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November 16. 2012 9:40PM

Dinner and baseball talk set for tonight in Manchester

THE LIVE AUCTION is always one of the top highlights at the annual Granite State Baseball Dinner, giving fans a chance to bid on an eclectic mix of items, ranging from a Jerry Garcia guitar to a collection of signed baseballs from the 500-homer club.

Big-game Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, who graduated from Trinity High of Manchester and has a home in Bedford, usually generates thousands of dollars with his own bids and donations. And this year, he's taking someone salmon fishing.

The auction at tonight's dinner features a four-day fishing excursion with the Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Series champion. The highest bidder (and a guest) will join Carpenter on a yet-to-be-scheduled trip to Gaspe, Quebec. The package includes travel, lodging, food and much more.

What's it like fishing with Carpenter?

Last winter, on a trip to Brazil, Carpenter and fellow ace Roy Halladay were part of a group that hunted in the rainforest and fished for peacock bass. They returned home with tales of anacondas and alligators. If you're attending tonight's event at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center in Manchester, go ahead and ask Carpenter about the rescue of another fisherman who'd been attacked by an anaconda.

Doors open at 5 p.m. An autograph session from 5-7 is sure to keep everyone busy. The guest list includes Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, former home run champion Cecil Fielder, Pirates lefty Jeff Locke of Conway, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld of Durham and ex-big leaguers Mike LaValliere, Rich Gedman, Bob Stanley, Ron Blomberg and Darrell Evans. Carpenter said he is most anxious to meet LaValliere, a Manchester native and fellow Trinity alumnus.

The head table will also include Yankees minor leaguer Joey Maher of Bedford and Cubs farmhand Brad Zapenas of Nashua. Former New Hampshire Fisher Cats All-Star catcher Brian Jeroloman and 2012 Fisher Cats home run leader Brad Glenn are returning to Manchester for the event, which raises money for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the Ted Williams Foundation, and the Fisher Cats Foundation. The dinner program begins at 7 p.m.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Bedford High senior Andy Lalonde gave a verbal commitment this week to play scholarship baseball for St. Bonaventure of the Atlantic 10, and Nashua North senior Matthew Fortin plans to sign a letter of intent to play for Seton Hall University on Tuesday.

Lalonde, a 6-foot-5 power-hitting catcher, who has drawn interest from several Division I programs in the past year, said he is excited about the baseball program and curriculum at St. Bonaventure.

"There were many factors that went into the decision but the biggest was the level of baseball. I also really liked the campus, and I've heard and read a lot about the school's spirit when it comes to sports," he said.

Lalonde will represent New Hampshire at the 7th annual Power Showcase Home Run Derby and All-World/All-American Baseball Classic at Marlins Park from Dec. 27-30. Last year, he competed in the event at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Diamondbacks.

Fortin, who will serve as the Titans starting catcher for a third straight season, was drawn to Seton Hall for its business management program and caliber of play in the Big East. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder led the Titans in RBIs last season.

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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.

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