For 25 years, Boston’s North End and sister city North Adams have held the annual LaFesta Baseball Exchange Tournament. The teams celebrated the anniversary on Saturday night at Puopolo Park as part of this year’s exchange. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presented co-founder George Canales with a plaque dedicating “George Canales Way.” Co-founders Joe Sgarano and John Fiumara from the North End threw out ceremonial first pitches along with fellow co-founders John Lipa and Tony Abuisi from North Adams. State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz participated in the ceremonies with John Romano running the show as North End Athletic Association coordinator.
Last weekend as part of the LaFesta exchange, the NEAA Dodgers 15u team travelled to North Adams Massachusetts to take on the North Adams 15u All-Stars for a two game series. The following weekend North Adams travelled to the North End and two games were played at Puopolo Park during North End Pride Sunday.
The 4 games were battles with each team having great pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. North Adams got the better of the Dodgers when they were on their home turf. After the two game set a MVP from each team was selected. The North End MVP was Kyle Bernardini who went 5 for 7 at the plate and also threw 5 innings in game two while letting up only 2 earned runs. Evan Reynolds also had a big weekend in North Adams crushing the ball all weekend and making fine plays behind the plate. Coaches Ricky Martignetti and Dom DiCenso did a great job of keeping their team focused in the 90 degree heat and ensuring that good sportsmanship was the rule of the weekend.
The second weekend was played at Puopolo Park and once again there was two great games. In game one, North Adams pushed across two runs in the 7th to pick up a 3-1 victory. JC Pezzuto threw three strong innings for the North End and Nico Alex and DJ Dicenso had big hits. In game two Colman Shea went the distance throwing 7 sparkling innings and picking off the tying run at third base to end the game and give the North End a 5-4 victory. Nico Alex, Vincent Coppola, Richard Pagliuca and DJ Dicenso all had big hits to help the North End get their 5 runs. Jake Valeri made a couple of fine catches in left field to snuff out North Adams rallies and Kyle Bernardini was rock solid at 3rd all game. Once again the coaching staff was at the top of their game helping to give the Dodgers the best chance at a victory.
North Adams teams now hold an unofficial 53-38 lead in the series. The 26th year of the LaFesta Exchange will take place in 2016 at the end of July and the beginning of August. We look forward to more fine baseball and building more lifelong friendships.
Photos by Phil Orlandella.