BASEBALL

Brady Afthim of Windham High School was named as the Gatorade Maine Baseball Player of the Year for 2020-21 on Tuesday.

The 6-foot 185-pound senior right hander and catcher had a 3-2 record with an 0.67 ERA, striking out 94 and walking four in 41 2/3 innings. He also hit .473 with three home runs, scoring 17 runs with an OPS of 1.288 this spring.

The award, which recognizes one winner in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, also acknowledged Afthim carried a B average in the classroom.

Afthim signed a national letter of Intent to play at the University of Connecticut this fall.

DOUBLE-A: LJ Talley capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats beat the Portland Sea Dogs 10-9 at Manchester, New Hampshire.

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Portland scored twice in the top of the 10th on RBI singles by  Devlin Granberg and Pedro Castellanos, who was 4 for 5.

New Hampshire got its first run in the 10th on an RBI single by Chris Bec. The Fisher Cats tied the game when Otto Lopez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Hudson Potts was 3 for 5 with a homer and three RBI for the Sea Dogs in the first of a six-game series with New Hampshire.

CYCLING

TOUR DE FRANCE: Riders staged a protest at the start of Tuesday’s stage to complain about perceived dangerous racing conditions after a flurry of crashes reignited the issue of road safety. Having left the town of Redon in the western Brittany region to start Stage 4, the peloton rode at a moderate pace and all riders got off their bikes after about one kilometer. They waited silently for about a minute before hitting the road again.

After the crash-filled Stage 3, several riders have criticized race organizers for setting up what they considered a dangerous finale to a Tour stage, especially in the early days of the race when nervousness is at its highest level.

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Former world champion Philippe Gilbert said in a video that riders’ representatives asked for the Stage 3 timings to end with five kilometers left. The goal by the majority of riders was to avoid a risky final sprint in narrow and winding roads leading to the finish line.

“We had analyzed the route and saw that the finale was extremely dangerous,” said Gilbert, a Belgian classic specialist. Gilbert said that race organizer ASO supported the proposal. “But the UCI (cycling’s governing body) commissaires did not accept the request, it was rejected in the morning at the start of the race,” he said.

Gilbert said a pileup on a downhill curve about three kilometers from the finish was a direct consequence.

Thierry Gouvenou, who is in charge of the Tour route, told L’Equipe newspaper about the increasing challenges he faces to find finish sites without dangerous road materials.

“There are no longer any medium-sized towns without a small island, roundabout or narrowing,” he said. “Ten years ago, there were 1,100 dangerous points on the Tour de France. This year, there are 2,300. If the level of demand becomes too great, there will be no more finishes. That’s where we are.”

Gilbert did not put all the blame on the route on the UCI, though, saying the teams that scouted it before the race should have let know organizers about its dangers.

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• Veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish sat on the road and cried Tuesday after posting a 31st stage win in the Tour de France on his return to cycling’s biggest race following a three-year absence.

Cavendish was not expected to be among the eight riders selected by Deceuninck-Quick Step for the Tour but was a last-minute inclusion in the squad following Sam Bennett’s withdrawal. Cavendish powered to victory in a mass sprint at the end of the fourth stage in the western Brittany region. He edged Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni and Jasper Philipsen of Belgium.

The 36-year-old Cavendish is second on the all-time list for the most stage wins behind Belgian great Eddy Merckx on 34. Cavendish’s previous stage win dated back to 2016. Cavendish has struggled in recent years, even taking a break from cycling after being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus for the second time in 2018. He has enjoyed a resurgence this season, with five stage wins after returning to Deceuninck-Quick Step for the 2021 season.

Bennett was forced to withdraw because of a right knee injury. Mathieu van der Poel kept the race leader’s yellow jersey ahead of Wednesday’s first time trial.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO TORCH RELAY: Some stages of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay will be pulled off the roads of the Japanese capital because of fears about spreading the coronavirus, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday. Citing the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Kyodo said the relay would not appear on public streets from July 9-16. Kyodo said organizers would decide on the format for the relay from July 17 until the opening ceremony on July 23.

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The relay began in March in northeastern Japan. It has faced numerous detours, scaled back programs, and has been run at times only in public park spaces to avoid spreading the virus.

Tokyo is under a quasi-state of emergency until July 11 with infection cases rising again. Tokyo confirmed 476 new cases on Tuesday, up from 435 last Tuesday. It the 10th straight day that cases were higher than they were seven days previously. Japan has attributed about 14,500 deaths to COVID-19, better than many countries but not as good as some Asian neighbors.

It’s not clear what the alternative plans will be for the torch if it is removed from public streets in Tokyo. Initial plans called for 10,000 runners to crisscross Japan for 121 days, winding up at the new National Stadium on July 23.

• Top-ranked Ash Barty is set to lead Australia’s 11-member tennis team at the Tokyo Olympics. The Australian squad was announced Tuesday, hours before Barty’s scheduled first-round match at Wimbledon against Carla Suárez Navarro.

Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur was selected to play singles and doubles in her fifth Olympics, while Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and John Millman were among the men selected for the Australian team.

SOCCER

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OFFICER SENTENCED FOR PLAYER’S DEATH: A British police officer was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for the killing of Dalian Atkinson, a former professional soccer player who died after being Tasered and kicked in the head. Benjamin Monk was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after jurors heard he left bootlace imprints on Atkinson’s forehead.

Monk, 43, claimed he acted in lawful self-defense as officers tried to subdue former Aston Villa star Atkinson, 48, during an altercation in August 2016. Police were called to Atkinson’s home in Telford, central England after neighbors reported disturbances. Monk told the court he had been afraid for his life after Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made threats and smashed a glass door pane.

Prosecutors said Monk used a stun gun for 33 seconds against Atkinson – more than six times longer than was standard — and kicked the soccer player at least twice in the head. Atkinson died in the hospital around an hour after the incident.

BASKETBALL: Courtney Williams scored 18 points, including a go-ahead basket with 58.2 seconds left, and the Atlanta Dream beat the visiting New York Liberty, 73-69.

Williams gave Atlanta a 71-69 lead on a baseline jumper. Betnijah Laney had multiple chances at the other end for New York, but Crystal Bradford blocked her second attempt.

Chennedy Carter made 1 of 2 free throws with 18.4 seconds left to give Atlanta a three-point lead. Sami Whitcomb was off on a 3-pointer and Williams sealed it with a free throw.

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• Jonquel Jones scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in her return from the EuroBasket tournament, and the visiting Connecticut Sun beat the short-handed Washington Mystics, 90-71.

Jones, who recently got back from Spain, had to pass multiple COVID-19 tests before playing. She got going early, collecting a double-double in the first half with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Jasmine Thomas made a career-high seven 3-pointers and scored 21 points, and Brionna Jones added 14 points and nine rebounds for Connecticut.

Washington only had six healthy players available.


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