Connecticut Sports Online
An assortment of stories and links to the top sports news in Connecticut and the nation.

This page was last updated on: August 7, 2001

2001 NECBL championship series
Game 3: Newport 2, Keene 1
NEWPORT, R.I., Aug. 6 -- Before the finals had begun, they had lost their entire starting infield to injuries but the Newport Gulls simply regrouped and played with the tenacity of a champion.

Billy Grasier scored on a sacrifice fly from Kainoa Obrey in the sixth inning to give the Gulls a one-run lead. Teammate Joel Kirsten and reliever Brian Jacobsen shut down the Keene Swamp Bats the rest of the way to lift the Gulls to a 2-1 victory over the Swamp Bats in the decisive game 3 of the NECBL championship series in front of a vocal crowd of more than 1,000.

The win gives Newport a 2-1 victory in the best-of-three series and its first NECBL title. Last year, Keene rallied to beat the Rhode Island Gulls for its first league title.

Kirsten, who was named the playoff MVP, was outstanding, allowing only one run on eight hits. He struck out 10 and walked none in eight innings work. Jacobsen struck out one in the ninth inning.

Keene took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Kevin Melillo tripled and scored on a RBI single by Myron Lesile. Keene had several chances to extend its lead but stranded nine runners in the first six innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and leaving two on in the sixth. Newport tied the game in the fifth on a RBI single by Greg Fater that scored teammate Eric Winegarden. Keene hurler Justin Nyweide took the loss, allowing two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings of work.

DIAMOND DUST: The Gulls played in Cranston, R.I. for two seasons before moving to Newport and Cardines Field this summer. ... It was the second straight year Keene and Newport took the championship series to a Game 3. Last season the Bats won 1-0 on a ninth-inning RBI single by Omar Pena. That game was played before 64 fans in Cranston, R.I. ... The champions received the Fay Vincent, Sr. Cup, named in honor of the former Torrington High and Yale University football star from the early part of the 20th century.
Keene             100 000 000 -- 1 8 1
Newport           000 011 00x -- 2 9 3
WP: Kirsten (2-0) SV: Jacobsen (2) LP: Nyweide (1-1)

Game 2: Keene 7, Newport 3
KEENE, N.H., Aug. 5 -- League MVP Shaun Larkin hit two home runs and drove in three RBI to help even the NECBL championship series at 1-1 as the Swamp Bats beat the Newport Gulls, 7-3 Sunday at Alumni Field before 2,561 fans. Hurler Tim Stauffer went the distance on the mound to earn the win, allowing only one earned run. He scattered seven hits and struck out six.

"These guys are fighters," Swamp Bats Head Coach Paul Swingle told the Manchester Union-Leader . "I mean, tonight's win was huge for us. They never give up. I don't want to say that this is typical Swamp Bats fashion, but, to fight from behind, it kind of is."

Kaina Obrey made it 3-3 in the sixth inning on a solo home run to right field. But Larkin responded in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run, shortly followed by a two-run home run from teammate Eric Rico for a 6-3 lead. Chris Westervelt added a solo home run in the eighth.

The Swamp Bats' attendance for the NECBL season hit a record high of 41,558. The Swamp Bats are the first NECBL team to ever eclipse 40,000 fans in a single season.
Newport           200 001 000 --3 7 1
Keene              102 003 01x --7 10 1
WP: Stauffer (1-1) LP: Engle (0-1); HR--NEW: Obrey (1); KEE: Larkin 2 (3); Rico (2); Westervelt (1)

Game 1: Newport 6, Keene 1
NEWPORT, R.I., Aug. 4 -- Righthander Chris Barlow (Le Moyne) led the Gulls to 6-1 victory in game one of the 2001 NECBL championship series at Cardines Field Saturday.

Barlow allowed no earned runs on five hits, struck out six batters, and walked none in 6.1 innings of work for the win. Newport's offense was also unstoppable, especially Eric Winegarden (New Mexico State), who hit 3 for 3, nailed three doubles, drove in one run, and scored one run. A.J. Zickgraf (Georgia Southern) hit well for the Gulls, as he knocked 3 for 4, including a double, batted in one run, and scored two runs in the win. Doug Jackson (Brigham Young) and Eddie Harper (Le Moyne College) both batted 2 for 4 and scored one run. Mike Botelho (Brandeis), who rejoined the Gulls after leaving the team in late June, hit 2 for 3 and tallied two RBIs.

Swamp Bat hurler, Chris Gale (Virginia) yielded six runs on 13 hits, struck out three batters, and walked one in seven innings for the loss. Kevin Melillo (South Carolina) cranked 2 for 3 for the Bats. Myron Leslie (South Florida) smacked 2 for 4 and scored Keene's only run in the fourth inning.
Keene             000 100 000 -- 1 6 2
Newport           000 202 20x -- 6 13 3
WP: Barlow (1-0) LP: Gale (0-1)

Gulls vs. Swamp Bats
For the second straight year, the Gulls and Swamp Bats will battle for the NECBL championship. A year ago, Keene prevailed in a series dominated by outstanding pitching. The Gulls won the opener, 5-3 before Keene won game two, 4-2, behind Gabe Ribas and took the decisive game three on a 1-0 victory. The two teams split the 2001 campaign with each time winning twice on its home field.

Game 1 is tonight in Newport, game 2 is Sunday in Keene and game 3 is Monday in Newport. Coverage of the game is available over the Internet at at

Results from the 2000 NECBL finals
Game 1: Rhode Island  Gulls 5, Keene 3
WP: Raul Moreno (1-0) LP: Chris Flinn (0-1) SV: Jason Gilespie (2)
Game 2: Keene 4, Rhode Island Gulls 2
WP: Gabe Ribas (2-0) LP: Jeff Balzer (1-1) SV: Eric Johnson (2)
Game 3: Keene 1, Rhode Island Gulls 0
WP: Dan August (1-0) LP: Jay Henderson (0-1) SV: Eric Johnson (3)

2001 NECBL finals
Saturday, Aug. 4
Newport 6, Keene 1
Sunday, Aug. 5
Keene 7, Newport 3
Monday, Aug. 6
Newport 2, Keene 1, Gulls win championship, 2-1

Previous NECBL
championship series
1994 -- Eastern Tides def. Bristol Nighthawks, 3-2 (best-of-5)
1995 -- Central Mass Collegians def. Waterbury Barons, 2-0 (best-of-3)
1996 --- Central Mass. def. Danbury Westerners, 2-1 (best-of-3)
1997 -- Middletown Giants def. Torrington Twisters, 2-1 (best-of-3)
1998 -- Middletown def. Torrington, 3-1 (best-of-5)
1999 -- Middletown def. Danbury, 3-1 (best-of-5)
2000 -- Keene Swamp Bats def. Rhode Island Gulls, 2-1 (best-of-3)
2001 -- Newport Gulls def. Keene Swamp Bats, 2-1 (best-of-3)