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Roger Brown's The State of Sports: Don't sleep on Concord in state Legion tournament

July 16. 2017 11:25PM

The senior American Legion state tournament begins Friday at Gill Stadium. The obvious question entering the tournament is this one: Is any team good enough to prevent Rochester’s Post 7 from winning a third consecutive state title?

Post 7, the top seed from District B, has won three of the last four state championships, and will enter this week’s tourney as the clear favorite. AAU baseball may be king during the summer in many places, but Rochester isn’t one of them.

Four teams from District A and four from District B will qualify for the double-elimination tournament, which is scheduled to wrap up next Tuesday.

If you value pitching depth and defense — and who doesn’t? — then Concord appears to be the team that’s best-equipped to get between Rochester and its third straight title. Post 21 finished 13-3 in District A even though its pitching was stretched thin by a demanding schedule that jammed the team’s final 11 games into eight days.

“It was kind of crazy with the amount of games we had in a short period of time,” Post 21 coach Matt Skoby said. “The guys have done a good job of throwing strikes, not walking guys and going deep into games.

“Kind of the running joke around the state is that it’s Rochester and everyone else. “I haven’t seen them play, but everyone tells me how impressive they are.”

Post 21 also has three varsity starting shortstops in its infield: Chapin Bassi (St. Paul’s School) starts at short, Concord shortstop Zach Miles is playing second base and Bow shortstop Connor Blandini is starting at third.

Skoby said he put a premium on pitching depth during tryouts, and the team’s best arms have been lefties Noah Wachter (Concord) and Brendan Winch (Bow), and righty Brian Nylen (Merrimack Valley).

Wachter, who plays the outfield when he’s not on the mound, is also hitting over .400.

“I think we have the talent to make some noise,” Skoby said. I think we certainly have the pitching to do it.”

So let’s go with Concord over Rochester in the tournament’s championship game.

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ALTHOUGH he spent 27 years as the men’s ice hockey coach at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., Joe Marsh is very much a New Hampshire guy.

Marsh, who was recently named the interim women’s ice hockey coach at Dartmouth, graduated from both Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of New Hampshire. He began his college career at Boston College, but transferred to UNH following his freshman year. That’s when he took on his first coaching job.

NCAA rules required Marsh to sit out one season following his transfer from BC, so he spent a good part of that winter as a volunteer assistant coach at Phillips Exeter. When Marsh graduated from UNH in 1976, he was hired as an assistant coach on Mike McShane’s staff at the New Hampton School.

McShane, who is currently the head coach at Norwich, also played at UNH. When he was hired as St. Lawrence’s head coach in 1981, McShane brought in Marsh as an assistant. Marsh was promoted to St. Lawrence’s head coach in 1986 when McShane left to become the head coach at Providence.

Marsh, who is known for his quick wit, was one of the most well-liked coaches in Division I during his time at St. Lawrence, where he posted a 482-418-75 record. He came out of retirement to coach the Dartmouth women after Dartmouth head coach Laura Schuler was selected to guide the 2018 Canadian Women’s Olympic Team.

Marsh won the Spencer Penrose Award as the Division I Coach of the Year in 1989 and 2000.

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SOME know Alex Wood only as the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who has an 11-0 record, a 1.56 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 86.2 innings this season. Others may know him better as a former member of the Keene Swamp Bats pitching staff.

Wood was considered the ace of the Keene staff in 2010, when he went 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA. He made eight starts that season, which ranked second among New England Collegiate Baseball League pitchers. His 36 strikeouts were 14th in the league.

Wood was one of two former NECBL players who were selected to the National League pitching staff for this year’s All-Star Game. Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, who pitched for the NECBL’s Torrington Twisters in 2007, is the other.

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FORMER Merrimack High School catcher Mickey Gasper is having a productive summer with the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps. Gasper, who will be a senior at Bryant University in the fall, entered Sunday’s game against Harwich ranked 14th in the league in batting average (.317), tied for fifth in home runs (four) and tied for second in RBIs (23).

Gasper hit .342 (66 for 193) with 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and led the Northeast Conference with 53 RBIs during his junior season at Bryant. He became the first non-senior to be named the NEC Player of the Year since 2009.

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