HOOKSETT - Derek Steckowych hit two home runs and had five RBIs to lead Goffstown to a 9-0 win over Portsmouth in the first game of the best-of-three state Little League finals at Donati Field Saturday.
Conor O'Connell went 3-for-5 with two base hits, a double and an RBI. Clay Campbell had a double and a home run.
"I'm so proud of these kids," said Goffstown coach Mark Campbell. "They worked so hard and so long to get here. All 13 made contributions today."
"We had to make some adjustments (to Portsmouth starting pitcher Timm Kutzer)," said Campbell. "But they did it. They're smart kids."
Kutzer would give up four runs on five hits over five innings.
Portsmouth could only muster four hits. Kutzer had two base hits. Will Fahey hit a double.
"That's OK, we still have two out of three," said Portsmouth coach Kyle Griffin. "Hopefully we got the jitters out of the way."
"Despite giving up 11 hits we had no errors," said Griffin. "If we can play that kind of defense Sunday and get our hitting going we'll be okay."
Portsmouth came in as the team known for strong pitching and defense but it was Goffstown that dominated from the mound, using four pitchers over six innings. Combined they struck out 10 batters and walked three.
Mark Campbell said it was his strategy to use Steckowych, Clay Campbell and Connor Hujsak sparingly so that all three are available to throw in Game Two.
"Only Bobby (Doherty) is unavailable to us," said Campbell. "We have great confidence in our pitching. We still have two or three others who haven't thrown yet."
"He hasn't thrown in three or four games," said Griffin about Doherty, who relieved Steckowych in the second inning. "To have a game like that is incredible."
The game was scoreless until the top of the third when Steckowych drove homer to right with two runners on base. Later Brett Patnode sacrificed Campbell home and Goffstown led 4-0.
Steckowych blasted another homer to right with a runner on off pitcher Jake Boutin to make it 6-0 in the sixth inning.
"They were good fastballs," said Steckowych. "I was practicing all day to be relaxed enough to get a good swing."
Goffstown would add three more runs to make it 9-0. Hujsak would come in to close. The first two Portsmouth batters reached base but Hujsak struck out the next three to finish the game.
Portsmouth's number two pitcher Calvin Hewett entered the game in the sixth but threw only four pitches when a line drive struck the cast on his non-pitching hand. Hewett fractured his wrist a few weeks earlier.
"With the brace he had on it he should be able to play tomorrow," said Griffin. "The impact forced him out of the game. Just precautionary."
Griffin lamented lost chances to score. "We had bases loaded, multiple base runners, we couldn't get them home," said Griffin.
Portsmouth has its back to the wall now, needing to win the next two games, today and Tuesday.
"I hope tomorrow will be a new day for us," said Griffin. "I'm confident it will be."
Earlier in the day Mt. Monadnock of Jaffrey and Rindge came back from 2-0 down and scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning. That was enough to beat Concord 3-2 in Game One of the state 9-and-10-year-old Little League Final.
Game two will be played today at 11 a.m. at Donati FIeld in Hooksett.