The Northern Massachusetts/Southern New Hampshire Baseball community lost one of it's most valuable members on Tuesday with the early morning passing of Harry Ayotte at age 77. Ayotte, who hailed from Chelmsford, Mass., was extremely well known in the Lowell area as he was a long time Assistant Coach at Chelmsford High School. He was also a former Coach of the Chelmsford Merchants and was the current owner and operator of the semi-pro team.
Ayotte also made his mark operating the Mill City All-Americans of the New England Collegiate Baseball League from 2000 to present. This past fall the team moved to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Ayotte, who became ill last spring, was recently honored by the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association as one of their 2010 Assistant Coaches of the Year for his longtime work with the Chelmsford High School club. He was known for his gentle manner and sharp baseball mind that is well known throughout the state of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
"Harry was as kind and friendly as they come. On or off the field he was a tremendous human being. Many of my current players played under him during their high school days and he will not be soon forgotten," said Bobby Gibbons, current manager of the Chelmsford Merchants Baseball team.
The Merchants will wear a patch on the sleeve of their uniforms this summer in honor of Harry and all he's done for the team.
Ray Roman (Lowell, MA/Lowell) will suit up this summer for the Chelmsford Merchants...Speedy shortstop expected to add spark to the top of the lineup...Played last summer in the Arizona Collegiate League for the Trojans...Has played the past two years at Northern Essex CC in Haverhill, MA...Was a 2nd Team All Region XXI in 2010 for the Knights...Ended season with a .400 avg going 34-85 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR, 35 R, 23 RBI, and a remarkable 31 stolen bases.
Younger brother Anyelo Roman (Lowell, MA/Lowell) will also begin his first year as a Merchant...Will be used in the starting rotation and at third or first base...Strong bat that will be used in the middle of the lineup...Has played past two seasons at Northern Essex CC...One time NJCAA National Player of the Week.
Mike Chartier, a Sophomore RHP from Northern Essex CC will suit up for his first year as a Merchant this summer. The 6-1 righty from Tewksbury, MA has played under Coach Gibbons for the past two years at NECC and will continue his career at Suffolk University next year. Chartier was recently named NJCAA National Pitcher of the Week (March 23, 2011). After a complete game shutout against #5 Frederick CC picking up 5 K's, he also got the save against Division I opponent Anne Arundel CC going 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit and 1 K.
Syed Ali (Dracut, MA) will join the Chelmsford Merchants this summer and will hope to fill a spot in the rotation. The 5-11 right handed pitcher is currently a junior at Daniel Webster College in Nashua and spent two previous years at Northern Essex CC playing 1 year under Coach Gibbons.The Dracut-native will bring depth and experience to the mound both as a starter and out of the pen.
Dylan Katz-Wicks (Concord, MA/Concord-Carlisle) will join the Merchants in the 2011 summer. Currently a sophomore at Union College in Schnectady, NY, Katz-Wicks was a DCL All-Star and Boston Globe All-Star at Concord-Carlisle High School. In his freshman campaign at Union, he was named a 2010 Liberty League Honorable Mention selection.
Katz-Wicks led the Dutchmen in average (.369), hits (48), runs scored (24), and RBIs (23). Entering the final week of play, he was in reach of finishing the season above .400 with a .396. For the season, Katz-Wicks, who led the team with 11 multi-hit games, batted .733 with runners on third base and .465 with runners in scoring position. He was a two-time Liberty League Rookie of the Week.
Ross Julian (Groton, MA/The Groton School) will join the Chelmsford Merchants for the 2011 summer. The C/SS is currently a senior at the Groton School in Groton, MA and has committed to play at Division 1 Brown University of the prestigious Ivy-League.
The Chelmsford Merchants recently completed the 2010 season with a final record of 18-16. They came up short in the quarter finals of the playoffs losing to the Westford Willows 2 games to 1 in the best of 3 format. In game 1, Vince Lehman (Groton, MA/New Haven) got the hard-luck loss in a 1-0 game where the offense struggled to score. Game 2 was a different story, however, as fire-baller Isaac Burkett (Hudson, NH/Rivier) led the Merchants to a 3-1 win with a complete game victory giving up only 1 run with 7 strikeouts. The final game of the series was another 1-0 loss with Derek Cotoni (Chelmsford, MA/Bridgeport University) going 6 strong innings giving up just the 1 run with 6 strikeouts. "I think the biggest thing was our lack of offense. We didn't hit and score runs when we needed them most," added Coach Gibbons, "Our pitchers did everything they were supposed to do but our bats just didn't show up."
The season overall was another winning season for the Merchants, they're third winning season in a row. They finished the regular season with 35 points, giving them fifth place in a very competitive league. "We won a ton of close games and beat the teams we should have. They were a great bunch of guys who got along and worked hard" Gibbons said.
The Merchants had the luxury of a great pitching staff that included Isaac Burkett (former Independant pitcher from the Nashua Pride/American Defenders), Vince Lehman (4 year starter at University of New Haven), Derek Cotoni (4 year starter at Bridgeport University), Adam Keenan (Sophomore, Franklin Pierce), Cory Joliceour (Junior, Merrimack), Ronnie Wallace (Sophomore, UMass), and Joe Johnson (SNHU). "We had a very experienced staff, I believe one of the best in the CNEBA." The team ERA finished 2.02 with 257 K's in 239 IP.
The offense was led by Mike DeCoste (Chelmsford, MA/Bentley) and Zac Roy (Lowell, MA/UMass Lowell). DeCoste led the team in AVG (.351), Hits (32), RBI (26), runs (18), and triples (5). Roy had a great first year with the Merchants finishing with 24 hits, 17 runs, 10 rbi, 13 BB, and a team high 9 stolen bases.
Looking forward to next summer Gibbons noted, "I think with the players we have coming back and the experience they'll get during their college season will help us a ton next year." "We will return the pitching staff and add key position players that will make us tough to beat."
As the college regular season comes to an end, a handful of Merchants will get the opportunity to play in the NCAA Regional Tournament, hoping for a bid to the College World Series.
Eric Laliberte, Wheaton College
The junior infielder helped Wheaton to their 10th NEWMAC title with a 23 - 4 victory over fifth season Coast Guard at Sidell Stadium. The Lyons earned an automatic bid into their ninth NCAA Tournament. The NCAA regional tournament begins on May 19th hosted by Eastern Connecticut State @ Eastern Baseball Stadium.
Vince Lehman, University of New Haven
The senior RHP helped lead the University of New Haven baseball team with an at-large bid in the 2010 NCAA Division II East Region Championship, making its first NCAA postseason appearance since 2006 and its 32nd overall appearance. The third seeded Chargers will take on fourth seeded Stonehill College in the opening round of the tournament. Action begins Thursday, May 13 hosted by Southern Conn State at Yale Field.
Adam Keenan, Franklin Pierce University
Freshman LHP Adam Keenan helped the No. 25/26 nationally ranked Franklin Pierce University baseball team to an at-large bid to the NCAA Baseball Championship East Regional. The Ravens will play as the second seed which will be hosted by top seed Southern Connecticut State at historic Yale Field in West Haven, Conn. Franklin Pierce will open play on Thursday at 3 p.m. against fifth-seeded C.W. Post.
Waldis Garcia (Johnson & Wales University) was recently named to the All-Conference 2nd team by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. The outfielder from Lowell, MA had a breakout year ending the season 4th in the GNAC with 46 hits and 1st in the conference with 17 steals. The 5-10 senior also ended the season with 2 homeruns. Garcia will return this summer with the Merchants.
Former Merchant Ryan O'Connor was a 1st team All-Conference select capping his senior season with a .427 AVG, fifth best in the conference.
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