Monthly Archives: August 2016


By Steve Krause

WILLISTON, N.D. — “There are going to be tears, and this is going to hurt for a while. The only thing that will heal it is time.”

Lynn Babe Ruth manager Leon Elwell couldn’t have asked any more out of his team in this Babe Ruth World Series, and he knows that.

Sure, there were games where errors really hurt. Not every player who came up in clutch situations delivered. If that were the case, Lynn would be playing in today’s championship game. But they bowed out Thursday night with a 7-6 loss to Eau Claire, Wisc., that left a bad taste in the mouths of the players, coaches and parents.

But that shouldn’t, in any way, detract from what the team accomplished, Elwell said.

“I couldn’t have been prouder of them,” said Elwell. “They gave up their whole summer.”

This team began playing tournament baseball the last week in June. School was still in session when its practices began.

“And,” said Kim Wilkins, one of the parents who made the trip to Williston to watch her son, James, “when they come home, it’s going to be right back to school. This was their summer.”

There will be plenty to do once they get back. Many, including David Barnard, Anthony Nikolakakis and Michael Leavitt, will be heading to football practice for Classical, St. Mary’s and Essex Tech respectively. Aedan Leydon will head for the links as part of the St. Mary’s golf team.

Christian Burt will simply rest and heal. He was the victim of an unfortunate play the loss to Eau Claire.

It was in the second inning, and Burt was pitching, protecting a 5-2 lead. It was a 1-2-3 inning, which was exactly what he needed after Eau Claire scored two unearned runs in the first.

But with two out, catcher Colin Lekvin hit a one-hopper back to the mound, and Burt’s momentum in fielding it carried him toward first base. Rather than throw over to Nikolakakis on first, Burt chose to keep going and put the tag on Lekvin himself.

“He did exactly what you’re supposed to do in that situation,” Elwell said. “He held the ball with two hands and was waiting for him.”

Lekvin, however, did not give himself up. Instead, he collided with Burt in an effort to dislodge the ball. He succeeded. But in the estimation of the umpire on the field, he violated the Babe Ruth rule that states, “if a runner attempting to reach home plate or another base intentionally and maliciously runs into a defensive player in the area of home plate or a base, he will be called out and ejected from the game.”

Lekvin was ejected, but the consequences were far worse for Lynn. Burt writhed on the ground, in obvious pain. And despite making his best efforts to go on, he hurt his shoulder and had to depart.

“Not only do we lose our best pitcher, we lose one of our best bats,” said Elwell. “We play the game the right way. They should teach their kids how to play the game the right way.”

Elwell and Eau Claire manager Nathan Kilness would also be ejected as tensions between the two were amped up well into the next inning.

Matt Gisonno was called upon to protect Lynn’s lead and that’s exactly what he did until an unfortunate set of circumstances let to Eau Claire scoring twice in the seventh inning to overcome a 6-5 deficit and win the game.

“Matt was awesome,” Elwell said. “He gave his team a chance to win the game.”

Along the way, A.J. Luciano knocked home four of Lynn’s six runs, including three in a five-run first inning and a critical (at the time) insurance tally in the top of the sixth inning that made the score 6-4.

Eau Claire scored once in the bottom of the sixth, setting the stage for the seventh-inning drama.

It started with back-to-back one-out walks. With two outs, a balk moved both runners into scoring position.

Isaac Pape (pronounced Papi), who had been a tough out for the entire game, hit the first pitch Gisonno threw right on the screws, and it got down to Dayshon Anderson at third in a hurry … too much of a hurry for anyone to be able to field it, according to Elwell, who watched the game from behind the center-field fence.

“He had no chance on that,” Elwell said. “I know he feels badly because he wanted to make the play, but that was definitely a hit.”

One run scored, and even though Anderson tried, vainly, to cut off left fielder Barnard’s throw and relay to the plate, it was too late, and the winning run came across.

The team returns Sunday, and is scheduled to arrive at Breed Middle School around 2:30 p.m., according to league president Jim Beliveau.

By | August 21st, 2016|News|0 Comments


Michael Leavitt throws the ones up after Lynn’s 5-2 win over Columbia Basin, Wash., Wednesday. Photo by John Geyerman

By Steve Krause

WILLISTON, N.D. — With no room for error, Lynn made sure it kept them to a minimum.

One day after fielding miscues cost them a game and put them into a must-win situation Wednesday in the Babe Ruth World Series, the Lynn 15s played almost flawlessly in defeating Columbia Basin, Wash., 5-2. The team advanced to the quarterfinals Thursday (8:30 p.m. EDT) against Eau Claire, Wisc., at Ardean Aafedt Stadium.

“We’ve been Jekyll and Hyde,” said manager Leon Elwell. “We played poorly Saturday and turned it around Monday; then we played poorly (Tuesday) and played a very good game (Wednesday). That’s the difference.”

After making six errors against Tallahassee, Fla., and suffering a crushing 11-7 loss Tuesday, Lynn made only one miscue Wednesday. That was with two out in the seventh inning. The Lynners also took advantage of five Washington errors.

But the story of the game was pitcher Aedan Leydon, who hasn’t pitched all summer. Leydon, the starting second baseman, got the ball because Lynn’s two main pitchers, David Barnard and Christian Burt, were unavailable. Barnard threw 117 pitches Tuesday in the loss to Florida, and Burt pitched in Monday’s win over West Fargo, N.D.

Elwell chose between Leydon and A.J. Luciano, and picked Leydon, with Luciano playing second. He would prove pivotal in the win as well.


Pitcher Aedan Leydon tossed a complete game Wednesday, allowing just two runs. (Photo by John Geyerman) Pitcher Aedan Leydon tossed a complete game Wednesday, allowing just two runs. (Photo by John Geyerman)

For his part, Leydon only struck out three. But with his defense tightening up considerably, the balls Washington did put into play turned into outs.

“I have to thank my defense today,” he said. “They played real well behind me. I pitch to contact, so I needed them to play well and they did.”

Elwell wasn’t concerned with Leydon mentally.

“I knew he’d compete,” said Elwell. “I was worried about fatigue. It was hot out there (a couple of car thermometers showed 100 degrees) and he hasn’t pitched in a while.”

His fears proved groundless. Leydon threw only 103 pitches and went the distance.

His teammates helped by staking him to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

Once again, Elwell juggled his lineup a bit, inserting Brett Bucklin into the leadoff spot. And the move paid off. After Kevin Durant, the No. 10 batter, hit a one-out single, Bucklin followed with another one. After Durant was erased on a pickoff, Leydon walked. Burt ripped a single to left, scoring Buckin. The throw back into the infield went wide, allowing Leydon to come home and Burt to go to third. He came home moments later on a passed ball.

Washington got two-out singles by Dax Lindgren, Peter Aspholm and Emmitt Tatum to get a run back. But Leydon got out of that jam with a grounder to third.

Things remained quiet until the fifth when Lynn increased the lead to 5-1. Zach Elwell led off with a walk, and James Wilkins ran for him. Wilkins, after stealing second, scored on a Danny Lilja ground ball to second base, on which Tatum went far to his left to haul in, only to throw it wide to first. Lilja ended up on third on the play, and Bucklin brought him home on a grounder to third.

Leydon ran into some difficulty in the bottom of the fifth. Evan McLean led off with an infield hit, stole second, and scored on Vance Alvaredo’s base hit.

Alvaredo also stole second, and went to third on Josh Baker’s groundout. Tatum walked, and Washington tried a double steal. Lynn had been trying throughout the tournament to throw down to second in an attempt to trick the runner on third into breaking for the plate. The second baseman cuts the throw off behind the mound and fires back home if there’s a play.

Luciano had one this time, and Zach Elwell just managed to tag the hard-sliding Alvaredo for the third out.

“That was a great play,” Leon Elwell said. “We’ve been practicing that all week.”

That play drained whatever gas Washington had left in the tank. Columbia Basin went 1-2-3 in the sixth and its only threat in the seventh came as the result of Lynn’s only error, though Durant picked Josh Jesse’s liner to center up off a blade of grass out there for the first out, one of several stellar defensive plays for Lynn.

“Now,” said Leon Elwell, “we are one of the six best teams in the country.”

From here on out, a loss means elimination from the tournament.

By | August 18th, 2016|News|0 Comments


The team greets Anthony Nikolakakis at the plate after his third-inning grand slam.

By Steve Krause

WILLISTON, N.D. — There was so much symmetry in Lynn’s 10-0 Babe Ruth World Series win over West Fargo Monday that it’s tough to know where to begin.

For starters, there’s the score — the same as the one Saturday in which Lynn lost its series opener to Atlantic Shore, N.J.

Then there are the circumstances. Saturday, it all unraveled in the third inning, when Shore scored six runs. Monday, Fargo unraveled in the third and Lynn also scored six runs.

Shore won via the 10-run rule, and Lynn did too, as a fielder’s choice ground ball by Luke Boisselle brought home run No. 10 in the sixth inning.

The big difference, though, was that Lynn played a complete game. Anthony Nikolakakis hit a grand slam in the six-run third, and Dayshon Anderson hit a solo homer two innings later. Both were majestic shots that easily cleared the left-field fence.

Pitcher Christian Burt threw five shutout innings, only getting into any real trouble once, in the second, and he got out of it. Michael Leavitt pitched the sixth for Lynn.

“We can exhale a little,” said Lynn manager Leon Elwell. “They (Fargo) played the same way we played Saturday and you cannot do that in the World Series.

“It has to be pretty awesome, though, for Anthony and Dayshon to hit home runs in the Babe Ruth World Series, though,” he said.

Pitcher Christian Burt. (Photo by John Geyerman)
Pitcher Christian Burt tossed five shutout innings for Lynn Monday night. (Photo by John Geyerman)

Nikolakakis was happy with the way Lynn responded after Saturday’s loss.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You can’t keep that stuff in your head. I think we played our game tonight. We were loud and energetic. I cannot thank my teammates enough.”

Nikolakakis got the ball rolling for Lynn in the bottom of the second, doubling home Brett Bucklin, who had walked and taken second on a wild pitch.

In the third, West Fargo self-destructed. With one out, A.J. Luciano walked and was safe at second when Fargo’s shortstop booted Aedan Leydon’s grounder.

Leydon was erased on a fielder’s-choice grounder by Burt, but David Barnard an Anderson reached on successive errors, with each miscue scoring a run to make it 3-0.

Bucklin, who had been moved up in the order by Elwell and was in the middle of both run-producing innings, beat out an infield hit to load the bases.

That brought up Nikolakakis, who rifled a shot over the fence for a grand slam.

“I thought I hit it good,” Nikolakakis said. “But I also knew I had to hustle just the same so I could get to third.”

It was Lynn’s only hit in the inning, and all six runs were unearned.

After a scoreless fourth, Lynn was back for two more in the fifth, one of them on Anderson’s home run, the other when Bucklin scored on another West Fargo error.

Leavitt and Matt Gisonno walked to lead off the sixth, with both moving up on Burt’s grounder to second. Boisselle then hit his grounder to end the game.

“We hit the ball, Christian was throwing strikes, and we played great defense, and that was the difference between tonight and Saturday. We played great defense,” Elwell said.

The win evens Lynn’s record in pool play at 1-1, good for third place in the National Division. Lynn’s two remaining games are against Tallahassee, Fla., Tuesday (noon EDT), which is 2-0; and Wednesday against Columbia Basin, Wash, which is 0-2. West Fargo fell to 0-3.

The top three teams in both the American and National divisions move onto the single-elimination quarterfinals, which begin Thursday. The top team in each division gets a bye, and the second- and third-place teams cross over to play inter-divisional games Thursday. The winners play the top seeds Friday in the semifinals, with the championship game Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT.

By | August 15th, 2016|News|0 Comments


Erick Ubri, left, and Zach Elwell, right, express their displeasure after Lynn’s 10-0 loss to Atlantic Shore, N.J., Saturday afternoon.

By Steve Krause

WILLISTON, N.D. — The disparity was too much to overlook. While Atlantic Shore, N.J., was running wild, Lynn ran itself out of the game.

That’s the story, in a nutshell, of Saturday’s Babe Ruth World Series-opening loss to Shore, a 10-0 drubbing that was over in just 4½ innings.

“You can’t play the way we played and expect to win the World Series,” said Lynn manager Leon Elwell. “We just didn’t make plays in the field, and we had an inning there where we had a real opportunity and we made too many mistakes.”

Shore stole six bases, two of them in a first inning that gave it the only run it would need. Nick Atohi singled up the middle with one out, and went to second on an infield hit by Solomon Griffith. They each moved up a base via steals, and then Atohi came home on a wild pitch.

“That’s us,” said Shore manager Bill Rauzzino, who, in the 1980s, managed in the Swampscott Babe Ruth system. “That’s what we like to do. I think both teams had jitters, and I think running helped get some of ours out, and I also think it unsettles the other team more.”

Elwell wasn’t sure about that.

“I don’t think them stealing had anything to do with how we played,” Elwell said. “We didn’t make the plays.”

Lynn had a chance to answer that run, and then some, in the top of the second inning. Dayshon Anderson led off with a triple. But with Anthony Nikalakakis up, one of pitcher Cole Vanderslice’s pitches broke past catcher Athoi. Anderson started to break for home, then stopped, and then broke again and was tagged out. The play proved very costly because Nikalakakis followed with a base hit to right.

Lynn’s Dayshon Anderson, left, is tagged out at home after attempting to score on a wild pitch. (Photo by John Geyerman)

However, Nikalakakis would also be thrown out on the bases. Zach Elwell squared to bunt, but the pitch was high and outside. Nikalakakis broke for second, but Atohi gunned him down.

“We had Anderson with a triple to lead off, and we don’t score,” Elwell said. “Those are mistakes we just shouldn’t be making by now.”

To make matters even worse, Elwell was hit by a pitch, and it just further underscored the potentially big inning that went by the boards.

Shore responded in the bottom of the third by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs off starting pitcher David Barnard and reliever Matt Gisonno. Vanderslice and Atohi had back-to-back walks to lead off, and, after Vanderslice stole third, Griffith knocked him in with a single. Omar Hernandez cleared the bases with a triple to make the score 4-0.

Devin Sharkey scorched a grounder to Anderson, who chose to go home to get Hernandez, but the ball bounced past Elwell and the fifth run scored. William Storck followed with a single, and Nick Abrams brought them both home with another triple to make the score 7-0.

Shore was back for three more in the fourth to make it 10-0. Atohi, Griffith and each walked, followed by RBI singles by Storck and Abrams. The 10th run came home on Nick Walsh’s sacrifice fly.

By | August 13th, 2016|News|0 Comments


Members of the victorious Babe Ruth 15s took a tour through the city after winning the New England Regional tournament earlier this week.


The Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars will play the first game of the 2016 World Series in Williston, N.D., when it opens on Aug. 13.

Lynn, which won the New England regionals by defeating North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., in the championship game Tuesday, is one of 10 teams participating. The teams will be split into two divisions, American and National.

Lynn has been placed in the National Division, along with teams representing the Middle Atlantic, Southeast, Pacific Northwest and the state champions from North Dakota.

In the American Division are teams from Ohio Valley, Midwest Plains, Southwest, Pacific Southwest and the host team of Williston.

Lynn’s opening game will be against the Middle Atlantic at 11 a.m. Participating teams will play games against all the others in their pool. Lynn’s other games are Monday, Aug. 15, against North Dakota; Tuesday, Aug. 16, against Southeast; and Wednesday, Aug. 17 against the Pacific Northwest.

The top three teams in each division will move on. The No. 1 seeds in both receive byes, and the quarterfinals, in which the second- and third-place teams cross over to play each other will take place Thursday, Aug. 18, with the third-place American vs. second-place National beginning at 5 p.m. The other game will follow at 7:30.

Semifinals, both of which pit the quarterfinal winners against the top seeds in each division, are Friday, Aug. 19, at 5 and 7.30 respectively. The final is Saturday, Aug. 20, at 1 p.m.

In all, the team is expected to be gone for 10 days, regardless of how far it gets. According to Lynn board member Jeff Earp, the teams must report on Aug. 11 and depart Aug. 21. National Babe Ruth will pay for transportation for the players, one manager and two coaches, Earp said.

The teams that are eliminated prior to Aug. 21 may be able to leave if Babe Ruth can arrange earlier flights, Earp said, but otherwise must either stay or pay to change the flight themselves.

“Obviously the actual financial responsibility and burden falls directly on the parents,” Earp said. “We, the league, feel it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to curb and reduce the costs associated with going to the World Series. It’s a heavy burden.”

Babe Ruth has begun the task of fundraising to help defray costs for the trip. Boston College women’s hockey goalie Katie Burt, whose cousin, Christian, was co-MVP for the New England tournament, has set up a GoFundMe page that raised $1,500 on its first day.

Babe Ruth is also accepting donations, care of PO Box 501 Lynn, 01905.

“(We all) know what it takes to get (to the World Series),” Earp said. “It not only takes talent, but some large quantities of luck and good fortune.”

“Anyway, these kids are going, and we need to get them there,” he said.

By | August 3rd, 2016|News|0 Comments