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Exeter responds well, blasts Lancers

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 23. 2018 10:52PM
Londonderry's Nate Sullivan save an infield popup after it almosst got away from him during Monday's game against Exeter in Londonderry. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



LONDONDERRY — We won’t know for sure until the season is complete, but last week’s loss to Concord may have benefited the Exeter High School baseball team.

The Blue Hawks have a roster loaded with future college players, many of whom played for the Exeter team that went unbeaten en route to the Division I championship last season. Exeter was the consensus pick to win this year’s title as well.

Exeter has responded well to the Concord loss. The Blue Hawks have played two games since then: They hammered Londonderry 14-0 in five innings Monday, two days after Bobby Cliche threw a no-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Haverhill, Mass.

“In terms of the loss, yeah, it’s probably the best thing that happened to them,” Londonderry coach Brent Demas said. “Ending that (22-game) winning streak? It took off a lot of pressure, It had to. They’re good players, sure, but they’re high school kids. I think in the long run that’s probably going to be very beneficial for them.”

Exeter coach Kevin McQueen said he wasn’t sure a loss was needed for his team to sharpen its focus.

“I don’t think we would have prepared any differently Saturday or today had we won Wednesday (against Concord),” McQueen said. “Might we look back on it in two months and say it kind of sent us on our way a little bit? You can always say that, but that’s to be determined.

“Like we said last year, and it’s our same approach now, you don’t try to win them all, you try to win each one. And there’s a significant difference in doing that. It’s a different mindset.”

Exeter (3-1) pounced on Londonderry early. It was 6-0 after one inning and 9-0 after two. Exeter collected 10 hits and drew 12 walks against four Londonderry pitchers.

“It’s hard to be positive about this one,” Demas said. “We’re putting guys on, and putting guys on. That wears on the defense. I think that’s one of our biggest issues. We have to shore up some things position-wise, but we’ll be all right.”

Exeter received a three-run double from Rob Wirtanen, who made his first varsity start behind the plate. Cliche, who started at second base, had three singles, and first baseman Tom Polhemus collected two hits.

The Blue Hawks added a run in the third and finished the scoring with four runs in the fourth, when McQueen sent seven pinch-hitters to the plate.

Ethan Imbimbo limited the Lancers (2-5) to two hits in four innings before Harrison Lendrum struck out the side in the fifth. It was Lendrum’s first varsity inning on the mound.

Nate Sullivan had both Londonderry hits. Jake Bolduc walked twice and stole a base for the Lancers, who have scored eight runs in their five losses.

Exeter hasn’t allowed a run in its three victories, and has outscored its opponents 33-0 in those three games.

“We like this group and we think we have a chance to do some good things, but it’s a work in progress,” McQueen said. “We have to keep getting better every day.”

rbrown@unionleader.com


High schools Sports Baseball Londonderry Exeter