Pelham~Windham Sports Pelham~Windham Sports
PHS Baseball Team Continues to Sputter, Oyster River ‘Punches Out’ Pythons
A Coe-Brown base runner jumps over a ground ball as Python shortstop Jake Vaiknoras (#10) attempts to make the play
by Marc Ayotte Since rattling off three consecutive wins to improve their record to 4-1, the Python boys’ baseball team has fallen upon hard times. After a home field walk- off win against Milford two weeks ago, Pelham has managed to slide into a four-game losing streak—in varied fashion. Just a few games ago, the Pythons mingled with the elite in the Division II baseball standings. Now, they merely reside in the land of mediocrity, nursing a 4-5 record. Most recently, on Monday, May 2, the Pythons were handed probably their most humbling defeat of the season. During the losing streak, they have suffered some frustrating and discouraging defeats; however, the loss to Oyster River (ORHS) at home on Monday epitomized the Pythons’ recent inability to produce at the plate and be effective on the mound— in the same game. The Bobcats strolled into Pelham with a ho-hum record of four wins and three losses with an offense that was struggling, averaging less than four runs per game. That was the good news. The bad news is that in their combined four wins, the ORHS defense had allowed a mere 12 opposing runners to cross the plate. Unfortunately for Pelham, that trend continued as Oyster River pitcher Robbie Greenleaf
fired a masterpiece at the Pythons. The Bobcat ace threw six scoreless innings, scattering three hits and demoralizing Python hitters by striking out 13 batters in securing an 8-0 victory on the road. In hindsight, the writing was on the wall for the Pythons in their first at bat as Greenleaf recorded the first three of his double-digit strikeout performance by fanning the side in order. Pelham starting pitcher David Bronson, who looked sharp by retiring the Bobcats in order in the first, ran into some difficulties in the top of the second.
Python right-fielder Pat McLean makes a nifty, sliding catch in a game against Oyster River
After striking out the leadoff batter, Bronson then gave up a single, a base on balls, and an RBI double to centerfielder Travis Hackett. The damaging hit came when Ryan Frazier launched a two-run triple to deep centerfield, giving ORHS a 3-0 lead. The visitors added another run on a fielder’s choice and held a four-run lead with the Pythons coming up. During the bottom of the second, Python assistant coach Dave Harne had a brief discussion with his starting pitcher about his mechanics. The on-the-fly adjustments paid dividends as Bronson returned to the mound to pitch superbly, firing four consecutive innings of shutout baseball and keeping the Pythons in the game. Though Pelham did not score in the second inning, they did threaten in the home half of the third. After the first two Pelham batters were drilled in the back by Oyster River’s Greenleaf, emotions escalated. There is a history between Greenleaf and some of the Pythons, dating back to an incident in last year’s season finale between the two teams. With a prime opportunity to establish some restitution, the Pythons proceeded to load the bases. However, Greenleaf miraculously regained his control issue and battled back to strike out the side, stranding three Python base runners. In the top of the seventh with one on and one out, and the Pythons certainly still within striking distance, RBI doubles by Oyster River’s Ryan Frazier and Jack Garnhart chased Bronson from the mound. Reliever Billy Cann had his first pitch to the plate smacked to left centerfield for yet another double, driving in two more runs (charged to Bronson) and upping the Bobcat lead to the eventual eight-run margin of victory. In the bottom of the seventh, due to an earlier substitution mistake on the part of ORHS, Travis Hackett closed out the game for the visitors, striking out two and upping the total Python strikeout victims to 15 on the day. After the game, Python catcher Evan Sage shared his thoughts about the current losing streak: “I’m trying to get everyone to stay positive. It’s tough because we have a young team. Everybody is trying to stay upbeat.” Sage added that the situation is made more difficult to deal with knowing that two of their starting pitchers are injured, one
of them being Nick Roussel, who is out for the remainder of the season with a broken hand. In recognizing his fellow teammate’s leadership, Sage paid homage to Python left-fielder Jesse Vaiknoras, who is trying to keep the team spirit high. “Jesse is the main contender at keeping everybody going,” Sage said. In the three games prior to the loss against Oyster River, untimely errors and a sudden case of ‘quiet bats’ caused the struggling Pythons to fall in road games at ConVal and Bedford before returning home to where their pitching was hammered by opposing Coe-Brown on Friday, April 29. Despite the unfavorable recent results, the never-quit approach and effort by the Pelham players is clearly still intact. In all fairness to the Pythons’ efforts, their loss to Bedford was against the undefeated and Division II-leading Bulldogs. And it’s not like Bedford dominated the game. In fact, the visiting Pythons held a 3-2 lead as the Bulldogs came up for their last at bat in the bottom of the seventh. Just one out away from victory and a Bedford runner on first, what ensued was nightmarish. A single, a base on balls, and then the gut-wrenching, one-strike double to the gap in left center delivered the devastating blow, resulting in the 4-3 loss. In defeat, Coach Stone was very pleased with his team’s overall performance, especially the pitching. It was the ‘mime-like’ performance by the Pelham bats (only three hits on the day) that was the disappointing element.
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A little bit of home cooking was all that was apparently needed to revitalize the Python aluminum, as they ‘pinged’ out 11 hits in their next game against Coe-Brown. But in typical Forrest Gump fashion—you never know what you’re gonna get (in any given game)—Coach Stone’s Pythons encountered a different obstacle in trying to get back into the win column. Against the Bears from Northwood, the Pythons’ impediment to victory originated on the mound. The visitors out-slugged the Pythons by putting up 13 hits of their own on the way to defeating Pelham by a score of 14-8. Coe-Brown was the poster child for offensive consistency as they were able to post runs in every inning, as the three Python Ms on the mound (McLean, Moran, and McArthur) were unable to record any goose eggs in the losing effort.
At the plate, the Pythons were led by Evan Sage, Billy Cann, David Bronson, and Alex Newton with two hits each. Jesse Vaiknoras and Bronson led the way in the RBI department, driving in two apiece. The Pythons are at home on Friday, May
6, when they host the Cavaliers of Hollis- Brookline. First pitch is at 4:15 p.m.
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Freshman Jake Vaiknoras ‘squeegees’ one to right field (ball in tree). Jake had one of the Pythons’ three hits on the day
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