Authors Posts by Ralph Stewart

Ralph Stewart

Ralph Stewart
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Spencer Schofield (right) lowers the boom on Bourne running back Elijah Dias as Vineyard teammate Ben Clark assists on the play. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

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Vineyard running back Isaac Higgins battles with Bourne's Bryan Raftery. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

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Ben Clark signals "touchdown" after scoring on the Vineyard's opening drive. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

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Vineyard players lift their helmets after a job well done. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

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Jacob Cardoza outraces a pair of Bourne defenders to cap off a 51-yard touchdown catch and run. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

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Isaac Higgins breaks loose for a 54-yard run late in the fourth quarter. —Photo by Ralph Stewart


Martha’s Vineyard won on the gridiron for the first time this season, sinking the Bourne Canalmen 48-14 in a non-league matchup Friday night at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

The Vineyarders seized control of the game early, using a quick strike offense to roll up a 35-8  halftime lead. Jacob Cardoza ran for 129 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 78 yards, scoring three touchdowns; one by land and two by air. The Vineyarders and Canalmen are both 1-4.

“We’ve come close on a couple of occasions so it’s finally nice to get off the hump, get off the schneid,” Vineyard coach Donald Herman said after the win. “I thought the kids played hard. We came out early and were able to capitalize on a few things they allowed us to do and that’s always nice. We obviously have some things to work on but it’s always good to get that W, especially putting up 48 points.”

The Vineyarders took the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the field for the first score. Vineyard quarterback Mike Mussell keyed the drive with a 28-yard strike to James Sashin. Ben Clark followed up with a two-yard plunge for the TD. The Vineyarders faked the extra point, with Tucker McNeely passing to Cardoza for the two points and an 8-0 lead.

After thwarting Bourne’s opening possession, the Vineyarders took over at the Canalmen 47, using some razzle-dazzle to increase their lead. On first down, Jacob Cardoza took the snap, ran left, and tossed the ball to James Sashin, who stepped back and fired a perfect pass to Mike Mussell for the flea-flicker touchdown. Sashin booted the extra point to make it 15-0.

Bourne cut the lead to 15-8 following a 21-yard screen pass and a two-point conversion.

M.V. scored again on the first play of the second quarter as Mike Mussell passed to Jacob Cardoza for a 24-yard TD. James Sashin’s PAT put the Vineyard up 22-8.

The points kept on coming. On the next Vineyard drive, Mussell fired a quick pass over the middle to Cardoza, who slashed through the Bourne defense and sprinted 51 yards to the endzone with 6:57 left in the half.

Less than two minutes later, Andy DiMattia recovered a fumble at the Bourne 38. Ben Clark bulled ahead for 12 yards on first down and Curtis Farrell broke loose for a 26-yard TD on the next play.

The Vineyarders scored twice in the second half. Jacob Cardoza ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run down the right sideline midway through the third quarter and Lucas DeBettencourt chalked up his first high school touchdown with a 1-yard run late in the fourth. Isaac Higgins set up the final score with successive runs of 54 and nine yards.

All told, the Vineyarders piled up 421 yards of total offense: 273 rushing and 148 passing. Mike Mussell was 4 for 4 for 101 yards, with two touchdowns and a TD catch. Defensively, Lucas DeBettencourt had nine tackles, while David Macias and Austin Chandler each had eight tackles and a sack.

Following the game, Coach Herman hinted at a recipe for his team’s success. “The offense scored every quarter, so they get pizza for that,” he said. The reward is not limited to the offense. “If the defense gets a shutout, they get a pizza. If special teams score, they get a pizza. Anytime you talk food, it kind of motivates high school boys.”

Pizza and any other motivating factor will come in handy next Friday night October 17 in the homecoming game as the Vineyarders face perhaps their toughest test of the season: powerful Eastern Athletic Conference rival Somerset Berkley.

“It will be a battle, Coach Herman said. “[Somerset Berkley is] probably the best team on our schedule. In fact, I know it is.”

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The Vineyard boys jayvee harriers at the start of the race. From left: Justice Yennie, Charlie Whalen, Evan Kristal, Nicholas Termini, Otto Osmers, Mitchell Chaves, Ethan Lefebvre, and Aidan Aliberti. Ryan O' Malley is hidden behind Evan Kristal.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls and boys cross-country teams hosted more than a dozen schools from across Massachusetts Saturday afternoon in the eighth annual Vineyard Invitational meet.

Racing conditions along the 5K course through the State Forest were less than ideal for the 358 runners, who endured suffocating humidity and temperatures near 80 degrees. A stiff breeze and sporadic cloud cover provided occasional relief.

Varsity races

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Pearl Vercruysse.

The Vineyard varsity girls placed sixth among 12 teams, finishing ahead of Barnstable, Falmouth, Advanced Math and Science Academy (Marlborough), Sturgis West (Hyannis), New Bedford, and Fontbonne Academy (Milton). Notre Dame Academy of Hingham took first place.

Pearl Vercruysse led the Vineyarders, finishing 19th with a time of 21:42.22. Julia Neville (22:13.59) was 25th, Mary McCarthy (23:38.46) 39th, Sabrina Reppert (24:22.06) 45th, Emma Reimer (24:58.32) 54th, and Willow Wunsch (25:50.97) 61st.

The Vineyard varsity boys came in seventh overall, topping Sturgis West, Plymouth North, Falmouth, and Durfee of Fall River. Milton Academy were the boys champs.

Patrick Best had the fastest Vineyard time, 17:51.60, and placed 12th. Nate D’Angelo was 13th (17:59.90), followed by 22. Daniel Gaines 18:29.30; 36. Aiveras Gedvilas 18:59.37; 55. Josh Boucher 19:58.69; 68. Chase Silvia 21:04.45; and 72. Kevin Montambault 21:50.18.

Jayvee events

Highest placing Vineyarders in the jayvee races; Charlie Whalen (23rd overall), Ava Thors (24th overall).

Nearly 200 runners competed in the two junior varsity races. Ava Thors paced the Vineyard girls, placing 24th in 26:08.00. Next were 54. Lila Norris 29:10.31; 55. Katherine Reid 29:11.78; 67. Tessa Whitaker 31:36.75; 72. Megan Warenski 32:12.98; and 97. Autumn Richards 36:58.98.

Charlie Whalen (21:00.15), Otto Osmers (21:05.10), and Ethan Lefebvre (21:08.50) took positions 23 through 25 to lead the locals among the boys jayvees. 35. Aidan Aliberti 21:56.27; 37. Ryan O’Malley 22:02.26; 38. Justice Yennie 22:05.14; 48. Mitchell Chaves 23:12.02; 52. Evan Kristal 23:28.26; and 65. Nicholas Termini 24:34.69 rounded out the field for M.V.

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Sharks starter Austin DeCarr throws the first pitch to get the new FCBL season underway Wednesday night at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League raised their 2013 championship flag, then went out and chomped the North Shore Navigators 11-1 in the season opener before 800 fans on a misty Wednesday night at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs.

Sharks catcher Jon Mayer has North Shore's Alex Burridge right where he wants him at the play at the plate in the third inning.
Sharks catcher Jon Mayer has North Shore’s Alex Burridge right where he wants him at a play at the plate in the third inning.

Austin DeCarr (Clemson), a projected second to third round pick in the Major League Baseball draft got the start and earned the win. The 6’ 3” 215 lbs. hard-throwing right hander from Foxboro pitched four strong innings, allowing one hit, striking out seven, and walking three.

DeCarr’s teammates took out their wooden bats and gave him plenty of runs to work with.

Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), brother of new Sharks coach John Toffey, put the hosts up 1-0 in the first inning on an RBI ground out. The Navigators tied the score in the top of the third but it was all downhill from there for the visitors from Lynn.

The Sharks reeled off six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the third to take a 7-1 lead. Second baseman Jack Roberts, a 2013 MVRHS graduate attending Williams College led off with a single. Ryan Kelly (Salve Regina) and Rich Baerga (St. Thomas Aquinas) then singled to load the bases. Tim Bickford (Univ. of Bridgeport) singled to score Roberts and Kelly. The next three Sharks all doubled. John Mayer (Bucknell) knocked in Baerga and Bickford; Steve Buckley Jr. (Western New England) scored Mayer; and Brendan Cox (Mercyhurst) doubled in Buckley Jr.

The locals put the game away in the fifth after Buckley Jr. crushed a three-run homer to deep center and Ryan Kelly batted in Brendan Cox.

harks second baseman Jack Roberts is ready for action at third base.
Jack Roberts is ready for action at third base.

Kyle Brenner (Brandeis) came in for Austin DeCarr, pitching three solid innings, giving up two hits with two K’s and no walks. Mike Fitzgerald (Northeastern) and Matt Calamoneri (Univ. of Scranton) pitched the final two innings, striking out one batter each.

The Sharks are back at The Tank June 5 to face the Nashua Silver Knights. Saturday night prior to playing the Brockton Rox, the Sharks receive their championship rings and honor Tad Gold, a Vineyarder and former three-year starter. Last month, Tad was named Division III college player of the year. Saturday’s pre-game ceremony begins at 6 pm. Both games start at 7 pm.

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Jeff Charles of the Wildcats uncoils for a hit. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Summer sports at Veterans Park officially got underway Monday night with a Martha’s Vineyard Men’s Softball League doubleheader.

Wally "Gator" Tomkins of the Wildcats swings through the ball with his eyes sharply focused.
Wally “Gator” Tomkins of the Wildcats swings through the ball with his eyes sharply focused.

For the first time in three decades, the league opened play without the familiar forest green shirted Treds who disbanded over the winter. In their place, with some familiar faces, are the Whitecaps.

Due to scheduling with travel soccer, during the first two weeks of the season, men’s league games will start at 7 pm, with two seven-inning games per night in a one-pitch per batter format to speed up play.

The ‘Caps started off opening night with a 27-14 win over the Wildcats. Billy Johnson wasted little time putting the league newbies on top by crushing the game’s third pitch for a two-run homer. The Whitecaps led 4-1 after one and 6-3 after four but put the game out of reach by exploding for five, nine, and seven runs over the final three innings.

The Whitecaps' Mike Luongo rounds third after hitting his second homer of the game.
The Whitecaps’ Mike Luongo rounds third after hitting his second homer of the game.

Mike Luongo drilled two grand slams, one in the fifth and another in the sixth. Also in the sixth, Asa Vought hit a two-run single and Luke Bettencourt followed with a two-run double. Alex Bettencourt keyed the ‘Caps seventh with a grand slam of his own.

Not to be outdone, Anthony Piland blasted a grand slam in the bottom half of the seventh as the ‘Cats finished up strong by scoring eight runs.

In the nightcap, the Hurricanes scored early and often in a 27-3 win over Gustav.

James Holenko led off the game with a home run and slugged a second round-tripper in the second inning. Bobby Sprague homered in the first and launched a three-run triple deep to left in the second. Harrison Holmes also tripled in the second, scoring three, as the camouflaged ‘Canes built a 13-0 lead. Joel Rebello hit a two RBI double to key a six-run third.

Alec Tattersall and Ryan Welty had RBI singles in the bottom half of the second for Gustav.

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Children’s Hunter Reserve Champion Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley competed Sunday at the Agricultural Fairgrounds in West Tisbury in the first Martha's Vineyard Horse Council hunter show of the season. — Photo by Danielle Zerbonne

The Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council held its first hunter show of the summer season Sunday at the Agricultural Fairgrounds in West Tisbury. A dozen young riders competed in 15 classes.

Ava Stearns, 13, a West Tisbury School student riding on Zen L, placed first in nine events. Benjamin Parker, Karinne Nivala, Ashley Casey, Leigha Brigham, and Sydney Jasny also earned blue ribbons on the day.

Leigha-Brigham-Tiger-Lilly-2.JPGThe complete results are below:

  • Judge: Tobi Stall
  • Leadline Equitation: 1st Benjamin Parker
  • Leadline Suitability: 1st Benjamin Parker on Flash Me A Smile.
  • Walk/Trot Equitation: 1st Karinne Nivala; 2nd Ashley Casey.
  • Walk/Trot Pleasure : 1st Ashley Casey on Noble Zip; 2nd Karinne Nivala on Second Chance. Walk/Trot Champion: Karinne Nivala on Noble Zip.
  • Walk/Trot Reserve Champion: Ashley Casey on Second Chance.
  • Open Equitation Under 15 ­ Flat: 1st Ava Stearns, 2nd Sydney Jasny, 3rd Lila Norris
  • Open Equitation Under 15 ­ Fences: 1st Ava Stearns on Zen L, 2nd Lila Norris on One Up, 3rd Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley
  • Open Equitation Under 15 Champion: Ava Stearns on Zen L.
  • Open Equitation Under 15 Reserve Champion: Lila Norris on Mega Harley.
  • MVHC Mini Medal: 1st Ava Stearns on Zen L; 2nd Lila Norris on One Up, 3rd Leigha Brigham on Tiger Lilly; 4th Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley.
  • Special Hunter Over Fences: 1st Leigha Brigham on Tiger Lilly; 2nd Ava Stearns on Zen L; 3rd Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley; 4th Lila Norris on One Up.
  • Special Hunter Over Fences: 1st Ava Stearns on Zen L; 2nd Leigha Brigham on Tiger Lilly; 3rd Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley; 4th Lila Norris on One Up.
  • Special Hunter Under Saddle: 1st Ava Stearns; 2nd Lila Norris; 3rd Isabella Thorpe; 4th Leigha Brigham; 5th Sydney Jasny.
  • Special Hunter Champion: Ava Stearns on Zen L.
  • Special Hunter Reserve Champion: Leigha Brigham on Tiger Lilly.
  • Children’s Hunter Over Fences: 1st Ava Stearns on Zen L; 2nd Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley; 3rd Lila Norris on One Up.
  • Children’s Hunter Over Fences: 1st Ava Stearns on Zen L; 2nd Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley; 3rd Lila Norris on One Up.
  • Children’s Hunter Under Saddle: 1st Ava Stearns; 2nd Lila Norris; 3rd Sydney Jasny. Children’s Hunter Champion: Ava Stearns on Zen L.
  • Children’s Hunter Reserve Champion: Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley.
  • Pleasure Horse: 1st Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley; 2nd Julie Flanders on Sesame Street. Pleasure Horse Championship: Champion, Sydney Jasny on Mega Harley.
  • Reserve Champion: Julie Flanders on Sesame Street.
  • Low Hunter Under Saddle: 1st Ava Stearns; 2nd Sydney Jasny; 3rd Julie Flanders; 4th Lila Norris.

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The Sharks, who won it all in 2013, start their quest for an FCBL repeat June 4 at the Tank in Oak Bluffs. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the wooden-bat Futures Collegiate Baseball League begin their fourth season Wednesday, June 4, at 7 pm at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs against the North Shore Navigators of Lynn.

The Sharks are the defending league champions and finished the 2013 season with a 35-18 record.

This season, the 10 FCBL teams will compete in East and West divisions and play a 58-game schedule. The Sharks will play in the East alongside the Brockton Rox, North Shore Navigators (Lynn), Seacoast Mavericks (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), and the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide (Old Orchard Beach, Maine). The West comprises the Nashua Silver Knights (Nashua, New Hampshire), Wachusset Dirt Dawgs (Leominster), Pittsfield Suns, Torrington Titans (Torrington, Connecticut), and the expansion franchise Worcester Bravehearts.

The Sharks will have a new skipper this season as John Toffey takes over for Mike Miller as head coach. Mr. Toffey comes to the team after four years at the Salisbury School in Connecticut, where he has guided the Crimson Knights to a 46-1 record and two Western New England Prep School baseball championships over the past two seasons.

The new coach brings with him two top Major League prospects and potentially a third. Austin DeCarr is a big, hard-throwing right hander, scheduled to start opening night, who is expected to go as high as the second or third round of the MLB draft. DeCarr throws 92-93 mph on average. In his past two starts, he threw a two-hitter with 16 strikeouts and no walks to go with a complete game, one-hitter with 19 Ks. The bad news is that DeCarr is set to join Clemson University at the end of June. Will Toffey, brother of coach John Toffey, is a power hitting shortstop with a four-year scholarship to Vanderbilt, projected as an 8th to 10th round pick. The Sharks are also hoping to obtain the services of Salisbury’s Paul Campbell, a right-hander throwing in the high 80’s, also headed for Clemson. Campbell is projected as an 11th to 12th round pick.

Two additional promising new recruits are on the Sharks roster. John Kennedy, a junior at Nyack College in New York who has been scouted by the Cincinnati Reds, will be the team’s starting center fielder and gives the Sharks a real threat on the bases. The speedy Kennedy stole a league record 64 bases in his freshman year and added 40 more in each of the past two seasons at Nyack. Finally, William Montgomerie, also from the Salisbury School, was offered a four-year scholarship to UConn and should be an additional righty in the Sharks rotation.

The Sharks also have several players returning from last year’s championship squad, including closer Matt Calamoneri, 2013 MVRHS graduate Jack Roberts, pitcher Kyle Brenner, and outfielder Kevin Foley.

Vineyarder Tad Gold, a three-year starter with the Sharks and an FCBL all-star is not eligible to play for the team this season due to his graduation from Endicott College in Beverly, but he will be honored at the June 7 home game against the Brockton Rox.

Sharks season tickets are still available in limited quantities for stadium style reserved seats. The cost is $175 for 28 home games. Single game tickets are $10 for reserved seats. For bleacher seating, the cost is $6 adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children. Games start 7 pm.

Opening night June 4 is Little League night. All players and coaches in uniform get in for free. The Sharks host Nashua June 5, Brockton June 7, and Old Orchard Beach June 10.

To order tickets and for more information on the Sharks, visit www.mvsharks.com or call 508-687-9705.

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Peter Burke of the Red Sox and Team Regan throws the final pitch of the Major League game. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Little League all-stars from the Majors and Minors showcased their skills Sunday at Veira Park in the annual Memorial Day Classic.

Faith Thigpen of the Marlins and Team Gold raps out a hit in the Minor League all-star game.
Faith Thigpen of the Marlins and Team Gold raps out a hit in the Minor League all-star game.

The Majors took the field first. In a well-played game featuring all of the 12-year-olds currently playing in Little League, Team Regan edged Team Moore, 5-4. Peter Burke had two hits for Team Regan, while Kenny Hatt pitched solid middle relief for Team Moore.

Team Moore took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Summer Cardoza grounded out, plating Cam Moore on a close play at home. Team Regan responded with three in the second. Jared Regan hit a two-RBI double and Mikey Cosgrove knocked in another run with an RBI single.

In the third, Miles Sidoti singled and Jake Howell followed with a double to make it 3-2. The Moores tied the game in the top half of the fifth on Joe Serpa’s hard single to left field, scoring Colby Balboni.

Team Regan regained the lead, 4-3, in the bottom half. Luke Nivala used a nine-pitch walk to get on base and scored after Jared Regan forced an errant throw to second on a steal.

The teams traded runs in the 6th. Team Moore’s Jake Howell led off with his third hit of the day. Owen Bresnick then plated Howell with a deep double to center to tie the game at 4-4, but Team Regan answered with the eventual game-winner on a bases-loaded walk to Mike O’Brien.

Shortstop Jeremy Regan made two nice putouts in a 1-2-3 seventh to quell any hopes of a Team Moore comeback.

Silas Stanek-Streed is ready for action in the Minor League game.
Silas Stanek-Streed is ready for action in the Minor League game.

In the Minor League all-star game Team Gold outlasted Team Purple 21-11 in a 30-hit shootout. The Golds racked up 16 hits, while the Purples countered with 14 of their own. Nate Story and Matt Pouliot had three hits apiece; Kaleb Hatt had four RBIs; Eamon Savard three RBIs; and Nate Sawyer launched a rocket to the left field corner for a two-run triple to lead Team Gold. T.J. Lett pitched a strong first inning, holding Purple to one run and Owen diBiaso closed out a scoreless seventh by striking out two of the three batters he faced.

The Purple squad fell behind early, but kept battling back. Pitcher Jack Lionette got out of a first inning jam by striking out the last two batters he faced. At the plate, Tegan Fenner (double), Tobey Roberts (three hits) and Hardy Eville (four RBIs) led the way.

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Overall winner Chris Magill, left, and women's winner Bonnie Kingsbury. — Ralph Stewart

Chris Magill of Cumberland, R.I. won the 21st Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5K Road Race Sunday morning, topping the field of 491 runners with a time of 16:10. Bonnie Kingsbury of Edgartown was the women’s winner, placing 25th overall in 20:52. The event benefits Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.

The runners navigated the East Chop course under nearly perfect conditions with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60’s.

Matthew Zanchi of Natick (16:54) was the race runner-up. Ken Gartner of Falmouth (18:01) took third. Art Smith of Oak Bluffs had the fastest time among the locals, finishing fourth in 18:04. Rounding out the top ten were: 5. Mike Norton, Falmouth, 18:12; 6. Rene DaSilva, Vineyard Haven, 18:33; 7. Scott Bosworth, Dorchester, 18:46; 8. Daniel Gaines, Edgartown, 18:55; 9. Brian Bourque, East Falmouth, 19:08; 10. David Metz, Cambridge, 19:28.

Jack Lionette of Chilmark, age nine, also turned in a noteworthy performance, placing 16th in 20:27.

Lianne Swanson of Somerville was the women’s runner-up and finished 29 overall with a time of  21:00. Carole Hook, no address given (34th, 21:14); Gao Favreai of Charlestown (40th, 21:54); and Danielle Gougan of Maple Shade, New Jersey (42nd, 22:04), rounded out the women’s top five.

In addition to Daniel Gaines and Bonnie Kingsbury, four Islanders won their respective age divisions: Steven Katz, West Tisbury, male 60-69, 21:46; Mackenzie Condon, Edgartown, female 1-12, 22:43; Kelly Klaren, West Tisbury, female 13-19, 23:25; and Karen Lobdell, West Tisbury, female 60-69, 27:00.

Among the 76 walkers in the field, David Coppola of Wakefield, R.I. was the swiftest, crossing the line in 36:19.

Prior to the main event, 10-year-old Chris Magill Jr. showed that success in Oak Bluffs is a family affair by winning the one mile fun run in 6:33.

For complete results visit coolrunning.com/results/14/ma/May25_OakBlu_set1.shtml

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With Silas Berlin running in to help out, Jack Slayton (left) and Aksel Cooperrider have Nantucket's Dylan O'Connor caught in a rundown to close out the top of the second inning.

Martha’s Vineyard wrapped up the high school baseball season against island rival Nantucket on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon at Vineyard Baseball Park. The Vineyarders led, 4-3, after four innings, but the Whalers rallied with three runs in the fifth en route to a 7-5 win.

Nantucket jumped out to a 3-0 lead, courtesy of Ryan Holdgate’s three-run double in the top of the first inning, but the Vineyarders battled back with three of their own in the bottom half. Jack Slayton reached base on an error and Mike Mussell walked. Starting pitcher Tim Roberts stroked an RBI single to score Slayton. Andrew Wiley followed with a single down the left field line, scoring Mussell. Jacob Cardoza then grounded out but got the job done, scoring Roberts to tie the game.

The Vineyarders took a 4-3 lead in the second. With one out, Aksel Cooperrider smacked a double to left-center. Jack Slayton earned the RBI with a single to shallow right.

The Vineyard lead held up through four innings. Tucker McNeely came on to pitch for Tim Roberts to start the second and held the Whalers scoreless for three innings.

Nantucket grabbed the momentum in the fifth. Andrew Ray led off, ripping a single to left field. The Whalers loaded the bases on an error and a hit batter. Tucker McNeely left and Jacob Cardoza entered the game under most unenviable circumstances – with the bases juiced and nobody out.

The Whalers popped up to first, then scored the tying run on a squeeze play. Right fielder Nick Ciarmataro popped up his bunt. Tim Roberts, now playing first base, bolted toward home plate, dove to snag the ball but came up empty and Andrew Ray scored. Nantucket took the lead on a walk and made it 6-4 by beating out a throw to the plate. The Vineyarders avoided further damage on a force out at the plate and a fly out to Emerson Mahoney in center field.

The Whalers added some insurance with one more run in the seventh. Before they did, Jacob Cardoza struck out the side in the sixth and the first Whaler in the seventh — three batters looking and one watching.

Down to their final three outs, the Vineyarders (6-14) closed out the season fighting. With all on the Vineyard bench donning rally caps, Jack Slayton led off with a single to right and stole second base. Mike Mussell lined a single to right to give the Purple runners at the corners with one out. Slayton scored on an error, but the Vineyarders would get no closer.

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The Vineyard sailors will race next weekend at M.I.T. in the National Invitational Tournament.

Sailors from Martha's Vineyard (white and blue sails) and the Brunswick School (Greenwich, Conn.) come to the start during the NESSA Team Racing Championship for the Mark Trophy at Wianno Yacht Club in Osterville. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School sailors made their mark at The Mark. The Vineyarders competed in their first ever New England Scholastic Sailing Association (NESSA) Team Racing Championship, Saturday at the Wianno Yacht Club in Osterville. The prize at stake was the Fritz Mark Trophy, which is why the event is often known as “The Mark Trophy” or simply “The Mark.”

The Vineyard fleet in action against the Brunswick School of Greenwich, Connecticut. From left: Eli Hanschka and Zana Van Rooyen (boat 28); Charlie Murano and Ellie Reagan (boat 30); Raz Sayre and Anna Flaherty (boat 29).
The Vineyard fleet in action against the Brunswick School of Greenwich, Connecticut. From left: Eli Hanschka and Zana Van Rooyen (boat 28); Charlie Morano and Ellie Reagan (boat 30); Raz Sayre and Anna Flaherty (boat 29).

A place at The Mark is reserved for the top eight teams in New England, with a NESSA committee making the final selections. The Vineyarders (19-3) came in ranked sixth. When all was said and done after a long day of sailing, they finished as they were ranked, sixth. The top four teams returned to Wianno on Sunday, with top ranked St. George’s of Newport, Rhode Island and the hosts Cape Cod Academy earning berths to the national championship (Baker Trophy) next weekend in Seabrook, Texas.

If not for some plain old bad luck and unforeseen obstacles, the Vineyarders might well have returned for a second day at The Mark.

Instead, luck smiled upon the Vineyarders afterwards. Sunday afternoon, the team learned that Hotchkiss, the fourth place school at the Mark Trophy, had a conflict with graduation, opening the door for the Vineyarders to receive a bid to the National Invitational Tournament May 24-25 at M.I.T.

“Go figure,” Vineyard head coach Andrew Burr wrote in a text to The Times Sunday afternoon, adding in a second text Monday morning, “I’m really psyched that we got in.”

Raz Sayre and Anna Flaherty (left) come to the finish against Milton Academy.
Raz Sayre and Anna Flaherty (left) come to the finish against Milton Academy.

At The Mark on Saturday, the three Vineyard skipper/crew combinations: Raz Sayre/Anna Flaherty; Eli Hanschka/Zana van Rooyen; and Charlie Morano/Ellie Reagan all gave outstanding efforts. Maddy Moore and Lucas Dutton also saw action in various combinations. “Lucas and Maddy did a amazing job,” Coach Burr said. “One of the highlights for me was that Lucas said to Maggie [coach Maggie Lumkes] that being at the Mark Trophy was one of the coolest competitions he ever saw.”

Through 14 races and multiple twists and turns in the plot, the Vineyarders won six and lost eight. Cape Cod Academy (CCA), was first on the day, followed by St. George’s, Portsmouth Abbey (Portsmouth, R.I.), and Hotchkiss (Lakeville, Connecticut). Manchester-Essex, the other public school in the competition, also was 6-8 and finished fifth.

How things could’ve been different. In the first of two round robin sessions against the seven other schools, the Vineyarders opened against CCA. With M.V. in front, a funny thing happened on the way to the finish — a gudgeon on one of the CCA boats broke off and the race had to be re-sailed. A pity, that. CCA won the re-sail. In the second race, the Vineyarders defeated St. George’s but the race was re-sailed after St. George’s filed for a redress over the placement of a mark on the course. The race committee granted the redress and St. George’s won the re-sail. After losing narrowly to Portsmouth Abbey, the Vineyarders met the Brunswick School from Greenwich, Connecticut and lost a victory due to protest. On a positive note, they won a protest after losing to Milton Academy. After a wild and wooly first round robin, the Vineyarders stood at 1-6.

They began the second round with losses to Cape Cod Academy and St. George’s. With their backs against the wall and a top four spot slipping away, the Vineyarders rose up and proudly took their place among the region’s elite programs, defeating Portsmouth Abbey and reeling off four more wins to close out the day.

“The third race in the second round robin [against Portsmouth Abbey] turned the day around for them,” Coach Burr said. “It couldn’t have been a sweeter race. It put the fire back in them. We sailed so well. They made all of the plays they had to make to win the race — right up the line, clean, and in control. From that race on they were undefeated.”

Coach Burr, who is assisted by Maggie Lumkes and Jesse Thomas, gave the lion’s share of the credit to his sailors.

“It’s not about me, it’s their accomplishment,” he said. “Martha’s Vineyard is an incredibly good sailing team. There’s an incredible respect between the Vineyard and the other teams [at The Mark]. Teams like Cape Cod Academy want to practice with us.”

The Vineyarders are not quite finished with their best season to date. In addition to sailing in the N.I.T. next weekend, they will vie for the Cape and Islands League championship May 31-June 1.