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Jun. 2—Hamilton-Wenham senior Shane Metternick has a great hook.

He might also be the only pitcher in the state for whom you have to ask whether the hook means a traditional 12-to-6 curveball or a defensive swipe of his polo mallet.

It’s been a great spring so far for Metternick, who split the month of May between the Cape Ann League Baker-leading Generals baseball squad and the varsity interscholastic polo team at Myopia Hunt in Hamilton. The Myopia squad qualified for the US Polo Association’s Open National Interscholastic Championship in Virginia and wound up finishing third in the country.

“It was a very fun experience,” said Metternick. “We met so many new, friendly people who love the sport. Meeting people from all over the country who were friendly and you were also very competitive with was awesome.”

The national competition featured indoor polo matches, so there were three riders per side. Outdoor competitions are typically 4-on-4 with more open action; the indoor game tends have more contact between players and more defensive strategy. The locals, which included Metternick, Rehan Kumble, Augie Grotnik, James Grayken and Landen Daniels, made the field of seven as a wild card after finishing second at their regional competition.

“We knew we were underdogs, so we just tried to give it everything we had,” Metternick said. “Placing third out of the entire US and Canada is pretty impressive.”

Ipswich’s Grotnik, one of Metternick’s closest friends, had been begging him to try polo for several years when he finally agreed to do so three years ago. At the time he’d never even ridden a horse, so the process of learning not just the rules of polo but how to communicate with and care for the animal took some time.

“Riding felt very natural,” said Metternick, who played JV polo for a year before making Myopia’s competitive interscholastic team, which plays squads from all over the Northeast region. “Polo is different from any other sport you can imagine. It’s almost like hockey on horses.”

Metternick took to it immediately, though, and he’ll be riding on the intercollegiate polo team at Southern Methodist University in Texas next year.

Before that, he and his Generals baseball teammates have some unfinished business.

Losing a legit shot at a Division 4 state title to the pandemic last spring stung, and Hamilton-Wenham is 8-2 this spring. The Generals have a three-headed pitching monster with Ryan Hutchinson, Luke McClintock and Metternick sharing the load. Closer Carter Coffey is also phenomenal and the team has a combined 1.06 earned run average with 75 strikeouts in 66 innings (10.22 per nine).

“You always know someone behind you is going to have your back,” said Metternick, who struck out seven in a win over Ipswich last Wednesday. “As seniors, we’re treating every game like it’s our last.”

Having a stable of great arms also meant H-W didn’t have to worry when Metternick had to miss a week of baseball to compete in the polo nationals.

“I couldn’t even be mad at him,” H-W coach Reggie Maidment said with a laugh. “Going to polo nationals is a once in a lifetime thing and it’s really cool. We were all rooting for him and proud of him.”

Matt Botelho has also thrown out of the bullpen for the Generals, who’ve done a great job of limiting walks this spring. Hutchinson, who’s off to D1 Quinnipiac next year, and McClintock, who’ll throw for D3 powerhouse Babson, and Metternick give H-W what has to be the best 1-2-3 punch in Division 4.

“They all throw hard and all throw a little bit differently,” said Maidment. “The best thing about them is they’re all unselfish. You look at their innings and they’re almost exactly even … there’s no egos, they work together and make each other better.”


It was great to see Pingree win three of its last four games to wrap up their 2021 season. Certainly no team on the North Shore played as challenging a schedule as the Highlanders, who faced the top team in New England (and No. 20 nationally) Phillips Andover three times, Dexter Southfield (No. 2 in New England) twice, and had a half dozen games against Phillips Exeter and Worcester Academy.

“For a couple weeks it felt like everyone we faced was throwing in the high 80s and low 90s,” Highlanders coach Luke Wamboldt said. “We faced some really loaded lineups with high level college commits and some MLB draft prospects. We were up front with the team about how difficult the schedule would be, given who was opening up to play when we decided to go ahead with spring seasons.”

The Highlanders had some very competitive, close calls with some of these powerhouses. Drew Botta held Andover two runs through six, the squad had some back-and-forth slugfests with Dexter and took Exeter to the late innings. Most of the games were a case of the smaller school running out of gas.

“We had six 9th and 10th graders in the lineup against veteran teams and post-graduates. Most of the pitchers they faced were they best they’ve ever see, high school or summer, and taking those at-bats really helped their confidence and development moving forward,” said Wamboldt.

Senior Caleb Clark hit .340 while leading the team in runs (9) and RBI (12). Fellow Owen Cootey put together an ERA of 3.36 over 20 innings. “They were great leading up, keeping everybody positive and high-energy, and just buying into the challenge of facing these teams,” Wamboldt said.

Jaylon Richardson also enjoyed a breakout campaign, hitting .409 with nine steals and an on-base percentage of .509.

Once the Eastern Independent League opens competition again next year and the NEPSAC tournaments return, its clear this year’s experiences will have the Highlanders in contention.

There were some groans from the fans at Bezemes Diamond last week when Peabody junior Justin Powers threw over to first base to check on Marblehead’s Godot Gaskins a dozen times when Gaskins led off the first inning with a single.

The chess match between the pitcher, base runner and both coaching staffs was fascinating, however.

Powers is a right-hander, typically an easier pickoff move to read than a lefty. Eventually, he threw over with Gaskins a bit too far from the bag and the Tanners got the Northeastern Conference’s leader in steals out via a 1-3-4 pickle. Marblehead, however, rallied to win, 11-5.

“Everybody knows Gaskins is going to run. So our hope was to get him to run when we wanted him to run, not when he wanted to,” Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt said. “Justin worked really hard it before the game. He didn’t give in to him and did a great job holding runners all day.”

Heading into Tuesday’s game, Gaskins was hitting .353 with an on-base percentage of .450 and 12 steals while being caught only twice. Every more impressive? He’s a left-handed bat who turns out of the box with ridiculous speed.

Don’t miss the annual ALS Awareness game being played at St. John’s Prep at Frates Diamond on Thursday. The Eagles are hosting rival BC High and will be donning their alternate ‘Frates’ uniforms in honor of the late Pete Frates, alum and world renowned Lou Gehrig’s disease advocate.

This year’s special ALS Awareness jerseys are all red with blue block letters spelling out PREP on the front and the Eagle with blue names and numbers on the back. The Eagles have had a different design for their ALS Awareness threads every year since 2013.

Salem High may not have a boys hockey team, but three of their pitchers impersonated the Bruins’ ‘Perfection Line’ last week when they combined for seven consecutive innings of perfect pitching.

Senior Bobby Jellison retired six Salem Academy batters in a row last Wednesday and Sebastian Cruz finished off that four-inning game with six up and six down. The next day, senior Ethan Doyle retired the first nine Peabody batters he faced in an eventual complete game, 12-strikeout victory.

All together, it was 21-up and 21-down in seven perfect innings over two games for the Witch trio.

Unconventional? Yes. A true “perfect game”? Not quite.

But any string of 21 batters without anybody reaching base at any level is worth noting.

Around the Horn, a column on North Shore high school baseball, appears in The Salem News each Wednesday during the spring. Contact Matt Williams at and follow along on Twitter @MattWilliams_SN #StrikeOutALS