Dover in charge at NH Legion state tournament
NASHUA - There may not have been a clear-cut favorite when the American Legion state tournament began earlier this week, but there's one now.
Dover improved its tournament record to 3-0 by beating Hudson 7-5 in a winners' bracket game Saturday at Holman Stadium, and is the only unbeaten left among the four remaining teams.
"I think they've proven themselves as a team that's capable of winning this tournament," Hudson coach Scott Szuksta said. "They're certainly in the best position."
Dover had what seemed to be a comfortable 7-1 lead after seven innings, but Hudson scored two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. Hudson had two runners on base when Dover reliever Ryan Cordeiro got Conner Whittemore to ground into a fielder's choice for the game's final out.
"Out here with 307 (feet) in left field, one good ball and they're back in the game and we're in extra innings," Dover coach Jake Bishop said.
Most of the players on Dover's roster spent the spring playing for Dover High School, which earned the top seed for the Division I tournament. Dover also has players from Oyster River High School in Durham, Somersworth High School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover.
Pitching depth is Dover's strength, and that was on display Saturday. Kevin Gould (St. Thomas) pitched into the eighth to pick up the win.
"We have lots of arms," Bishop said. "I probably don't use them as often as I should. We still have two starters that we haven't used. We're right where we want to be in terms of pitching."
Dover did most of its damage in the fourth, when it sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times. The inning was highlighted by two-run singles from Jordan Goss and Jared Gagne. J.T. Bishop also had a run-producing single in the inning.
Center fielder Aaron Dennis and catcher Connor Rittenhouse each had three hits for Dover, which led 5-1 after four and added to its lead by scoring a run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
Kellin Bail, Dakota Williams and Jackson Musco each had two hits for Hudson, which also received a two-run double from Greg Emanuelson. The loss dropped Hudson's record to 2-1.
Dover collected 15 hits against three Hudson pitchers.
"I liked them in this tournament because of the pitching they have, but they hit the ball real well today," Szuksta said. "They don't even have to win tomorrow. They really only have to win one more game."
Manchester's Sweeney Post beat Lebanon 11-4, and Derry defeated Rochester 10-8 in Saturday's other games. The starting times for today's games were changed to avoid a possible thunderstorm. Sweeney will face Hudson at 1 p.m.; and Derry will play Dover at 4 p.m.Derry 10, Rochester 8: Chace Spears was hitless in his first four at-bats Saturday, but he made the most of his fifth trip to the plate.
Spears hit a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to help Derry defeat Rochester 10-8 in the day's second game.
"These kids are playing awesome right now," Derry coach Dylan Mullen said. "Chase has been consistent (at the plate). It seems of late he's come up with guys on base and been able to get them in. It's a testament to him that he was able to shake off his previous at-bats when he didn't get a hit and focus on the here and now and try to get the job done."
It was 8-8 until Spears drove a Nick Ciampa pitch to the wall in left field that scored Riley Cahill and Jamie Collins.
"I was kind of nervous at first that they were going to throw me curveballs because I'm not really a strong hitter when it comes to curveballs," Spears said. "When it started coming in fast I just sat right on it and waited for it. It came right in my slot and I just hammered it."
Rochester, last year's state champion, put two runners on base in the ninth, but Matt Tritto pitched out of trouble to earn the win. Tritto pitched 2? scoreless innings of relief.
Cahill, Jamie Collins and Chris Gerossie each had three hits for Derry, which improved to 2-1. Gerossie's hits included a two-run home run. He had five RBIs in the game.
Rochester trailed 8-6, but pulled even by scoring twice in the seventh. Michael Bell's two-out single plus a two-base error allowed Logan Larochelle and Ben Gravel to score and tie the contest.
Third baseman Andrew Langdon had three hits for Rochester, which received two hits from Justin Jewell, Josh Gagne and Bellio.
The loss eliminated Rochester, which finished with a 1-2 record. Rochester beat Derry twice during the regular season.Sweeney 11, Lebanon 4: Center fielder Nolan Flynn collected four hits and starting pitcher Kevin Gonzales tossed eight innings to help Sweeney improve its tournament record to 2-1.
Gonzales, shortstop Brendan Sullivan and left fielder Peter Abood each had two hits for Sweeney, which scored four runs in the first inning and led 11-4 after six. Gonzales also drove in four runs.
"Gonzales gave us a gutsy effort," Sweeney Post coach Dave Flurey said. "He worked out of some jams and made big pitches when he had to. We needed an effort like that today if we wanted to give ourselves a chance."
Sweeney was shut out by Hudson in its first tournament game, but scored 22 runs in its two victories.
Third baseman Ben Robinson had three hits for Lebanon, which finished with a 1-2 record in the tournament.
Flurey said left-hander Ryan Boldwin, out of Trinity of Manchester, will likely start on the mound today.
"He's a gamer and he wants the ball," Flurey said. "Not everyone has their full complement of innings, but everyone's available. We'll do whatever we can to win."