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NHIAA Baseball: Generals stage uprising

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 23. 2018 11:55PM
John Stark starter Brett Patnode got a no-decision in the Generals' comeback win over Bow on Wednesday in Bow. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Bow starting pitcher Connor Blandini went six shutout innings against John Stark at Bow High School on Wednesday, but ran into trouble in the seventh. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

BOW — The John Stark High of Weare baseball team went sleepwalking through six innings of its regular-season finale with Bow on Wednesday. The Generals trailed by four runs and had mustered just three hits by the time they stepped up for their final turn at bat in the top of the seventh.

Last call proved to be a wake-up call for John Stark, which spouted off for five runs in the seventh to stun Bow 5-4. Noah Greene dropped a two-run single into center field to cap the unforeseen burst by the Generals (13-3), who used two hits, three walks and an error in all to overcome the Falcons (10-6).

The win assures John Stark the No. 3 or 4 seed in the Division II tournament, which starts next week. Bow’s final seeding hinges on other results this week, but the Falcons are still in line to host a first-round playoff game.

“That was so needed from this team,” Generals coach Dennis Pelletier said. “We were not getting clutch hits (in other games) and really just hadn’t been hitting well. Most of our practices we spend just hitting now because the other parts of our game are really strong now. But today, our big hitters finally gave us those big hits.”

The first four batters reached for John Stark in the seventh before a Bow throwing error on a Jake Cole grounder, which had potential to be a game-ending double-play, forced in two runs to make it 4-3. Greene finished things when he ripped the first pitch he saw into center field to score Ben Stogner and Cole, who Pelletier did not hesitate to wheel home with just one out and a chance at a lead.

“I was looking for a first-pitch fastball and got it,” Greene said. “We knew we had it in us. We’re a good hitting team, but we’ve been unlucky and hadn’t been put the ball in play when we needed to.”

According to Pelletier, the surge of emotion and urgency the Generals showed in their late rally is not a common trait for the club.

“We have a lot of laid-back kids,” Pelletier said. “They’re great kids that are awesome players and good students, but they live on that flat line. It finally kicked with them today and it’s a good time for it to happen.”

Greene finished with two hits and two RBIs to pace the John Stark while Stogner added an RBI with his bases-loaded walk in the seventh. Steve Guerrette picked up three hits, an RBI and a run scored to lead Bow, which also got a pair of hits from Levi McAllister.

The Falcons had starter Connor Blandini cruise through six shutout innings before hitting a wall in the seventh as he allowed a leadoff single and two walks before being relieved. Bow coach Ben Forbes commended Blandini, who only recently started pitching for Bow last week due to a lack of arms, while chalking the seventh-inning collapse up to a little bit of everything.

“It starts with having to bring in a reliever with the bases loaded and no outs, which is never fun,” said Forbes, who noted the Generals pulled off a similar comeback win last season over the Falcons. “They hit the ball hard there a couple times and we have some miscommunication there to let a few runs score. All of it just puts a lot of pressure on young pitchers to go out and shut guys down.”

Bow’s three-run fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead looked to be just the start of momentum toward more offense in the next inning. John Stark reliever Nate Isabelle had other ideas though. The righty, who played while recovering from a sinus infection that kept him out for the Generals last week, earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief.

“He comes into pitch for us and really doesn’t blow anyone away,” Pelletier said. “But his curveball is such a different speed than his fastball. That difference makes that fastball look a lot faster than it is coming at you. He’s effective and it was gutsy.”

NHIAA Bow Weare