Exeter gets jump, blanks JutrasBy ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 27. 2017 7:30PM
MANCHESTER - A couple of two-run innings and a stellar outing from Josh Morissette led Exeter Post 32 to a 4-0 triumph over Jutras Post 43 in the Junior American Legion state tournament Thursday at Gill Stadium.
Exeter will play Nashua Post 124 today at 2:30 p.m. in a winners' bracket Jutras will play Portsmouth Post 6 today at 9 a.m. in a losers' bracket game. The other losers' bracket game, at 11:30 a.m., pits Dover against the loser of Thursday night's Alton-Newmarket game. The other winners' bracket game, at 5 p.m., features Lebanon against the Alton-Newmarket winner.
Nashua defeated Portsmouth, 8-2, and Lebanon Post 22 beat Dover Post 8, 4-3 in 10 innings, Thursday morning.
Morissette stymied Jutras' bats, tossing a five-hitter. The right-hander never allowed more than one hit in an inning. He walked two batters and struck out three.
Exeter, District B's No. 4 seed, took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first inning. Rob Wirtanen's RBI single to right center field opened the game's scoring. Exeter built a two-run lead when John Hawkins scored from third base on a wild pitch by Jutras starting pitcher Connor Erickson.
Jutras came in as the top seed in District A.
“We knew coming in that Jutras was a good ball team,” Morissette said. “But when we scored two runs in the first inning, it helped us gain some momentum. And when we shut them down early, we knew we could play with them and we could potentially win this game, which we ended up doing.”
Exeter doubled its advantage by grabbing two more runs in the sixth inning. Exeter had runners on first and second base after one-out singles from Morissette and Ryan Huppe. Ethan Tanguay drove in Morissette on a one-out double and got caught stretching. While Jutras was busy tagging Tanguay out, Huppe crossed home plate to make it 4-0 Exeter.
“Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good,” Exeter coach Tom Lamy said.
Huppe and Ryan Smith both recorded two hits for Exeter.
Jutras had a prime opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Cam Tomko led off the frame with a single and Colbe Moul drew a full-count walk to give Jutras runners on first and second base with nobody out. After Nathan Clegg popped out and Nick Von Breeden flew out, Tomko got caught trying to steal third to end the inning.
“That probably killed (Jutras) a little bit,” Morissette said. “Because they were up all game. They were loud and it seemed like after that inning, they got quieter and quieter as the innings went on.”
Connor Hall recorded Jutras' lone extra-base hit in the fifth inning when he hit a one-out double to right field. Jutras stranded Hall at second, however.
Hall, Moul and Von Breeden each tallied one hit for Jutras. Tomko logged two singles.
“I was happy with the way we hit the ball. We just hit it right at them,” Jutras coach Pete Bissonette said.
Erickson allowed three earned runs on seven hits and no walks over a complete-game effort. The righty struck out three batters, two of which he caught looking.
Morissette said competing in the winners' bracket will benefit Exeter's pitching staff and give the team a better shot at winning the state title.
“It's tough coming out of the losers' bracket,” Morissette said. “Playing in the winners' bracket, we don't have to use a lot more of our pitching and I guess we have a good chance of winning now.