NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 9, 2014

Sports in a minute

Dan Guttenplan
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Triton to Taos

Triton Regional High alumnus Joe Katin (Byfield) signed a baseball contract on Dec. 27 with the Taos Blizzards of the Pecos League. Katin is expected to pitch for the New Mexico-based team. Katin captained the baseball and basketball teams at Triton, earning Cape Ann League All-Star status in both sports. He went on to play four years of baseball at Keene State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. The 6-foot, 200-pound righthander pitched for the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer, logging a 2-0 record with two saves. He had a 3.32 ERA in 21 innings, recording 14 strikeouts.

Ferriero called up

Governor’s Academy alumnus Benn Ferriero saw his first NHL action of the 2013-2014 season this week. The forward was called up by the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday after an injury to forward Chris Higgins. He has appeared in two games, averaging 4:30 of ice time per game. The Essex native and former NCAA national champion at Boston College has spent most of the season with the Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate the Utica Comets.

In 32 games with Utica, the 26-year-old right wing ranked second on the team in scoring with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists). Ferriero has played in 98 NHL games over his five-year career with the Sharks, Rangers and Canucks. He has 23 career points (9 goals, 14 assists).

The tie between twins

How’s this for twin sisters being on the same page? In Tuesday’s indoor track meet between Newburyport and Pentucket, the Sachems’ twin sisters, Jennifer and Maddie Nelson, tied for the win in the 300 meters with the exact same time of 48.0. But this wasn’t the typical tie that might occur in a cross-country meet with teammates holding hands through the finish line. Jennifer and Maddie were in separate heats, and they were clocked with the exact same time to the 10th of a second.

Family Affair

A look at the banner in the Pentucket Regional High gym honoring the school’s 1,000-point scorers in basketball shows a fun fact. Of the five players that have reached the scoring milestone, there are two pairs of siblings — school all-time leading scorer Ashley Viselli (1,230) and younger sister Coley Viselli, along with Erin McNamara and boys all-time leader Corey McNamara.

The only exception is the first member of the club, Mike Iola, who reached the mark in 2005. He went on to star at St. Michael’s College. Who is most likely to be the next member of the group? Girls hoops star Kelsi McNamara, Erin and Corey’s little sister.

Betcha didn’t know

Professional wrestling superstar John Cena — from West Newbury — is just two WWE titles away from the all-time record, held by legend Ric Flair. Cena has won 14 world heavyweight titles. If there is any question how seriously wrestling fans take this honor, search for a column on Cena that appeared this week on “Yahoo Sports.”

Pettingell’s mentor

Any Newburyport resident who played baseball under longtime baseball coach Bill Pettingell has certainly heard stories about Walter Hriniak, a former professional baseball player turned hitting instructor who now resides in North Andover. Hriniak preceded Pettingell as a pitcher and shortstop at Natick High, and both players put together careers worthy of induction in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. Later in life, Hriniak became a hitting coach in the major leagues, teaching the Charley Lau swing to his players. Pettingell then passed along the same offensive philosophy to his players in his 40 years as coach at Newburyport High.

Hriniak received a feather in his cap yesterday when one of his former players, Frank Thomas, received election into this year’s induction class for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thomas was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with Billerica native Tom Glavine and Glavine’s longtime teammate with the Atlanta Braves, Greg Maddux.

Hriniak was Thomas’ hitting coach the first six seasons of his career with the Chicago White Sox. Five of those seasons, from 1991 to 1995, Thomas averaged .325, 35 homers and 115 RBIs, while copping two MVP Awards.

“The greatest hitter I ever saw in terms of getting a base hit was Wade Boggs,” said Hriniak. “But the greatest hitter, all-around, for power and average, the first guy I’d pick to start a team with, was Frank Thomas.”

To me, that span (from 1991 to 1995), at the beginning of his career was the best I’d ever been around.”

Frozen Fenway

The Governor’s Academy girls hockey team came away with a scoreless tie in its Frozen Fenway experience, playing St. Paul’s School even through 45 minutes of regulation and a five-minute overtime period. As is often the case in scoreless ties, there’s not much else to report besides the score.

Thursday

ICE HOCKEY: Pentucket at Lynnfield, 7 p.m.

Friday

BOYS HOCKEY: Triton at Masconomet, 7 p.m. (Valley Forum)

BOYS BASKETBALL: Newburyport at Ipswich, 6:30 p.m.; Pentucket at Amesbury, 6:30 p.m.; Triton at Lynnfield, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Ipswich at Newburyport, 7 p.m.; Amesbury at Pentucket, 6:30 p.m.; Lynnfield at Triton, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday

BOYS HOCKEY: Newburyport at Saugus, 7:30 p.m.; Lynnfield at Amesbury, 7:30 p.m. (Haverhill Valley Forum); North Reading at Pentucket, 5 p.m. (Haverhill Veterans Memorial Rink)

GIRLS HOCKEY: Pentucket at Lincoln-Sudbury, 8 p.m.

WRESTLING: Triton at Brookline, 10 a.m.; Pentucket at Beverly, 10 a.m.

INDOOR TRACK: MSTCA State Relays, 9 a.m. (Reggie Lewis Center)