With Tourney in Sight, ME Baseball Team Plans to Fight to the Finish


Between injuries, inexperience and playing against some of the toughest competition in Div. 4, the Manchester Essex baseball team has had to overcome quite a bit this season.

Thankfully, the Hornets have shown signs that they can overcome those hurdles and possibly earn a spot in the MIAA tournament.  Manchester Essex lost four games in a row to close out April, but picked up the pace since the start of May to cobble together a .500 record thanks to a potent offense.

“We struggled early and have been playing better the last two weeks,” says Hornets baseball coach BJ Weed.  “We had some injuries where we are trying to plug holes.”

Wins against Pentucket, Rockport and Amesbury have helped put the team at an encouraging 5-5 in the Cape Ann League (the Hornets are 5-9 overall), and kept them in contention for a tournament berth.  The team is ranked in the top 32 of the MIAA Div. 4 Power Rankings -- which utilizes a formula that involves strength of schedule in addition to overall team record -- with six games left on the schedule this spring.

“The playoffs are a possibility,” explains Weed.  “We are ranked in the top 32 at 27.  We just need to win the games we are supposed [to].”

The Hornets have already avenged an early-season loss to Amesbury.  This week, they get a second crack at Hamilton-Wenham (May 16) before traveling to Lynnfield (May 18) and Ipswich (May 20).

“We had a tough stretch playing Triton, Newburyport and Amesbury,” says Weed.  “We lost to Triton and Newburyport and beat Amesbury.  We play Hamilton-Wenham, Lynnfield and Ipswich this week.  All three teams are tough and hopefully we can have a good week.”

To accomplish that, the Hornets need to continue getting key contributions from some of the team’s top players.

“Troy Flood is playing a great defense at shortstop and hitting .500 with two home runs,” says Weed.  “Mike Deoreo is hitting well and leading the team in RBIs with 17.  Jacoby Catazaro has been a great bat for us as a designated hitter.  Henry Otterbein is playing a great centerfield.  Matteo Sarmanian has been throwing the ball well.”

The Hornets also need to keep making waves at the plate while working on defense and pitching.  For example, ME scored 15 runs against Amesbury to win 15-4 on May 13, but just two days earlier allowed 24 runs to Newburyport in a loss.

“We have struggled on the mound and making plays on defense when we need to,” says Weed.  “Our strength is our offense,” adding, “We need to play better defense because pitchers are starting to throw strikes and are getting better.”

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