OXFORD, Maine – DJ Shaw and the No. 60 Precision JLM Racing team have had a successful 2014 season, one of Shaw's best to date. One race missing from his resume however, is the prestigious Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
This year, Shaw's team went into the race hoping to bounce back from a disappointing night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway two weeks ago when they had a shock go bad. In the end, Shaw played his pit strategy to be in position for the win late, but couldn't hold off the teams with fresher tires at the end and ended up with a 12th place effort in the 44 car field.
"We just fought the handle on the car all day for some reason," Shaw said of the day, "We made our pit stop early to get on a different strategy as the front runners and it almost worked for us, we were there at the end and that's all we can really ask for, my team did a great job all day and I'm proud of the effort."
The day started off on the wrong foot for Shaw, as he drew to start last in the first heat race of the day. With close to 70 Super Late Models trying for just 44 spots in the field, it was hard enough just to make it into the race. After driving his way through the field in the 20-lap heat race, Shaw wound up fifth, just one spot from the transfer spot.
He took advantage of that finish in the consolation race though, as he drove from the pole position to the win, giving him the 25th starting spot for the 250 lap feature event.
At the start of the race, Shaw fought his way through the field, making steady progress early on. The field had racing all around the track, and sometimes had to be forced into three wide racing. Shaw found himself just outside the top ten 100 laps into the race, but he had to be up on the wheel to keep from going a lap down with the fast pace the leaders were running.
At lap 125, a caution came out for a wreck on the front stretch, giving Shaw and the team the break they were looking for as the came in for their pit stop earlier than most of the leaders. After the caution, Shaw drove his way up into the top five and at lap 187, the leaders came in for their pit stop under yellow, giving Shaw second place with just over 50 laps to go in the race.
After battling with Cassius Clark for the lead, the two began to drive away from the field, but another caution late in the race let the drivers with fresher tires catch back up. Between running on older tires and fighting a tight race car, Shaw fell back to finish in the 12th position.
The next race for the Pro All Stars Series North will be back in a few weeks on August 5, when they travel north of the border once again for the "Budweiser 150" at Autodrome Chaudiere. Shaw won the first race of the Chaudiere Triple Crown, and will be looking to get back on track with a win again during this special Tuesday night event.
Learn more about DJ Shaw and the Precision JLM team on Facebook at the Precision JLM Racing page, on Twitter @djshaw60 and on the web at DJShaw60.com.
CONWAY — The Pittsburgh Pirates came from behind for the third time in as many games and beat Colorado, 5-3, Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen's RBI single in the seventh was the difference, and it was actually the earliest of the Pirates' three game-winning hits in the series.
The Pirates fell in a three-run hole early as starter Jeff Locke was hurt by the long ball, but erased the deficit by the seventh.
All three of the Pirates' wins coming out of the All-Star break followed the same recipe: Get a serviceable outing from their starter, eventually chase the Rockies' starter and then get some clutch hits against the bullpen.
Locke called the outing — his first since July 11 — "pretty sloppy" and was hard on himself because he said he knew it could have been better.
"You try to execute pitches, and sure you might throw 85 or 100 pitches on the day," Locke said. "Not all of them are going to go where you want, but you sure as hell would like to have most of them go that way. ...You just try to convince yourself 'That's it' and be a little sharper," Locke said of his turnaround. "We're never out of it."
After a rough early start that included home runs in the first and second frames, Locke settled down with four shutout innings. He struck out the side in the fourth, all on change-ups, which is his new go-to off-speed offering. He recorded another quality start, allowing three runs over six inning. He walked two and struck out three.
He allowed four hits, all singles, the rest of the way and let the Rockies put a runner in scoring position only once.
"The runs come in early and kind of put the team and you in a bad spot," Locke said. "You come to the dugout after you get through it all and everybody says, 'Hey, that's all they're going to get. We're going to score some runs here and win the game,' and that's just kind of the mentality we've all been carrying on."
The Pirates (52-46) are in third place behind the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central. six games above .500, tying a season-best position.
Locke is 2-1 on the season in eight starts. This season, he has pitched 62 innings; allowed 56 hits; 21 earned runs; 5 home runs; walked 8; and struck out 38 while holding opponents to a .243 batting average. His ERA is 3.05. He has eight starts of pitching six innings or more and with an ERA if 3.05, Locke leads the Pirates' starting pitchers in that category.
Locke's next scheduled start is slated to come on Saturday (8:10 p.m.) when the Pirates (52-46) travel to the Colorado Rockies (40-58). He'll be opposed by Tyler Matzek (1-4. 4.91 ERA) again.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune Review contributed to this story.
By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Jeff Locke will look to continue rolling when he takes to the mound Friday for next scheduled start, weather-permitting.
Locke and Pittburgh Pirates (47-44) are in Cincinnati against the Reds (49-42) Friday at 7:10 p.m.. Locke will be opposed by Matt Latos (2-1, 2.41 ERA).
The Pirates had dropped three in a row heading into Thursday's night's series opener against the Reds after begin swept by the Cardinals in St. Louis.
The 2006 Kennett High graduate turned in his seventh straight quality start Sunday in a 6-2 home victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Locke bested his close friend and former teammate right-hander AJ Burnett. Burnett took the talented left-hander under his wing serving as a mentor of sorts.
Locke worked eight solid innings, allowing one earned run while scattering just three hits while walking one and striking out five.
The son of Alan and Pam Locke said it was different ball game in the sense he was facing a friend, a friend who he spent the off-season with at his home four-wheeling.
"It didn't even feel like we were playing a Major League baseball game," Locke said. "We spoke really briefly before we got in the bullpen, just told each other to have fun today, go get 'em. Pound down."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has one word for Locke's performance — "fantastic."
Sunday he threw 100 pitches (70 for strikes) over eight innings. Fifteen of Locke's outs came on the ground, and he had just one walk. His effectiveness allowed him to pitch eight innings for his second straight start and third time this year. He didn't pitch into the eighth inning once last season.
The one walk Locke issued was to Burnett to start the third, a plate appearance Locke is sure to hear about in the future. "We've got to let him feel it in(side)," Locke joked. "If that's the only walk of the day, we'll take it."
Locke improved to 2-1 on the season in eight starts. This season, he has pitched 49 2/3 innings; allowed 40 hits; 17 earned runs; 3 home runs; walked 6; and struck out 30 while holding opponents to a .222 batting average. His ERA is 3.08, but has gone down in each subsequent start. He has a 2.23 ERA in six starts since joining the Pirates rotation in June.
BARTLETT — Local triathlete Meghan Skidmore has been named USA All American ranking in the top 10 percent of her age group and securing an invitation to the US National Triathlon Championships, which Skidmore has already qualified for in all of the triathlons so far this season.
Skidmore has competed in six New England triathlons this season and placed in the women's top five of every race and on the podium in all but two. In her toughest race she finished fifth for the women at the New England Season Opener in Hopkinton, Mass. Over 400 racers competed in this triathlon which was host to many collegiate teams.
She finished first at the local Camp Huckins Triathlon and had a strong second place female finish and ninth overall at the White Mountain Olympic distance triathlon. Skidmore typically races the sprint distance, and she's excited to master the transition to Olympic distance racing. This was her first Olympic distance race and with nothing for comparison raced without expectations to the amazing second place finish.
Skidmore competed in the 2013 World Triathlon Championships in London last October and turned in an outstanding performance, finishing as the first American in her age group. Competing in her first international race was an experience of a lifetime; one she will always treasure. Skidmore's success at last year's World Championships has inspired and motivated her to continue her International racing journey. With an invitation to the 2014 US National Championships in place, the road to the 2015 World Championships is on the horizon. Skidmore will need to finish in the top 18 of her age group at the US Nationals in Milwaukee, to again qualify for the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago, in the fall of 2015.
Dedicated training, superior coaching, continued support from family, friends and her community is what it takes for her to compete at a high level. Precise and intense structured training by Coach Steve Vosburgh, a local hillclimb racer, avid hiker, accomplished cross country skier and all-around great guy, will remain key to Skidmore's success on this journey.
Vosburgh's technical race knowledge and attention to Skidmore's athletic physiology has her performance reaching higher levels at each competition.
At the US Nationals next month, Skidmore will compete in both the Olympic and Sprint distance Championships on back-to-back days.
Sprint distance Triathlon racing is usually a half mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run; Olympic distance Triathlon racing is .9 mile swim, 24 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run.
Coach Vosburgh and her support team have confidence in her ability to succeed in both competitions. You can follow Meghan's journey and view her 2014 race schedule in her blog found at www.skidmoreracing.blogspot.com or visit the new Team Skidmore website at www.megskidmore.wix.com/team-skidmore.
Skidmore would like to thank last year's major sponsors; Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, The Mt. Washington Auto Road, Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, Smith & Town Printers, Gorham Family Dentistry and The Seasons Resort, the local communities that have supported her efforts, and friends and family for all their support and encouragement, all of which contributed to her success in London.
Team Skidmore will continue to welcome donations and sponsorship for the 2014 race season and US National Championships. If interested in supporting this local athlete please contact Manager, Regina Ferreira at 915-6665 or mail donations to Team Skidmore, 339 Randolph Hill Road, Randolph, N.H. 03593.
CONWAY — Baseball can be a cruel game. Many have heard that before, but on Sunday, Jeff Locke experienced it.
Recalled from Triple-A for an emergency start that could turn into rotation tenure for the Pittsburgh Pirates before 35,001 fans, Locke pitched extremely well against Milwaukee. Just well enough to have his heart broken, in fact. The Brewers, behind a fan interference aided run in the seventh inning, topped the Bucs 1-0.
Locke scattered three hits over seven innings being extremely economical wit his pitch count — just 75 pitches. He struck out five and walked just one — Rickie Weeks in the fifth inning, who he picked off trying to steal second.
"Outstanding. Outstanding," Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said of the talented left-hander from Redstone. "His fastball command was spot-on. He kept shoving it in there for strikes, sometimes off the plate to get them to move. That's the young man we saw in the first half of the season last year."
Eight times in his first 18 starts of last season, Locke went six innings or longer and allowed three hits or fewer on his way to be named to the National League All Star team.
Locke, the lone two-time New Hampshire Player of the Year, started off 17 of his 24 batters with first-pitch strikes. Through the first six, innings he held the heavy-handed Brewers to two infield hits.
The Brewers broke the scoreless deadlock in the top of the seventh inning. Jonathan Lucroy led off by yanking a soft liner down the left-field line that even he didn't think would stay fair — explaining why the Brewers catcher stopped running halfway to first.
"He thought it was going foul," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said following the game. "He probably lost the ball when he looked up and didn't see where it was coming down the line."
Not only did the ball land fair, a few inches inside the line, left-fielder Starling Marte was beaten by a fan who reached over the railing to scoop up the ball with two hands. Lucroy was awarded second on a ground-rule double, citing fan interference.
"If he didn't do that, it's a base hit. Lucroy wouldn't go to second base," Marte said. "He's a slow guy and I don't think it's a double."
That was all the opening the Brewers needed — Lucroy made it to third, barely, on Carlos Gomez's line-out to center fielder Andrew McCutchen, then scored as Aramis Ramirez was badly fooled on a changeup and squibbed a grounder to first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
"Funny how it goes like that," said Locke. "I pitched a lot of games here where nobody's been fooled at all. You don't have to hit it very hard — just hit it in the right spot."
Locke, who was called up to take Gerrit Cole's spot in the rotation as he was placed on the disabled list earlier in the day with a sore shoulder, allowed six runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings against San Francisco in his only other start in the Majors this season on May 5.
"He gave us everything we could have asked for him to give us today," manager Clint Hurdle said. "And more."
Locke said he benefited from being "on the same page" with catcher Russell Martin.
"I think that always helps," he said. "We kind of picked up where we left off before. Wasn't a lot of dialogue between him and I even before the game ... moved the ball around a little bit and that's what can happen when two people are on the same page. ...We just knew I was going to pitch my game. He just put down the right fingers and moved the ball around a little bit."
"I think it's confidence," Locke added. "You've always got to find a way to not let that teeter."
Locke, 26, is slated to make his next start for the Pirates (29-33) this Friday (7:10 p.m.) in Miami against the Marlins (33-30). He'll be opposed by Nathan Eovaldi (4-2 with a 3.27 ERA).
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Pirates contributed to this story.