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Exeter hit by rising Tide

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 18. 2018 10:34PM

EXETER — Signature wins aren’t typically something you’ll find early in a new season. However, the Concord High baseball dug up quite the momentum-builder on Wednesday.

The Crimson Tide did something no team had done since June of 2016 as they rallied to knock off Exeter 6-5. A five-run fifth inning and one more tally in the sixth helped Concord (4-1) end Exeter’s 22-game winning streak, which carried over from last year’s 21-0 championship season.

“We just talked about competing, but especially with a lot of at-bats left,” Concord coach said Scott Owen. The Crimson Tide were down 5-0 before tying and had just five base runners over the first four innings. “It’s easy to say it, but it’s never easy to act it out. We didn’t quit. We just kept plugging away and hitting is contagious.”

The bats came alive in a big way in the fifth for Concord, which batted around in the inning while collecting seven hits. Zach Miles, Kurt Stadnicki and Eric Sullivan each clubbed an RBI single before Griffin Gilbert, Concord’s starting pitcher, roped a game-tying two-run double. Exeter starter Cody Morissette was coming off his second 1-2-3 inning of the day when Gilbert and the Crimson Tide turned the tables.

“We just tried to see as many pitches as we could,” Gilbert said. “We were fouling things off and trying to find our pitch to hit hard somewhere. (Morissette) really is a great pitcher and tough to hit, but we had to do something about it.”

The good times continued for Concord in the sixth, where it plated the winning run on a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Pinch runner Adam Morrissey scooted home on the ball to the backstop with two outs after the Crimson Tide loaded the bases with a single and two walks.

“Sometimes it comes back to something small like that,” Exeter coach Kevin McQueen said. “We like our guys and see a nice year in front of us. This one stings a little bit today but hey, we play again tomorrow.”

Miles, Stadnicki, Sullivan and Alex Buteau each finished with two hits for Concord. Ben Malgeri’s three-run triple in the second inning was one of just three hits by the Blue Hawks (1-1).

Gilbert, who joins Morissette as one of the elite pitchers in Division I, surrendered three hits and four walks in the first two innings to spot Exeter its 5-0 lead. The senior righty came around to hurl three-plus innings of one-hit ball and give the Crimson Tide a chance to rally.

“I really just had to compete more,” said Gilbert of his turnaround. “I started to trust my stuff more and hit my spots better. Their lineup No. 1-9 is phenomenal and you really can’t miss a pitch out there against them.”

Gilbert gave way to reliever Sean McDonough after walking the lead-off man in the sixth. The junior reliever tallied the final six outs with a change of pace from Gilbert’s overpowering arsenal and a couple of sparkling catches from Adrian Kennedy and John Taranovich.

“You put kids in certain situations during this part of the year to learn who can handle them,” said Owen of McDonough. “He kept us in the BG game last Friday and did a job competing here for us. His ball moves a lot and if he’s throwing strikes then he’s good because they can’t square any of that up.”

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