GOFFSTOWN — Will anyone be able to beat Goffstown High School in this year's Division II baseball tournament? If so, who?
Goffstown wrapped up its regular-season schedule by defeating Merrimack Valley of Penacook 7-3 Wednesday. The Grizzlies improved their record to 17-1 and will be seeded No. 1 when the Division II tournament begins Thursday.
Portsmouth will be the tournament's No. 2 seed, and Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley said there's a sizable gap in talent between Goffstown and his team.
"I think they're the clear favorite," Hopley said. "Their lineup is a lot deeper than ours."
Depth in the batting order appears to be Goffstown's No. 1 strength. The Grizzlies, who entered Wednesday's game hitting .350 as a team, have scored at least 10 runs in nine of their 18 games. Catcher Adam Routhier, Goffstown's cleanup hitter, hit a two-run home run in a five-run fourth inning Wednesday.
"Offense is our strong point — definitely," Routhier said. "If we're at our best it's going to take a good team to come get us, but anyone can have a bad day. If that happens anyone could beat us at any time."
Goffstown has plenty of pitching as well. Senior Tyler Barss (5-0) is the team's ace, and is headed to pitch for the University of Rhode Island. Sophomore Tanner Putnam (6-0) and junior Tyler Perron (3-0) could also see significant time on the mound in the postseason.
The Grizzlies had a team ERA of 1.40 before Wednesday's victory.
"They're the No. 1 seed for a reason," said Merrimack Valley coach Sean Wheeler, whose team dropped to 10-6. "There's pretty much no breaks (in their lineup), but there's some pitchers in the state who can throw to them. The kid from Hanover (Joe Cravero) is dynamite, we have (David) Drouin, who is dynamite, and the kid from Pembroke (Autrey Gates) is awesome. All those kids are legitimate No. 1 pitchers who can shut anybody down."
The good news for other Division II teams is this: Pembroke Academy beat Goffstown 6-4 during the regular season and didn't need Gates on the mound to do it. Shaun St. Onge started and collected the win that day.
"We're nervous," Goffstown coach Adam Lawrence said. "Like I told them at practice: We're the No. 1 seed, but when the tournament starts no one cares. You can always run into that good pitcher."