ME Baseball, Tennis Teams Advance in MIAA Tourney


 For the Manchester Essex high school sports teams, it was an ideal way to begin the post-season.

Three ME teams played on June 6, and all three won, enabling them to advance to the next round of the Div. 4 Tournament.

Boys Tennis Gets Things Rolling Against Southbridge

It all started at 3:30 p.m. on Monday at Endicott College, with the third-seeded ME boys tennis team absolutely dominating 30-seed Southbridge by a score of 5-0. The win allowed the Hornets to move on to the Round of 16 to face 14-seed Bromfield on June 8 (4 p.m.).

Number one singles player John Pope continued his stellar spring, winning 6-0, 6-0, while freshman Jack Cummins also won by a score of 6-0, 6-0. Roemer deWidt won at third singles, 6-0, 6-0, while the first doubles team of Owen Bappe and Remson Demio (6-2, 6-4) and the second doubles pairing of Nick Macfarland and Charlie Virden (6-1, 6-0) only had slightly more trouble dispatching the opposition.

“I think we got really good focus from the boys,” explains ME boys tennis coach Rob Bilsbury. “They were on it from the warmup. It was a nice facility; a beautiful day and the boys came ready to play.”

This is the first year that strength of schedule and power rankings have been introduced as part of a formula to determine tournament qualification and seeding. According to Bilsbury, this was a success.

“That was when you got a team like Bedford or one of the really good teams early on, and you could be playing your toughest opponent in the very first round,” says the boys tennis coach of the previous formula. “There is a disparity in every league that teams play in. We could go 16-0 in the CAL and play a team like Bedford in the first round, which had something like an 8-7 record but were playing against huge schools and amazing schools each year. It’s like a North Finals matchup in the first round.”

Baseball Team Defeats Monomoy to Move On

The boys’ tennis team was already rolling against Southbridge when the first pitch was thrown about a half an hour later at Memorial Field on Monday night. At the end of this one, the result was the same: A Manchester Essex sports team picked up an early victory in the tournament and advanced to the next round.

The ME baseball team (a five-seed) defeated 28-seed Monomoy on June 6, earning the Hornets a spot in the Round of 16 in the tourney against Monument Mountain Regional High School (a 12-seed).

The Hornets looked a little rusty early on in the game, with the Sharks jumping out to a 4-0 lead. ME was able to answer with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first, and then settled down the rest of the way to pull out the win.

“We started off sloppy going down 4-0, but matched them, scoring four in the bottom of the first,” explains ME baseball coach BJ Weed. “Our defense settled down and Vaughn O’Leary struck out nine.”

Zak Parot had two hits and four RBIs to help the Hornets get back into this one, Ryan Andrews and Henry Otterbein drove in a pair of runs each and AJ Pallazola helped his team by going 2-for-3 and getting on base with good at-bats.

“[The] key moment was us answering back in the bottom of the first,” says Weed. “Vaughn settled down on the mound to throw 6 strong innings.”

Girls Tennis Topples Stoneham To Advance

Just as the boys’ tennis team was wrapping up, the girls tennis team took to the court at Endicott College to help the MERHS sports teams go a perfect 3-for-3 on Monday night. The 6th-seed Hornets defeated 27th-seed Stoneham by a 3-2 score, allowing the girls tennis team to advance to face 11th-seed Bourne on June 8 (4 p.m.).

The two doubles teams were crucial to the Hornet victory on Monday, with the first doubles pairing of senior captains Parker Brooks and Gracie Susko winning 6-0, 6-1, and the second doubles pairing of Grayson and Sienna Crocker also emerging victorious (6-1, 6-2). Vanessa Gregory provided the winning point at third singles, winning 7-5, 6-4.

Thankfully, those underclassmen playing in the spotlight have proven to be up to the challenge. Vanessa Gregory has been very impressive at no. 3 singles, and Sophie Zalosh and Emory Weber-Provost have played some of the top tennis players in the state at first and second singles, respectively. Senior captains Parker Brooks and Gracie Susko have done a great job keeping the team competitive from the number one doubles spot.

While they didn’t pick up points, Emory Weber-Provost played well in losing a tight, third-set tie-breaker at first singles, while Emily Parkins did a nice job filling in at no. 2 singles with the usual starter out due to COVID.

“We were a little rusty in the beginning, but picked it up,” explains ME girls tennis coach Ed Conway. “We’ve got a nice, young squad behind our seniors who are more than willing and able to fill in, and they did that admirably. We did really well tonight, and I see better things down the road for this team. Hopefully, we can get healthy.”

Lacrosse Teams Begin Tourney Run This Week

The ME girls’ lacrosse team should play later this week in the Round of 32, earning the top seed in Div. 4 and a bye in the preliminary round. The Hornets will play the winner of 32-seed Stoneham and 33-seed Blackstone Valley, a game scheduled for June 7.

The Manchester Essex boys’ lacrosse team also earned a bye in the preliminary round thanks to being seeded 19th in Div. 4, but know who they will face in the Round of 32 already: The Hornets are scheduled to travel to Abington High School on June 8 at 6 p.m. to face 14th-seed Abington.

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