Boston High School: Conner Laraway

D1 Baseball: Algonquin 4, Westfield 3

June, 14, 2012
CHICOPEE, Mass. --- Talk about a flair for the dramatic.

Reminiscent of a knock-down, drag-out heavyweight match, Algonquin scored the technical knockout on Westfield, 4-3, to advance to the Division I state championship Saturday against Eastern Mass. Champion Xaverian.

In a game that saw two ties and a ninth-inning out at third base, it's safe to say the Szot Park crowd got its fair share of the dramatic.

Trailing 4-3 in the ninth inning, Westfield appeared to have runners at the corners with only one out following Conner Laraway's infield single. But after Laraway was ruled safe at first base, pinch-runner Jake Toomey was caught rounding third base, and as he attempted to get back to the bag, was nailed by a strong throw by first baseman Christian Miller and prompt tag applied by pitcher Luke Serra.

The Bombers would get another runner in scoring position but were unable to capitalize as Kyle Murphy's grounder up the middle was scooped by Algonquin shortstop Jim Temte for the final out.

"The kids are playing well," said Algonquin head coach Neil Burke, whose Tomahawks, just the No. 10 seed in the Central Mass. bracket, improved to 16-9 ahead of Saturday's state final. "We're getting breaks and making some of our own.

"A win like this shows the type of kids we have," Burke continued. "We're resilient and confident."

Algonquin had the opportunity to show its resiliency on multiple occasions Thursday, weathering three Westfield surges.

The Central Mass. champs got the scoring started in the top of the fourth, plating a pair. After singles by John Friday and Vik Kozica, and a wild pitch from Westfield ace Lee Albertson, Algonquin was threatening with two runners in scoring position. A sacrifice by Miller and a Tim Benson single saw the Tomahawks take an early 2-0 lead.

Westfield, however, would not be outdone. After a near rally in the bottom of the fifth inning, Westfield got even in their half of the sixth inning, plating two runs on a pair of hits. With one out, Adam Mayhew reached base after a Zach Gray pitch grazed his jersey. Anthony Nomakeo followed with a rope double hammered down the left field line. Chugging from first base, Mayhew missed coach Gary Discenza's stop sign at third base but slid across home plate safely when the relay throw from Temte sailed over the catcher's head.

Westfield shortstop Aris Laurencuent evened things up in the next at bat with a seeing-eye single up the middle that somehow found its way underneath Temte's outstretched glove.

In the top of the seventh, Algonquin got one back and took a one-run lead. Chris Strobel took a two-out fastball to the gap in right centerfield for a single. Pinch-running for Strobel, Mike Stamos stole second and scored on Mike Baker's pinch-hit single, putting the Tomahawks up 3-2 in the seventh.

Still, Westfield again got even in the bottom of the eighth inning. Mayhew reached with a leadoff single and moved to second on Nomakeo's sacrifice bunt. Ethan Atkocaitis hammered a single to the right-centerfield gap, sending Mayhew home with ease.

And finally, in the top of the ninth, Algonquin again took the lead. But this time, it was for good.

Benson reached to lead off when he was hit by a pitch. He was moved to third behind a pair of sacrifices, ultimately scoring on Malik Daley's sacrifice liner to dead center. Laraway made the diving catch on the sinking liner but his throw couldn't beat Benson hustling from third.

"I knew he would come after me," said Daley. "I just wanted to hit it hard somewhere. We've just been on a roll. Our pitching and defense has been unbelievable."

Algonquin starter Zach Gray tossed seven complete, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out four. He allowed just two runs.

Maneuvers: Substitutions paid off handsomely for Burke in the crucial top of the seventh.

After Strobel reached base with a single, Burke placed Stamos on first base as a pinch runner and inserted Baker to hit for third baseman Zach Teplansky.

The move couldn't have turned out any better than the stolen base and go-ahead single that followed.

"We knew that in a game like this, we had to make something happen," Burke said. "We were able to use our speed and knew we needed to steal a base."

Baker has thrived in his role this season as a pinch-hitter.

Everyday Starter: Albertson tossed a complete-game two-hitter Saturday in the Bombers' Western Mass. Sectional. Blame the rain if you're Algonquin.

He was to be out of commission if the game had been played Tuesday in its regularly-scheduled slot. With two extra days, though, Albertson was ready to go.

"The rain certainly helped," Discenza said. "We knew we had to get to the finals in order to win it and we thought Lee was our best chance to do it."

Albertson finished his second straight complete-game effort, scattering six hits. At one point, the senior retired nine straight to give Westfield a chance to come back.

Recap: No. 14 Westfield 4, No. 4 E. 'Meadow 1

May, 6, 2012
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Historically speaking, geography makes the best rivalries. The proverbial border wars that come year in and year out are must-see matchups regardless of records.

A rivalry brought on by nearly unmatched success between two teams over a certain timespan, however, shouldn’t be discounted. And in the case of Westfield and East Longmeadow, two of the premier baseball programs in Western Massachusetts year in and year out, that rivalry has never been better.

Sunday’s latest installment was a testament to that.

Westfield, the No. 14 team in the latest ESPN Boston MIAA Baseball poll, used a three-run first-inning and an efficient and otherwise dominant complete-game effort from senior Lee Albertson to knock off No. 4 East Longmeadow. It was the first loss of the season for the Spartans (12-1) while the Bombers improved to 11-1.

With four-year starter and URI commit Steve Moyers on the mound, Westfield didn’t waste any time or allow him to settle in. A leadoff single from Conner Laraway followed by a sacrifice attempt turned two-base throwing error led to early scoring opportunities for the Bombers. Billy Smith, Adam Mayhew and Dan Jacques all drove in runs in succession, giving Westfield a 3-0, first-inning lead against the usually unflappable Moyers.

“[Moyers] is a great pitcher and we’ve seen him before,” said Mayhew, who finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. “We wanted to get to him early and get deep in the count. This is definitely a statement win for us.”

The Spartans grabbed a run in their half of the second inning but that was as much offense as they’d see the rest of the night thanks to Albertson.

The senior righthander threw a complete-game and improved to 4-0 on the season. He allowed just two hits and struck out five, gaining momentum as his efficient outing progressed. He closed out his 79-pitch masterpiece with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, including a punch out for the final out.

“Lee is throwing harder now than he was in the beginning of the season and that’s helped him,” said Westfield head coach Rich Discenza. “He throws the cutter and that’s what helped him today. He’s around the plate and is able to get out of tough spots and get back on track.”

This was the fifth time these two teams have met since the 2009 season. East Longmeadow came out on top last season, defeating Albertson, 4-2. In 2010, the Spartans beat Westfield twice, 3-2 in the regular season and again by the same score in the sectional semifinal. The Bombers avenged a regular season loss in 2009 by knocking off the Spartans in the Western Mass. championship game.

If recent history is any indication, these two teams haven’t seen the last of each other this season. With Westfield’s win over East Longmeadow, there are now only three one-loss teams in the region (Springfield Cathedral is the other). Westfield was the only team to knock off Cathedral and the two rivals play again May 18. East Longmeadow and Cathedral square off Wednesday.

“Now it’s back to work for us,” said East Longmeadow shortstop and UConn signee Matt O’Neil. “They beat us today, they were a better team. If anything this loss will help us out a bit. If we see them in playoff time, we’ll have this thought in the back of our minds.”

Moyers lost his first of the year, falling to 4-1. He scattered nine hits and struck out five.

Conner Laraway had two hits and scored twice and Tim Donahoe had a pair of hits, including a double, for Westfield. Moyers and Brian Casey had East Longmeadow’s two hits.

Bay State Games: Day 6 Recap

July, 10, 2011
Courtesy Bay State Games media relations director Peter Cohenno:

New England Sports Center – Marlboro, MA

Boys Scholastic

Metro 4, Central 1
Metro defeated Central, 4-1, and advanced to the Gold Medal game for the second straight year. Metro grabbed the early 1-0 lead when Chris Maguire (Waltham, Waltham HS) scored midway through the first period. Central’s Justin Huard (Auburn, Auburn HS) punched in a backhander just over three minutes later to knot the score at 1-1. In the second period, Metro defenseman Brian Rowland (Waltham, BB & N) took a slap shot off the foot, went down, got right up and started the break out by launching a pass that sprung Brendan Kerrigan (South Boston, BB&N) free. Kerrigan flipped a nice backhander for the eventual game-winner. Rowland finished the game with a goal and an assist. Metro added an empty net goal, and will play Northeast in the gold medal game.

Northeast 6, Coastal 4
Coastal mounted a three-goal comeback, but fell short to Northeast, 6-4. Northeast forward Kevin Doherty (Wakefield, Wakefield HS) recorded a hat trick. Fellow linemate Blaise Heally (Melrose, Tilton School) contributed to the Northeast attack, and finished the game with two goals and an assist. Coastal at one point trailed 4-1, but was able to tie the score 4-4 with under two minutes to play. Coastal, in need of a win to advance, pulled their goaltender in an attempt to break the tie score, only to see Northeast score two empty net goals. Northeast advanced to the gold medal game with the win.

Southeast 5, West 4
Southeast scored two late goals to edge West, 5-4. Southeast’s attack was led by forward Thomas Troy (Braintree, Braintree HS) and by defenseman Dan Curran (Milton, Milton HS) who each registered a goal and an assist. West got stellar play from Conner Laraway (Westfield, Westfield HS) who recorded a hat trick. Laraway’s third goal gave West a 4-3 lead early in the second half. West’s goaltending duo of Tommy McCarthy (Longmeadow, Longmeadow HS) and Nick Stasack (West Springfield, Loomis-Chaffee Prep) turned away shot after shot and gave West a chance to win it late.

Bronze Medal Game
Central 1, Coastal 0
Central declared winner by forfeit.

Gold Medal Game
Metro 5, Northeast 3
Metro took home the gold medal behind a three goal second period and defeated Northeast, 5-3. Metro defenseman Brian Rowland (Waltham, BB & N) broke the scoreless game when he rocketed a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Rowland added an assist on the first of two goals by Brendan Kerrigan (South Boston, BB & N). Northeast’s Blaise Heally (Melrose, Tilton School) continued his scoring tear and notched two goals in the game. Heally’s nine goals in six games led the team and all tournament scorers in the 2011 Summer Games. Northeast’s goaltending duo of Alex Buckley (Newburyport, Newburyport HS) and Andrew Loblundo (Boxboro, Acton Boxboro HS) had 17, and 21 saves, respectively.

Girls Scholastic

Central/West 7, Northeast/ Metro 1
Central/West pulled away in the second period to defeat Northeast/ Metro, 7-1. Leading the way for Central/West was Katie Lombardozzi (Leominster, Nashoba Regional HS) and Kayla O’Connor (Springfield, Deerfield Academy) who each chipped in with two goals and an assist. Jackie Tavella (East Longmeadow, Deerfield Academy) also grabbed a goal and an assist. Northeast/ Metro goaltender Hannah Insuik (Andover, Deerfield Academy) made 39 saves.

Southeast/Coastal 8, Metro/Northeast 0
Southeast/Coastal was dominant from the start and coasted to an 8-0 victory over Metro/Northeast. The win gave Southeast/Coastal the gold medal while Central/West took home silver. Emily Kelly (Norwood, Norwood HS) had a hat trick and Samantha Fallon (Pembroke, Dexter) added two goals and an assist for the winners.

Waltham High School – Waltham, MA

Boys Scholastic

Gold Medal Game
West 2, Northeast 0

Bronze Medal Game
Southeast 3, Coastal 0

Girls Scholastic

Gold Medal Game
West 2, Central 1

Bronze Medal Game
Northeast 3, Southeast 0

Regis College – Weston, MA

Gold Medal Game
Coastal 4, Metro 3

Bronze Medal Game
Northeast 15, Central 1

Marblehead claims first-ever D3 hockey title

March, 20, 2011

BOSTON -- A flurry of goals in the second period from the Marblehead Magicians was the turning point of the Division 3 boys' hockey championship Sunday at the TD Garden, a 6-3 victory over the Westfield Bombers, for their first ever D-3 Title.

“Indescribable,” Marblehead senior Ryan Dempsey said, “Everybody was so happy, we’ve lost is such big games, so to win a game like this is indescribable, the best.”

The first five minutes of the game were played inside Westfield’s blue line. Marblehead forced five early saves out of Bombers goalie Nick Liberto (21 saves total). But it was Westfield who got on the scoreboard first at 5:12 on their first shot of the game. Nick Sibilia stole the puck just inside the Marblehead blue line and beat Magician’s goalie Tony Cuzner (8 saves) one on one.

Austin Haley evened the score at one all at 7:37, knocking in a rebound from point blank, seniors Chris McLeod and Tyler Gelineau assisting. Westfield took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to Conner Laraway who added a rebound goal of his own with exactly one minute remaining in the period. Bombers forward Matt Gagnon had sent junior Kyle Levere in on a breakaway with a tape to tape pass from inside his defensive end. Levere’s shot was saved but Laraway couldn’t miss.
In the second period Marblehead seized control of the game for good with a flurry of goals, two on the power play.

“We wanted to just go out and win the second period, and play as well as we could,” Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson of his first intermission team talk, “And we went out and scored four goals, so we were happy.”

Westfield’s Nate Barnes picked up the games first penalty 2:36 into the second and the Magicians made the man advantage count. Senior Ryan Dempsey made a highlight reel backhand pass from behind the goal to McLeod who one-timed the finish tying the game at tow a piece. Thirty two seconds later the Magicians took the lead for good, Ben Koopmen blasted home a slap shot from just inside the blue line after Gelineau won the faceoff.

Jake Kulevich scored twice in the second period, his first on a rebound (4:40) and his second a shot that trickled through the Liberto’s 5-hole at 9:09.
Gagnon cut Westfield’s deficit to just two goals after his shot from a tough angle found the back of the net. But Hunter Graves scored the final goal of the game just 58 seconds into the third sniping his shot into the top corner for a 6-3 final.

After the game Marblehead talked about the hard work of the upperclassmen. “We have nine guys that have been here for four years, and I can’t begin to tell you the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm they brought with them everyday” Marblehead head coach Bob Jackson said of his seniors.

“We had a nice little moment after the game,” Kulevich said of the locker room celebration, “ We brought it in [after the game] one last time, there’s a lot of guys leaving this team, the coaches were great, and the coaches broke it down.”