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March 03. 2012 11:18PM

Kevin Gray's On Baseball: A Red Sox game to remember for NH players


Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine poses with four Northeastern players hailing from New Hampshire. Pictured, from left to right, are Keegan Taylor of Portsmouth, Sean Lyons of Bedford, Connor Lyons of Bedford, Valentine and Josh Treff of Salem. (Kevin Littlefield)

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Years from now, Connor and Sean Lyons can return to JetBlue Park with their grandkids and talk about a home run over the the right-field bullpen, a soaring, wind-boring blast toward the palm trees.

That was Sean's swing, and, for the record, it was during batting practice. Connor quickly pointed out how Sean has one fewer hit on the season. The Bedford brothers, who played at Trinity High of Manchester, cherished every moment of the inaugural game at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

When the Huskies first walked onto the field, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez were taking relatively easy swings in the batting cage. 6-foot-2 Gonzalez was viewed as larger than life while posing for a photo with Connor.

“It's really unbelievable just seeing these guys and being in front of them. You don't know what to think at first. You're and you're excited at the same time,” Connor said. “I can't believe how far and hard these guys hit the ball with such little effort. It looks like they are just barely swinging, and they're hitting the ball 400 feet.”

In the second inning, Northeastern second baseman Pete Castoldi singled up the middle against Jon Lester, practically doing the southpaw a favor. Lester worked from the stretch for the first time in 2012 (live game) and kept a close eye on Castoli, who eventually attempted to steal. Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a high throw to Jose Iglesias, who made a successful swipe tag. In bottom of the inning, Cody Ross hammered a 1-2 pitch for a solo shot over the Green Monster, the first in-game homer at JetBlue Park.

The lineup card was a keeper, with both Connor and Jacoby Ellsbury starting at center field at Fenway South. In the second inning, Connor retired Ellsbury with a running catch and throw home as Boston upped the score to 4-0.

Connor, who led Huskies with a .356 average last season, saw two pitches against righty Justin Germano in the third inning. The sophomore ripped a liner at Germano, who knocked it down and threw to first base. Sean, also an outfielder, pitched two scoreless innings at Jacksonville last weekend.

Video: Northeastern vs. Red Sox; Connor Lyons and Adrian Gonzalez


“They're both integral parts of the program. It's nice when you can have a backup outfielder (Sean) come in and throw two no-hit innings of relief,” Northeastern coach Neil McPhee. “They are very, very key parts of this program.”

The Huskies practiced at nearby Lee County Field on Friday and bused to JetBlue Park in time to watch the Red Sox finish up infield practice. Game time temperature was 84 degrees.

In the fifth inning, Sean jogged out to center field, replacing his brother. He was tested. Will Middlebrooks ripped a 400-foot bomb over Sean's head and off the wall in center field, giving the Red Sox a 19-0 lead.

At least Sean can he's been in Jacoby Ellsbury's shoes this season.

“Today is the one day we get to take off and have fun and play like we're kids again,” Sean said. “They're our idols, and it's awesome to play against them and watch them play for a day.”

In the fifth, Sean batted against righty Michael Bowden, taking a monster hack on a fastball, and eventually striking out on a pitch in the dirt.

NU freshman Keegan Taylor, who went 25-0 on the mound for Portsmouth High, is scheduled for elbow surgery after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament during the Huskies' final preseason scrimmage.

“In the first inning, I felt a pop on one of the pitches. Come to find out, I tore my UCL,” said Taylor, who helped lead Portsmouth to a national record of 84 straight wins.

Freshman catcher Josh Treff of Salem entered in the sixth inning, working behind the dish for righty Matthew Goreham. Treff did not bat but made a difficult catch in foul territory, retiring Darnell McDonald.

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CHANGE OF PLANS: Salem High graduate Terry Doyle, a member of Minnesota's 40-man roster, was expected to pitch in today's game against the Red Sox, but the Twins made a switch following Saturday workouts in Fort Myers. Doyle instead is heading to Port Charlotte to make an appearance against the Rays. Why the last-minute change? Doyle wasn't sure. Perhaps more veteran pitchers are staying in Fort Myers to play the Red Sox, while other less-established players take a 45-minute bus ride to Port Charlotte.

Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is kgray@unionleader.com. Read his blog at graymatter11.com.


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