Sports Digest: USM drops Game 1 in Little East baseball championship series


COLLEGES

John Mesagno hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning as Eastern Connecticut State opened the best-of-three Little East Conference baseball championship series Thursday with a 6-2 win over Southern Maine in Mansfield, Connecticut.

Tom Vesosky and Jason Komulainen each hit a solo home run for USM (29-9), which needs a win in Thursday’s second game to force a third game on Saturday.

FOOTBALL

NFL: Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer are together again, this time in the NFL and with Tebow playing a new position.

The former Florida star and 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback signed a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars and will attempt to revive his career as a tight end. The move also reunites two of college football’s most polarizing figures over the past 15 years.

Tebow, 33, is returning to the NFL after five years playing baseball in the New York Mets’ organization, and he’ll be playing for Meyer for the first time since his senior year at Florida in 2009.

TENNIS

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN: Coco Gauff advanced to the semifinals by beating fellow American Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 6-3 in Parma, Italy.

The 17-year-old Gauff, who last week reached the Italian Open semifinals for her career-best result on clay, will next face Czech player Katerina Siniakova, who beat eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-1.

Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens also reached the semifinals by beating Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-0. Stephens will face either second-seeded Petra Martić or sixth-seeded Qiang Wang.

BNP PARIBAS OPEN: The tournament in the Southern California desert will return this fall after it was knocked out of its usual March dates this year and last because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-week tournament featuring the men’s and women’s pro tours will be held in October at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Tournament director Tommy Haas said dates will be announced after the ATP and WTA tours confirm their fall schedules, expected sometime in June.

SOCCER

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: FIFA announced the dates for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with the tournament to be played between July 20-Aug. 20.

That puts the tournament start around six weeks later than the previous two editions in Canada and France. The 2019 final won by the United States was played on July 7. The 2023 final on Aug. 20 will be played in Sydney.

TRACK AND FIELD

OLYMPICS: Two-time Olympic 800-meter champion David Rudisha will not defend his title at the Tokyo Games. Rudisha’s agent, Michel Boeting, told The Associated Press that Tokyo was “out of the question” for Rudisha because of a persistent hamstring problem.

The Olympics are set to open on July 23 and the 800 heats start July 31.

“He is just contemplating his next step, whether it’s retirement or to continue training,” Boeting said in a telephone interview.

Now 32, Rudisha has not run at the international level since the 2017 season, and the current injury is linked to chronic inflammation of his sitting bone, Boeting said. Rudisha set the world record of 1 minute, 40.91 seconds when he won gold at the 2012 London Olympics. No one has since come within a second of that time.

CYCLING

TOUR D’ITALIA: Italian cyclist Andrea Vendrame held off the rest of the breakaway pack to win the 12th stage in Bagno di Romagna, Italy, for his first victory in a Grand Tour, while Egan Bernal kept the leader’s pink jersey.

Vendrame, who rides for AG2R Citroën, edged out Chris Hamilton in a sprint at the end of the 212-kilometer (132-mile) route from Siena to Bagno di Romagna that featured four categorized climbs. There was also a sprint for third, with Gianluca Brambilla narrowly beating George Bennett. The duo finished 15 seconds behind Vendrame.

All four had been part of a large breakaway. Bernal crossed the line in the peloton to maintain his 45-second lead over Aleksandr Vlasov. Nobody else is within a minute of the 2019 Tour de France winner, with third-place Damiano Caruso 1:12 behind.

Friday’s 13th stage is an entirely flat 198-kilometer (123-mile) route from Ravenna to Verona that pays tribute to writer and philosopher Dante Alighieri on the 700th anniversary of his death. It will also give the riders a break before hitting the high mountains the following day.

AUTO RACING

INDYCAR: IndyCar announced a contract extension with NTT at its title sponsor, a move that solves one of the looming financial questions facing Roger Penske in his second year as owner of the series. NTT is a global technology giant that became title sponsor of the IndyCar Series in 2019. The company has since extended the agreement and become the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard weekend.

“Over the first two years as entitlement sponsor of the series, the dedicated team at NTT has helped IndyCar become more efficient and effective through smart technologies,” said Penske, who became owner of IMS and IndyCar in January, 2020. “As our sport continues to grow by connecting with a new generation of fans, NTT helps take us down new roads by creating more engaging experiences through our shared digital platforms.”

Next on Penske’s to-do list is ironing out a new television contract. The current deal with NBC Sports is in its final season.

FORMULA ONE: Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc clocked the fastest time on his home circuit during the second practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix. Leclerc is from Monaco and grew up in a flat overlooking the sinewy 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) circuit that snakes around the picturesque principality.

He had a best lap of 1 minute, 11.68 seconds and led his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. by 0.11 seconds. World champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was third, 0.39 behind Leclerc. The last Ferrari driver to win in Monaco was Sebastian Vettel four years ago, but Hamilton was impressed by what he saw in the two sessions.

“The Ferraris look really strong, surprising to see them improving so much but that’s great,” Hamilton said. “It means more competition. We’ve got some work to do.”

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was fourth fastest and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was fifth.


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