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NHIAA Baseball: Lancers' Pirolli twirls a gem

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 16. 2018 10:01PM

Londonderry pitcher Anthony Pirolli had a strong outing against Central at Londonderry High School on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

LONDONDERRY — Londonderry High baseball’s Anthony Pirolli was regarded as one of the top pitchers coming into the 2018 season. The problem for the lefty and the Lancers was he had yet to live up to the dominant reputation he developed last spring.

Wednesday changed Pirolli’s 2018 narrative as he reverted to form in a big 2-1 win over Manchester Central. Pirolli turned in his best outing of the season, scattering five hits and one run while striking out eight in his complete-game victory for Londonderry (7-8).

The senior worked out of two big jams, including stranding the tying run on third in the seventh inning with consecutive fly outs to end the game.

“My motto this year has been that confidence is really the key factor,” Pirolli said. “Whether there’s somebody on or the bases are empty, you have to throw strikes and let them do the work for you. Good things happen when you throw them.”

Central (4-10) scored its lone run on a Nate Goonan sacrifice fly in the seventh before Pirolli shut the door with the final two outs. The final out was a loud one as Brendan Lewis socked a laser that Lancers center fielder Rick Perry sniffed out to seal the win.

“I got excited when I first saw it off the bat,” Central coach Kevin O’Leary said. “I then look and ask myself ‘Who plays that shallow in center field?’ (Londonderry coach Brent Demas) said he had to pull him in because he didn’t have a book on Brendan. But we’re talking maybe like 5 or 10 feet to either side and we have a tie game, but it worked out for them.”

Pirolli thwarted Central several times, forcing the Little Green to strand nine on base. The biggest escape job for Pirolli beyond the seventh came in the third, where Central left the bases loaded.

“It comes down to tunnel vision with my catcher there,” said Pirolli of working out of jams. “Jake Dingman has been great blocking balls all year and I have confidence in him. It allows me to throw the ball, try to hit my corners and see what happens.”

Pirolli’s effort came while Central starter Declan Knieriem limited the Lancers to just three hits. Londonderry found its way around Knieriem by working on the bases. Rick Perry stole consecutive bases in the third inning to set up Reece Manor’s RBI single that put Londonderry up 1-0. The Lancers tacked on their other run in the fourth when Anthony Ferraro scored on a throwing error he forced while stealing third base.

“We’ve been emphasizing running since the Pinkerton game (a 9-0 loss on May 5),” Demas said. “We’ve really hit a corner and haven’t looked back. ... We’ve been playing well at the right time and it just feels like it’s going to keep building.”

The Lancers are surging with four wins in their last five games following a 3-7 start. The recent success has been crucial to Londonderry’s playoff hopes as it would sneak into the 13-team Division I tournament field if the playoffs began today. Demas expects his team will be playing postseason ball and hopes to earn better seeding as the regular season closes next week.

“Tom Fowler, the old Keene coach, used to say the season is broke into two parts,” Demas said. “The first half is where you figure things out and the second half is when you get ready for the playoffs. It’s the way we’ve been going and with five games left to continue this trend, I think we’re going to be looking pretty good for the tournament.”

NHIAA Londonderry Manchester