Merrimack Baseball: April 11 – April 21

Since coming back from Easter break we have played many games and like all season, there has been many ups and downs along the way. We have played UMass Lowell, Saint Michael’s, Assumption, American International College, and Saint Anselm since my last post.

On April 11th, we traveled to UMass Lowell to play the River Hawks under the lights after coming off a big victory over them the last time we played them. They threw the same starting pitcher that we beat back on April 3rd so we knew he was going to give everything he had to get back at us. This was a very big game because if we beat them we would win the series and own the tie breaker heading into the playoffs if it came down to it, so we were all fired up and ready to go. Playing at LaLacheur Park (the Lowell Spinners home field) also helps out because it is the nicest field in the league. Travis Terrill started for us, but did not have his best stuff which allowed them to jump ahead 5-0 after 3 innings. We were able to battle back and make it 5-2 after Casey Cotter and Joe Mantoni were able to drive in a pair of runs, but Lowell pulled away and ended up winning the game, 7-2. This was only game 2 of the 3 game series so we still had another chance to win the series against a very good UMass Lowell team the next week.

Before we played UMass Lowell again we headed up to Vermont for the weekend to take on Saint Michael’s College. The weather was perfect the whole weekend and we were going to give everything we had to try and grab 3 games from them. Mike Laracy was on the hill for game 1 of the double header on Saturday, April 14th. Mike, just like Travis, did not have his usual stuff that day. He tossed 3 innings while surrendering 3 runs. We were unable to bounce back from the 3-0 deficit and wound up dropping game 1 of the 3 game series 5-1. We knew we had to take the next 2 games and win the series if we were going to keep fighting to make the playoffs.

We started off slow again this next game being down 1-0 heading into the top of the 7th inning after Joe Carnevale continued is great season allowing 1 run over 6 innings. Our offense came together after calling it up for a team meeting and the whole team came alive. We put up 4 runs in the 7th inning and another 4 in the 8th to take a 8-2 lead and we were able to hold onto the lead and secure the victory to earn Joe Carnevale his 3rd win of the season.

Game 3 took place on Sunday and we had Joe Mantoni on the hill. We knew Joe was going to give us everything he had and he did that on this very warm humid day. Joe only went 4 innings before being pulled because being so tired and dehydrated from the heat and working so hard. He only gave up a pair of runs in those 4 innings while striking out four batters. Brett Julian came in and threw 3 innings without surrendering an earned run. Our offense continued to stay hot following the last couple innings of game 2 and were able to put up another 8 runs for us. Alan Pastyrnak and Tim Curran led the way for the offense. Alan racked up four hits, while Tim collected four RBI on the day. We were able to win the game 8-5 and take the series winning 2 out of 3 games.

Our next game took place on April 17th and it was the 3rd and final game of the series against UMass Lowell. This turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the season, and one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of. Travis Terrill was on the mound again and this time he was out for revenge after taking the loss against them the week before. We took the early leading being up 5-1 heading into the top of the 5th inning, and then the game became a little more interesting. Lowell put up 4 runs in the inning to tie up the game, but we bounced right back and put another 2 runs on the board.

After being up 7-5 Lowell was able to grab a run in the 6th and 7th inning to tie it up once again. Once again we were able to grab another run and take the lead heading into the 9th. Lowell then hit a home run to tie the game up in the 9th and we ended up going to extra innings. Casey Cotter got a one out hit in the bottom of the 10th inning before Joe Mantoni stepped to the plate. Joe worked the count to 3-0 and coach gave him the green light to swing away if he got the pitch he wanted. Joe got the pitch he wanted and hit a towering home run over the left center field fence for a walk off two run home run and win the series for us. This was one of the most exciting moments in my baseball career and I was just watching it. This is a game I will remember the rest of my life.

After the exciting victory over UMass Lowell we then had two non-conference games against Assumption and American International College. We unfortunately dropped both games, but luckily it doesn’t go against us making the playoffs.

We then were set to play Saint Anselm in a 3 game series at home April 21st and 22nd but were only able to play 2 of the 3 due to rain on Sunday. This was a very big series and we came out fired up because it was Spring Weekend at Merrimack College. We had Joe Carnevale on the hill for game 1 and Mike Laracy on the hill for game 2. Joe went out and pitched a great game hurling 5 innings and surrendering 4 runs and left with a lead.

Joe Mantoni stayed hot and blasted 2 home runs in game 1 and helped give us a chance to win the 1st game of the double header. We were up 6-5 going into the top of the 9th inning and we had our most reliable pitcher on the year on the hill, Alek Morency. Unfortunately Alek made one bad pitch and it was hit for a home run to tie the game. The game went 11 innings before Saint Anselm was able to put up 2 runs and we couldn’t bounce back, we dropped game one 8-6. Game 2 was close and very exciting until the end of the game. Mike Laracy tossed 6 innings and only surrendered 3 runs giving us a chance to win the game, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the job done and we down 4-3 heading into the top of the 9th inning before giving up 6 runs and dropping the game 10-3.

We travel to Bentley on April 25th, before senior day against Assumption April 26th, and playing our make-up game against Saint Anselm at home on Friday. We will then travel to New Hampshire for the weekend to take on Franklin Pierce before heading into the final week of the regular season.

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Merrimack Baseball: March 15 – April 7

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since my last post and I have a lot to fill you in on. Since my last post we have traveled to Florida and New York, and have also started conference games. It has been a very exciting season filled with many ups and also some downs that we have worked together as a team to get through.

We traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday, March 14th to play games against Saint Michael’s, Mercy, Molloy, and Southern Connecticut. We ended up beating Saint Michael’s 10-0 and almost everyone on the team besides a couple pitchers were able to get into the game. The next day we had a doubleheader against Mercy and swept them, winning the first game 5-2 and the second game 4-2. On Saturday March 17th we had a rematch against Molloy at Lynn University, and we were able to come out with the win 4-0. We were getting some great pitching and timely hitting that was allowing us to keep up the winning streak and allow the streak to reach 8 games.

The streak unfortunately came to an end on Sunday, March 18th, when we faced Southern Connecticut State University for the third and fourth times this season. At the time, they were cranked in the top 25 in the country. They had great pitching in the first game, as we could never get on the scoreboard and ended up losing 3-0. Game 2 took place Monday afternoon before we were set to head back to Merrimack. This was the most exciting game of the trip, as we came back from down four runs twice in the game, but unfortunately Southern Connecticut came out on top winning in 11 innings, 8-6.

But it was a very successful and enjoyable trip. We ended up going 4-2, everybody on the team got a chance to play, and I feel we grew as a team because of the trip. Many of the players were able to go out with family and friends during the night because of the way the schedule was set up, which made the trip even better. It gave us a chance to be with family and friends almost like being on a vacation but at the same time we knew we were in Florida to play baseball and I think everyone did a good job focusing on the games.

Since coming back from Florida we have played many division and conference games and also traveled to New York for a weekend series against Le Moyne and Saint Rose. We lost both games to a very good Le Moyne team on Saturday, March 24th, but were able to come out on top of both games against Saint Rose on Sunday, winning 9-7 and 2-0.

We have played division games versus Bentley, Southern New Hampshire and UMass Lowell so far and conference games versus Assumption, American International College and New Haven. As of today, April 10th, we have a division record of 1-4, a conference record of 8-10, and an overall record of 14-16. We have played some very good teams and our record doesn’t show for how good I believe we are playing right now. We have a game April 11th at 7:00 p.m. at UMass Lowell and then travel to Vermont on Friday for a three-game series at Saint Michael’s.

Some individuals that have collected awards throughout the season so far are Casey Cotter, who got Northeast-10 Player of the Week on March 19th, and Joe Carnevale, a freshman who received Northeast-10 Pitcher/Rookie of the Week on March 12th and also received Rookie of the Week February 21st.

I will check back in next week and go more in depth on the games that take place throughout the week!

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Delaware and New York

On March 2nd we left campus around 2pm to head down to Wilmington, Del. for a three-game series. We were set to play one game on Saturday and two games on Sunday. Saturday was a tough game as we lost 10-2 and didn’t look like the team we are from the start of the game. We struggled all game and did our best to put it behind us heading into the doubleheader on Sunday before we headed back to Merrimack.

Travis Terrill started game 1 of the double header and pitched a great game, he threw 8 innings and allowed one unearned run. We couldn’t get much done offensively and ended up losing 1-0. Game 2 of the double header freshman Joe Carnevale took the mound. He threw five innings, allowing three runs, while striking out four batters. Again, Wilmington’s pitchers threw a great game as we lost the second game of the double header 3-1. It was a tough weekend, but we came out with many positives and many things we can work on to help us reach our team goals.

We headed down to Chester, N.Y. on March 9th for four games in two days. In game 1 of the four games we took on a Northeast-10 rival, Saint Anselm College, in a non-league game. Joe Mantoni took the hill after coming off a tough outing against Wilmington University the week before. Joe threw six innings, striking out eleven batters and only surrendering one run. Alek Morency then came in for the seventh and eighth innings and struck out six batters, and Brett Julian came in to close the door. We were down 1-0 heading into the top of the 7th when freshman catcher Dionys Quezada came to the plate with one man on. Dionys hit a home run over the right center field fence that looked like it was no more than 20 feet off the ground the whole time; it was the fastest I have seen a ball get out of the park in a long time. After putting up two runs in the 7th, we added two more in the 8th and finished the game off with an insurance run in the 9th to help us claim a 5-1 victory.

We took on Dominican College in Game 2 of the double header. Joe Carnevale started the game and tossed six innings, fanning 12 batters, allowing zero runs, while picking up his first collegiate victory. We were winning 1-0 heading into the top of the 8th before adding 7 runs and winning the game 8-0. The game was close the whole game and the final score doesn’t represent how intense and close the game actually was. We collected a total of 31 strikeouts in the double header and only allowed one run on the day. The pitchers threw great in both games, and the hitters collected timely hits which is something we have been focusing on. It was great to take both games and it was also a great team victory.

Sunday we took on Saint Anselm again in game 1. The highlight of the game took place sixth inning with two out and two men on when Alan Pastyrnak came to the plate and blasted a three run home run. This was Alan’s first career home run and it couldn’t have come at a better time as it gave us a 5-1 lead. Terrill went six innings on the mound, allowing one earned run, and picked up his first win of the season. Brian Wolfendale tossed the last three innings and picked up his first save of the season. It was great to pick up two victories over Saint A’s after struggling against them last season.

Just like Saturday, we headed into game 2 of the double header coming off a 5-1 victory over Saint A’s and about to face Dominican once again. Mike Laracy took the hill for this game not having his best stuff, but he battled and competed all five of the innings he was in the game and only allowed three hits without giving up any runs. We were up 2-0 when Mike left the game but Dominican unfortunately tied up the game in top of the 8th which didn’t allow Mike to earn the victory. Chris Pinette came into the game in the 8th inning after Dominican tied up the game with 2 outs and runners on. Chris was able to get the final out of the inning, which eventually allowed him to steal the win. Tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th and our bench going crazy, Mark O’Flynn came to the plate with runners in scoring position. Mark was able to hit a ground ball up the middle that allowed Tim Curran to score and take a 3-2 lead. Casey Cotter eventually scored on an error to give us the 4-2 lead and Brett Julian came in to close out the game in the top of the 9th and earned his second save of the season.

It turned out being a great weekend. We swept the four game series for the first time in Coach Martin’s time here at Merrimack and have gained a lot of momentum.

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Start of the Season

It’s been a while since my last blog and I have a lot of information to cover that has happened between my last post and today. We all came back to school on January 18th – almost a week before the rest of campus returned to school – to get started on reaching the goals we set as a team for this upcoming season.

We have been working as hard as we can each and every practice. We practiced in the Volpe Gym at Merrimack the first couple practices before going to an indoor baseball facility called Play Ball in Salem, N.H. At these practices pitchers go over their normal routine – abs, chords, medicine balls, playing catch, working on pickoffs, conditioning, and throwing live to the hitters in the batting cage. Position players will throw, work on their hitting mechanics, take different types of batting practice, and facing the pitchers throwing live. We also work on team things that help prepare us for games.

One thing that is a lot different this year from my last three years at Merrimack is that because of the gorgeous weather we have also been able to practice outside at the turf baseball field at Haverhill Stadium in Haverhill, Mass. This gives us an edge over most teams in the Northeast region because we are able to take fly balls, ground balls, and have scrimmages outside on a field, while most other teams are stuck inside.

Last weekend, we took a 19 hour bus ride down to Morehead City, North Carolina, where we were scheduled to play a doubleheader versus Molloy College on Saturday, and one game versus both Southern Connecticut State University and Felician College on Sunday. Unfortunately we were only able to play the double header versus Molloy College on Saturday because the other two games were rained out on Sunday.

Joe Mantoni, a junior captain, took the hill for game 1 versus Molloy. Joe threw five innings, striking out three batters while earning the victory. We took the first game of the double header 7-4. Mark O’Flynn was the star of game 1 of the season reaching base on all five plate appearances, collecting 2 hits and 2 runs, and having the highlight of the day when he stole home. Chris Pinette came in to throw 3 innings and only allowing 1 run, and Brett Julian, a junior captain, closed out the game to earn the save. This was a great way to start our season, we came out with the most energy I have ever seen us have in my four years here. Our bench was going absolutely crazy for all 9 innings and the players in the game fed off of our energy to help us earn the 7-4 victory.

In game 2 we knew we had to keep up the intensity because they were going to come out wanting this game even more than they did the first game and we had freshman pitcher Joe Carnevale on the hill making his first collegiate start. Joe pitched a great game going six innings and racking up six strikeouts, which led to him earning Northeast-10 freshman of the week. We were down 2-0 going into the bottom half of the 6th inning when Casey Cotter came to the plate with two men on. Casey drove a towering three run home run over the right field fence, and just like that we had the lead and the momentum back. We kept this going as Brian Wolfendale threw a pair of scoreless innings bringing us into the 9th inning with a run one lead. After playing 8 innings in right field in the first game and closing out the game, and playing the first 8 innings in right field again the second game Brett Julian came in looking for his second save of the day. Unfortunately things didn’t go our way with two outs in the 9th when Molloy hit a two run double to take the lead. We were unable to put up any runs in the bottom half of the 9th and took a heart breaking loss.

We took a lot out of the games from Saturday because Molloy was picked as preseason favorites to win their conference, and we were able to outplay them for almost all 18 innings. Like I said before, Sunday’s games were rained out and we took a 14 hour bus ride back to Merrimack with a 1-1 overall record.

On Wednesday, February 22nd, we played Southern Connecticut in a double header at Haverhill Stadium. They were picked favorites in their side of the Northeast-10 division and were ranked #11 in the country for Division 2. Again, we came out with a ton of energy and it resulted in everyone playing as hard as they can. Travis Terrill pitched a great game in game 1 of the double header. He threw six innings, striking out six batters and only allowing one earned run. We unfortunately had another heartbreaking loss, going down 2-1. In game 2 of the double header Mike Laracy took the hill. This was Mike’s first game back since being injured last season and he looked great. He threw five innings, struck out four batters and only allowed one run. Just like game one of this game and game 2 versus Molloy we suffered another tough loss to a great team. Southern Connecticut took a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning after we tied the game up 1-1 and we were unable to score anymore runs.

It was tough losing these three games, especially because we feel like we outplayed both teams and were just unable to capitalize on opportunities, but we are taking a lot of positives out of the losses. We only lost by a combined 4 runs in all three losses to two of the top teams in the northeast region. We will keep working as hard as we can as a team and put these losses behind us as we look forward to our upcoming games versus Wilmington University. We head down to Wilmington, Delaware on March 2nd, and will play them in a double header on Saturday and one game Sunday before we head back to Merrimack.

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Fall Wrap-Up

Fall Ball wrapped up last Friday, October 21st, and it turned out to be a great fall season.  As I mentioned in my last post, we played intrasquads almost every fall practice, and to end the fall we had an Intrasquad World Series (IWS).  Our team was divided up into two separate teams throughout the whole fall and the last three days of practice we held the IWS.

Going into the IWS, the grey team was a big favorite as they dominated the blue team all fall, but blue team did not lose confidence and came out strong in Game 1.  The blue team dominated the first game of the IWS and had the grey team one game away from elimination.  Game 2 of the IWS was the best day of the whole fall.  Blue team was up one run going into the top of the last inning, but grey team did not back down.  Grey came back to take the lead with 2 two-out RBI.  This didn’t get the blue team’s spirits down though because they knew they still had one more at-bat to get in at least one run but hopefully two.

Blue had a man on third with one out in the last inning when Tommy Lanzoni hit a pop fly to right field that looked deep enough to score the game tying run, but Beau Batchelor made a great throw home to gun down the runner at the plate on a controversial call to end the game.  In Game 3, grey came out on fire and never looked back as they went on to beat the blue team and take home the first ever IWS.  This wrapped up a very competitive and fun fall ball season.

The baseball team also held a clinic on October 10th, which turned out to be a very successful day as the clinic raised funds for the program.

On October 21st we hosted our first annual Friends of Merrimack Baseball Golf Tournament at Black Swan Country Club located in Georgetown, Mass. which is about fifteen minutes from the Merrimackcampus.  I had the opportunity to play in the tournament with my parents and my friend from back home and we had a great time.  The course was one of the nicest courses I have played at, the people that worked there were very nice, and the awards ceremony in the clubhouse after was fantastic.

We did not have as big a crowd as we had hoped for because the tournament was pushed back a week due to rain on the originally scheduled date, but we still had a very good turnout and it was great to see some of the guys I use to play with and some parents.  The tournament raised enough money to almost pay off one of our trips in the spring, and the team is very grateful for everyone that came out to play and anyone else that made donations.  This tournament will be something I look forward to every year so I can see some of my old teammates and coaches.

Finally, this past week we had our individual meetings with our coaches to wrap up the fall and discuss how we did individually and as a team, what we would keep or change, our goals for the upcoming season, and also a vote on captains.  The meetings went great and we were able to come up with a set of team goals and how we will achieve them, and incoming and returning players now know what to expect this upcoming season.  As far as captains go, Tim Curran – a senior from South Weymouth – will serve as captain for his second straight season. Also named captains were Billy Humphrey, a senior from South Easton; Brett Julian, a junior from Weymouth; and Joe Mantoni, a junior from Hopedale. They will all be first-time captains.

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Fall Ball 2011

We started up our Fall Ball schedule September 16th and won’t finish until late October. This is our first Fall Ball season under Coach Martin, so nobody really knew what to expect going into the first practice.  We were all nervous on what we were going to do throughout the fall, even though we had somewhat of an idea after coming off our first spring with him.  It turns out that he had a very creative way of doing everything and keeping the fall interesting and very competitive.

Throughout the fall we have practices, intrasquads, and scrimmages against other Northeast-10 opponents.  This fall we were scheduled to play St. A’s, Southern Connecticut and UMass Lowell, but because of the rain we have only played Umass Lowell.  We scrimmaged Umass Lowell in a double header this past Sunday, October 2, and it turned out to be a great day.  We got all of our position players to play 9 innings each and also got a lot of our pitchers some work.

This was just one of the many exciting days we have had so far this fall.  Coach Martin split us up into two different teams at the beginning of the fall season and we have been doing intrasquads at almost every practice since the third practice of the fall.  During these intrasquads we don’t only just keep track of runs, we have a point system for certain type’s of plays in order to keep the energy going and make the games even more competitive.  The losing team will have some sort of punishment after the game so everyone is doing whatever they can to win the games just like we would during the regular season.  For example, lack of hustle is minus 1 point, or having a great hustle play is plus 1 point.  Each point comes into effect at the end of the game so every point counts and players will do anything they can to get that extra point and try to help lead their team to victory.

On Monday, October 10th, the baseball program will be holding a baseball clinic for high school student-athletes that are interested in playing college baseball. Head Coach Jim Martin, pitching coach Nick Barese and some of the players will be instructors at the clinic.  The baseball program will also be holding its first annual Friends of Merrimack Baseball Golf Tournament at Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown, Mass. on October 14th.

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My Student-Athlete Experiences

Hello everyone,

My name is Billy Humphrey and I am a senior on the Merrimack College baseball team. Over my three, going on four, we have had our ups and downs. Over my first three years we had one player, Ryan O’Rourke, get drafted and also had another, Jeff Bercume, sign a minor league contract. Before coming to college I thought that a lot more people would go on to play professional baseball from whichever school I went to, but I have learned over the last three years that it is very rare to see someone continue their baseball career after college.

I think being a student-athlete helps you understand how important the student part of student-athlete is. It is very difficult to juggle baseball and classes but when you want to excel in both areas you find a way to make everything work and be successful at both. Our baseball team has study hall for all incoming freshman and anyone else on the team below a 3.0 GPA. My first three years I had to attend study hall because my GPA was just below the 3.0 mark, but having that mark there helped me want to get over that 3.0 and be able to not have to go to study hall. I finally got my career GPA over 3.0 my second semester junior year so I don’t have to attend it anymore. This was a huge accomplishment for me because coming out of high school I got rejected from Merrimack College because my grades weren’t good enough. This led me having to attend Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School after college because I wanted to help my study skills and give myself another year to mature and help me become a better baseball player. Reaching my goal of getting over a 3.0 was such a big accomplishment for me and made me feel great that all my hardwork and decision of going to prep school paid off.

That is some of the student things that have happened and helped me become the student-athlete I am today. Now I would like to talk a little bit about the athlete part. Being a Division II college athlete is very difficult and takes up a lot of time. Baseball is obviously a spring sport, but you don’t only play baseball in the spring. In college, you play fall ball which is almost like another season. We start fall ball this week and we won’t stop until the end of October. We are required to have two days off each week in the fall but that doesn’t mean we aren’t playing baseball those two days as well. If we don’t have a team practice one day we will still have a captain’s practice so we don’t get out of our routine. During fall ball we have normal practices, intra-squad scrimmages, and scrimmages against other teams in our league. Once fall ball is over we have lifts and individual practices or one team practice during the week. After we come back from winter break the only thing you will ever do is play baseball and go to class. You are playing baseball almost every day until the last game of the season in early May.

I hope you enjoyed the first of many posts. I will check back in some time later this week or early next week to fill you in on how classes and our first week of fall ball goes.

Thank you,

Billy Humphrey

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