Sports: Bartels’ Tour de Force Falls Short As Reading Takes League Title, 1-0

Photo: Cole Bartels on the mound. 

Paraphrasing Tolstoy, all wins are alike; each defeat is lost in its own way.

For Belmont High School’s senior ace Cole Bartels, Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Reading Memorial High – securing the Middlesex Liberty Division championship to the Rockets – will go down as a tour-de-force performance spoiled by the flukes of the game that can make baseball such a cruel mistress to play.

“Déjà vu all over again,” said Marauder Head Coach Jim Brown, recalling a similar one-run heartbreaker to Reading for the league championship in 2007. 

“Bartels pitched great. He did his job. We just could not get the timely hit,” said Brown. “We got hits; we got men on base. Someone just has to step up and get the hit at the right time.”

Pitching one of his best performance of the season, the Penn State-commit dominated the league leaders, striking out 11 while giving up only a pair of singles. After a few early inning “butterflies,” last year’s Middlesex League all-star got down to business, and in the process, threw one of the best two innings plus stretches from a starter in recent league memory. 

After a leadoff walk to the number nine hitter in the bottom of the third, Bartels struck out the first two batters in the lineup on 1-2 counts with catcher Cal Christofori’s rocket throw to cut down the runner attempting to swipe second by a mile.

The fourth inning was a master class with Bartels’ fastball hit the low outside corner schooled the heart of Rockets order as the 3, 4, and 5 hitters each took the third strike looking. To cap the effort. Bartels sat down the first batter in the fifth on a reverse K.

“When I came out in the third it was just rock and fire,” said Bartels

It wasn’t as if Belmont hitters were as they had six hits off Reading. It was if Belmont was too eager at the plate, attempting to belt junior Corey DiLoreto’s off-speed offerings, only to lift the ball into the outfield. 

The dark clouds crept over Belmont in the bottom of the sixth when Bartels had leadoff hitter Connor Mulligan down two strikes only to see three straight targeted pitches were deemed balls to the consternation of the Marauder coaching staff and bench, leading to a critical no out walk.

The games “big” hit traveled the least distance when right fielder Carl Gillies attempted to move Mulligan to second launched a bunt attempt in the air along the third base line. But rather then an easy  out, the ball looped over third base David Bailey who was charging the plate. 

“What do you do? Normally a pop-up bunt is a certain out,” said Brown.

Making matters more difficult, a passed ball by Bartels’ battery mate Christofori placed runners in scoring a position at second and third with one out. After a strike out, an intentional walk to load the bases for left fielder Tommy White to loft a fly ball deep enough into center field to score Mulligan. 

It was then up to DiLoreto to set down Belmont in order for the clinching victory. 

“I couldn’t ask much more from my team. They try as hard as they could with good effort. It just wasn’t our day,” said Bartels.

Bartels and Belmont will see the Rockets this weekend in the opening game of the annual Brendan Grant Tournament at 2 p.m., Friday, May 27. 

Belmont, whose pitching staff sports a 1.00 ERA, has the throwers to make a run in the playoffs but like last season, hitting and runs remain a bugaboo for the team.

“We have to put the right pieces of the puzzle together” which may require a lineup change,” said Brown. “It could be putting kids in different parts of the lineup and just getting a hit,” he said.

For Bartels, the playoffs can’t happen fast enough.

“I feel extremely good. We’re going to be a great team and accomplish special things this post season,” he said.

Sports: Belmont Baseball Punches Ticket Early For 14th Playoff Trip

Photo: Nate Espelsda

After a mid-season stumble in the past fortnight, Belmont High School Baseball appears to have straightened out some nagging problems on the mound and at the plate.

The result: two wins on Friday and Monday, securing the Marauders’ 14th trip to the Division 2 North Sectional playoffs.

On Friday, the 13th, Belmont Head Coach Jim Brown handed the ball to 10th grader Nate Espelsda who won his third game of the season (3-1) and second against the Tanners as the Marauders claimed a 7-3 victory.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

All-star junior catcher Cal Christofori hit a homer and a double to collect three RBIs in win as Espelsda’s fellow sophomore Max Meier came on in relief.

On Monday, Belmont’s ace senior pitcher Cole Bartels recorded his third shutout this spring as the Marauders’, behind 3-3 hitting from Connor Dacey, defeated host Lexington 6-0.

Belmont (11-3) will be busy this week with three games:

  • Wednesday, May 18 v. Winchester at the Grant (home), 3:45 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 19 @ Arlington Catholic, 3:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 21 @ Reading, 4 p.m.

Sports: Christofori Steps In To Put Belmont Baseball Back On Winning Ways

Photo: Another unearned run in the second for Belmont.

After losing its first two games of the season in the past week, and with upstart Watertown breathing down its neck midway through its game on a blustery Monday afternoon, May 9, Belmont High School Baseball Head Coach Jim Brown was wondering who could spark the Marauders to put them back on track 

And in true baseball tradition, it was a player who came off the bench to, literally, save the day.

After tweaking his ankle and sitting out the past two, starting catcher/reliever junior Cal Christofori took the ball from team ace Cole Bartels in the top of the fourth and proceeded to pitch four shutout innings to allow Belmont to take its only meeting of the season against its archrivals, 7-4.

“[Christofori] wasn’t supposed to play today but [Bartels] was struggling a bit and Cal said his ankle could go, and we got a huge effort out of him in relief,” said Brown.

Christofori gave up only four hits (one double) while striking out four, the final one a third out with Raiders on third and second in the 6th.

“I only sprained my ankle, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. They needed someone to throw, and I was there and just stepped in,” said the three-sport star. 

The victory puts Belmont (9-2) one game from securing a place in the sectional postseason.

“It’ll be good to clinch it against Arlington on Wednesday, but they have been playing much better than they were at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Bartels struggled a bit in the game as Watertown’s batters showed a great deal of patience at the plate, sending Bartels’ pitch count up into the 60 after three innings. Watertown appeared to have scored in the top of the first on a fielder’s choice but the home plate umpire called the runners on second and first out on a rarely called interference play for not sliding into second. 

Belmont took advantage in the bottom of the second of sloppy Watertown fielding to score five times on four errors and two singles by Bartels and shortstop Connor Dacey.

But the Raiders came right back, scoring four times in the third, the big blows by Watertown pitcher Kyle Foley who walloped a Bartels fastball far over the right field fence and Mike Giordano’s double that scored a pair. 

But after facing Bartels’ fastballs, Christofori threw a healthy portion of lazy curves that kept the Raiders off balance for the remaining four innings. 

Belmont got the insurance they were looking for in the fifth and sixth as Paul Ramsey (on a single) and  Bryan Goodwin (sacrifice) batted runners in. 

“We were going to make Watertown throw us out. Even in the last inning getting the final run, we were going to make sure they made the play in front of us,” said Brown.

Sports: Belmont Remain Undefeated With Shutout Win Over Woburn

Photo: Belmont sophomore southpaw Nate Espeline.

Break up the Marauders!

After its 3-0 shutout win Monday afternoon, April 25 over Woburn behind another stellar outing from sophomore southpaw Nate Espelin (a two-hit, six strikeout workmanlike afternoon), Belmont High Baseball has been playing some of the best baseball in the state.

Monday’s victory at the Grant was Belmont’s sixth win in as many games this season and atop the Middlesex Liberty Division, a place Marauders head coach Jim Brown is happy to be in.

“You always want to be 6 and 0,” he said.

A little over a third of the way through the season, Belmont has found a little pop in its bats which serves an impressive pitching staff – sophomores Espelin and Max Meier, both 2-0, have complimented last year’s Middlesex MVP Cole Bartels who has a 0.00 ERA in his two wins, striking out an average of 13 batters per game.

In its six games, the pitching staff has given up just two earn runs. And this is with senior starter Joe Shaughnessy on the shelf with a tweaked shoulder.

“Our young pitchers are throwing strikes and not getting into trouble. That’s a nice thing to have,” said Brown.

Espelin got all the runs he needed with two outs in the first with the big blow coming from centerfielder Bryan Goodwin who singled in two runs, part of a four hit barrage started by catcher Cal Christofori’s double and followed by singles from Belmont’s big boys, first base Dennis Crowley (with the rbi) and DH Ryan Noone.

It was left up to the lefty to hold the lead. Espelin never faced more than four batters in the innings he pitched, giving up just a pair of singles.

Next up for the Marauders is Lexington, a team they have had difficulty beating in the last three years, at home on Wednesday, April 27 at 3:45 p.m.  The Minutemen will be matched up against Bartels. 

Sports: Bartels Wins Battle of Aces as Belmont Takes Classic Over Wilmington

Photo: Cole Bartels before Wednesday game. 

The spectators came early to find good seats on a brisk sunny Wednesday morning game at Belmont’s Branden Grant Field, as nearly a dozen major league scouts turned up with radar guns and reporters for the daily newspapers were out in force.

The game was a rare meeting around these parts of a pair of top-ranked pitching prospects; Wilmington’s hard-throwing Jackson Gillis and Belmont’s talented Cole Bartels battling it out on the diamond.

And the two – each signed last season with Division 1 schools: Gillis to Vanderbilt and Penn State for Bartels – did not disappoint as they each threw a gem of a game in this classic pitcher’s duel, combining for a total of more than two dozen strikeouts while giving up a single hit each over five innings.

While the pro scouts had come out to see the 6’3″, 225 pound Gillis who is expected to be an early-round selection in the major league draft, the spring recess matinee was Bartels’ day in the spotlight as the senior dominated the Wildcats from start to finish as the Middlesex League all-star registering a 15 strikeout, 107 pitch masterpiece in the Marauders’ 2-0 victory. 

“All my pitches were working today,” said Bartels, who is coming off a 13 strikeout performance in the season’s opener against Concord-Carlisle.

While starting off most batters with fast balls, Bartels was getting them out with his breaking ball.

“My ‘out’ pitch was my slider,” said Bartels of the pitch that tails and drops away from right hand batters. 

A deeper look at the stats shows just how dominate Bartels was Wednesday: only seven times did Wilmington players hit the ball where a field player was called to make a play while three times – in the second, fourth and sixth innings – Bartels struck out the side. Of the 15 strikeouts, five times the batter took the pitch looking and only twice did he throw a strikeout on a full-count as his control and location was outstanding all game long.

While he was anticipating his third matchup with Gillis – he beat the Wildcat’s leading pitcher twice last season – “but it was no different than any other game for me,” said Bartels said. “I got a lot more confident as the game went on, I felt I got stronger,” Bartels said while praising his battery partner, catcher Cal Christofori, for being a rock behind the plate.

While Bartels will be remembered as having the top pitching day, Gillis was no slouch Wednesday. In his first pitch sequence against Trevor Kelly, Belmont’s leadoff hitter, Gillis threw three fastballs that hit 91 mph on the radar (the third pitch was fouled off) before throwing a curve ball recorded in the mid-80s for the strikeout.

Gillis struck out eight of the first nine outs in the game. But one of his victims, DH Ryan Noone, reached first on a third-strike passed ball in the second inning. Noone took second on a wild pitch and scored on second base Noah Riley’s shot up the middle to give Belmont an early 1-0 lead.

With a run in his pocket, Bartels nearly gave it back in the top of the fourth when second base Brian Cavanaugh hit an opposite-field double down the line. But Cavanaugh was stranded on second as Bartels struck out the side. 

Belmont put up some insurance on the board by scrapping together a run playing small ball against Gillis’ replacement, Chris Grecco, in the sixth. Bartels started the inning with a single and his batterymate Cal Christofori reached on an error.

After a Dennis Crowley sacrifice put the pair in scoring position, Noone attempted the squeeze with Bartel but the pitcher was caught at the plate. But in an attempt to gun down Noone at second, Christofori never stopped running and beat the return throw. 

Belmont now stands at 4-0 and is atop the Middlesex League’s Liberty Division.

“It’s our best start of a season for a while,” said Belmont’s long-time manager, Joe Brown. 

Sports: Bartels’ Arm, Bat Lead Marauders Over Concord Carlisle in Opener

Photo: Cole “Stone” Bartels

You knew that senior pitching sensation Cole Bartels can win a game with his right arm. Yesterday, Monday, April 11, the senior captain showed that he could win a few with his bat.

In Belmont High’s season opener (move over, Red Sox) at Grant Field, the Division 1 commit showed mid-season form as he mowed down the Concord-Carlisle Regional nine, striking out 13 over five innings – five of final six victims caught looking – while going 4-4 at the plate including a first-inning homer as Bartels led the Marauders to an 11-2 drubbing of the Patriots.

“I’ll take a Cole Bartels the way he was pitching today,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach James Brown, who is looking to improve from finishing the past three seasons with a 11-9 record. 

After punching out two of the first three batters to start the game, Bartels came to the plate with center fielder Bryan Goodwin (who reached base on an error) on second when he took a non-breaking ball over the fence in left to give Belmont a quick 2-0 lead. DH Ryan Noone brought home catcher Cal Christofori (single) and first bagger Dennis Crowley (double) on an sharp hit ball that was kicked around by the third baseman to give the Marauders a big four run lead. 

The early advantage – a rare occasion last year – gave Bartels the upperhand over the Patriots, which went to the Division 2 North semifinals last season, and he took advantage by mixing up his fast and breaking balls which left the batters guessing what was coming next. 

Bartels helped his own cause in the second as he drove home left fielder Trevor Kelly (who singled and took second on a wild pitch) on a single to center. 

While he did experience some wildness in the third – going to full counts on four of the five batters and allowing a walk and an unearned run – Bartels was in control for his five innings on the mound, registering the six final outs by strikeout while giving up two walks and a hit over that stretch.

Second base Noah Riley nearly joined Bartels with an opening day dinger as his fourth inning blast hit the bottom of the fence in dead center for a double. He came home (Riley reached third on an error) in a cloud of dust as he slid/flopped on home plate beating the throw on Kelly’s fielder’s choice.

Other Marauders doing things in the box was David Bailey who went 2-2 with a run after coming in in the fifth.

Belmont is on the road Tuesday, April 12 against the Big Red Machine of Melrose which went 13-7 last season. 

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Belmont High’s Pitching Ace Bartels Commits to Penn State

Photo: Cole Bartels. 

Belmont High School’s rising senior ace Cole Bartels has verbally committed to attend Division 1 Penn State University. 

The big, lanky right-hander, named the MVP of the Middlesex League and selected as a Boston Globe All-Scholastic this season, will be heading to State College, Penn. after his high school eligibility ends to pitch for the Nittany Lions in the Big 10 Conference.


On the mound, Bartels had a sub-1.00 ERA as the Marauders’ number one pitcher. He also batted at nearly a .450 clip.

Bartels, who is a high honor roll student and a member of the varsity basketball team, joins a program rebuilding in a highly-competitive league which includes teams such as Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Maryland. He will be playing in the 5,406 seat Medlar Field, considered one of the best college facilities in the country. 

The earliest Bartels can submitted a national letter of intent to attend Penn State is Nov. 11. 


Bartels One-Hitter Not Enough for Belmont as Season Ends at Danvers

Photo: Junior pitcher Cole Bartels.

A throwing miscue with two outs in the bottom of the fourth allowed a pair of unearned runs to cross the plate and ended the 2015 season for Belmont High School Baseball, as the Marauders came out on the short end of a 3-1 loss to host and number-one seed Danvers in the Division 2 North sectional tournament on Monday, June 8.

“Unearned runs will do you in all the time,” said long-time Belmont Head Coach Jim Brown.

The anticipated pitching duel between Belmont High School’s Cole Bartels and Danvers High’s Andrew Olszak – their respective league’s MVP – didn’t disappoint as the aces battled from the mound with Bartels throwing a hard-fought one-hitter only to be matched by Olszak’s two-hit gem.

“Coming back on three days rest (after winning the playoff opener in Wilmington this past Thursday) Cole pitched a great game. I think they had a single infield bleeder,” Brown said of his junior ace, who collected six strikeouts in his six-inning stint.

While Bartels battled deep into counts against Danvers, Olszak – who led his team in hits, runs, scoring and set a league record for stolen bases – threw a selection of pitches that Marauders hitters kept pounding into the ground.

“You have to tip your hat to their pitcher,” said Brown, noting that Olszak, 8-0 in the regular season with two saves, surrendered a total of four walks for the entire year.

“He can pitch inside, outside, low, high; he just hit his spots,” said Brown.

Danvers (19-3) took the lead in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly after the Falcon’s second batter went from first to third on a one-out single by Olszak.

Belmont (12-10) came back to even the score in the next half-inning as sophomore catcher Cal Christofori doubled a first pitch offering. He advanced to third on Nick Call’s sacrifice bunt and came home on Robbie Montanaro’s sac fly.

The Marauders defense stuffed out a threat in the bottom of the second when second baseman Trevor Kelly caught an attempted slap hit to double up the runner at first, followed by Christofori catching another Falcon player leaning the wrong way at first, resulting him to be tagged out at second.

But Bartels’ fielders failed him in the fourth as a routine grounder ate up Kelly to put the lead-off batter on first. A sacrifice, a walk and a stolen base placed men at second and third with one out. It appeared Belmont had the Falcon player who was heading home dead to rights on a missed suicide squeeze. But a slip by Call allowed the player to scamper back to the hot corner.

With two outs and a full count, Danvers’ DH drove the ball to shortstop Noah Riley, who rushed the throw just a bit. But that little extra push sent the ball over Montanaro’s reach.

Two scored, and Belmont faced attempting to score against a pitcher they had yet to solve. Kelly came close with a two-out double in the sixth, but he was stranded at second.

While Christofori kept the deficit to a pair coming in relief of Bartels – twice gunning down runners at second – Belmont could only get one runner on the bases with two outs in the ninth before yet another ground ball out from Olszak finished the season.

“I was proud of the way we battled. We always play [Danvers] tough,” said Brown.

“It’s always a close game. You’ve got to play a clean game, or they’ll capitalize on your mistakes,” said Brown.

Baseball: Belmont, Bartels Show Their Best Beating Wilmington in Playoff Opener

Photo: Junior Cole Bartels pitching Belmont to first-round victory over Wilmington.

Belmont High School Baseball played its best game of the season at the most opportune time as the Marauders handed hosts Wilmington High School Wildcats an 8-1 loss in a first-round of the Division 3 North Sectional playoffs played under sunny skies on Thursday afternoon, June 4. 

Belmont’s battery, junior right-hander Cole Bartels and sophomore catcher Cal Christofori, led the way as Bartels kept the Wildcats silent for all but the third inning, striking out 10 during his six inning stretch on the mound.

“It was great. I could find my spot and threw hard,” said Bartels after the game.

Christofori went three for four at the plate with an RBI triple in the third to bring in Belmont first run before scoring the Marauders second run on an error. Christofori finished the game in relief of Bartels.

“We did the little things; get your bat on the ball and good things will happen,” said Belmont’s long-time Head Coach Joe Brown, winning a first-round post season game for the third consecutive year. 

“We really were focused since the end of the season and we’ve had some great practices,” said Brown of the error- free effort by his defense behind Bartels.

Next up for Belmont (12-9) is a match up with number one seed Danvers High which sports a 18-3 record, after disposing of Tewksbury, 7-0, on Thursday.

The game will take place at Twi Field in Danvers at 4 p.m., Monday, June 8.

“I’ve coached against [Danvers’] Roger Day six or seven times and he’s gotten the better of me most times,” said Brown. “I expect a lot of small ball and quality baseball on Monday.” 

Belmont broke open the game in the fourth after surrounding a run in the bottom of the third, getting to the Wildcat’s ace, southpaw Jackson Gillis, with Christofori sending home Bartels, then coming home on the error. Third base Nick Call scored the third run on shortstop Nick Riley’s double.

The Marauders’ scraped together a run in the fourth as center fielder Ben Goodwin scampered home on Christofori’s second RBI. 

But the rally ended after Call ripped a Gillis fastball into the left center gap. Since Wilmington High could not use its new baseball field due to the construction of the new school building limited parking, the game was played at a middle school field which does not have an outfield fence. Had a barrier stopped the ball, it would have been unlikely Call would have tried to stretch a double into a triple. An outstanding throw from the outfield caught Call before Christofori crossed home. 

The Marauders provided the knockout punch with three in the fifth inning, highlighted by Goodwin’s two-out, two-run double, scoring juniors Trevor Kelly and Matt Kerans. 

It was then up to Bartels to secure the win, as he made quick work of the heart of the Wildcat lineup in the sixth.

“[Bartels] was phenomenal today. He had his control on,he was mowing guys down. He pitched out of a jam early and then was untouchable,” said Brown.  

Belmont Baseball Heading to Wilmington for First Round of Playoffs

Photo: Belmont High School Baseball.

In a meeting between eight and nine seeds, Belmont High School Baseball will be take on Middlesex League partner Wilmington High School in the first round of the MIAA Div. 2 North Sectional playoffs.

The teams, both 11-9, will meet on Thursday, June 4, at 4 p.m. at Wilmington High School. 

In their only encounter this year, the Marauders defeated the Wildcats, 9-3, back on April 29 in Wilmington. 

The winner of the game will take on the winner of number-one seed Danvers (17-3) and 16th-ranked Tewksbury (6-14) on Monday, June 8, at 4 p.m. at the home of the highest seed.