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NHIAA D-I Baseball: Cliche's pitching helps Blue Hawks to second straight title

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 11. 2018 8:33PM
Exeter pitcher Bobby Cliche throws to a Bedford batter during the NHIAA Baseball Championship game at Northeast Deltal Dental Stadium in Manchester Monday. Exeter won 6-2. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — The Exeter High baseball team is a state champion once again. However, Blue Hawks took care of business with a lot more comfort than they did a year ago.

Four runs over the first two innings and another solid performance from starter Bobby Cliche helped the second-seeded Blue Hawks repeat as Division I champions with a 6-2 win over top-seeded Bedford at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Exeter (20-3) became the first back-to-back Division I title holder since Keene in 1996 and 1997.

“I can’t say enough how good it is to get a lead,” Exeter coach Kevin McQueen said. “You get a lead and it really changes the landscape, even early on. ... We left a couple guys out there that would’ve allowed us to breathe even a little bit easier, but it was what it was.”

The hot start for Exeter proved to be the big difference as the Blue Hawks jumped on Bedford ace Geoff Mosseau, who needed 53 pitches to get through two innings and lasted just 2⅔ innings. Exeter scored three times in its first turn with Cody Morissette’s RBI triple, Tom Polhemus’ RBI single and an RBI groundout from Cliche.

Morissette added an RBI single in the second inning to make it 4-0 Exeter, which appeared to have a plan against Mosseau after seeing him during the regular season with Bedford.

“We came out with a good approach against him and really wanted to make a statement in the first couple innings,” Morissette said. “It was an unbelievable performance by each and every one of our hitters. I’m so happy for our guys right now. We earned it this year.”

Morissette capped his day with a second RBI triple in the sixth while Garret Roberts brought Colin Jackson home in the seventh on a sacrifice bunt to finish Exeter’s scoring. Morissette’s three hits paced the Blue Hawks while Polhemus finished with two hits.

Bedford (21-2) dug up a run in the fourth and sixth innings, but the Bulldogs managed just three hits against Cliche, who earned the complete-game win. The righty, who was coming off a complete-game triumph in the semifinals, allowed five balls out of the infield while having his way with Bedford’s lineup. Cliche struck out six and walked three while establishing the edge of the plate from start to finish.

“I definitely used it to my advantage,” said Cliche of getting the the outside calls. The righty’s first three punchouts came on called third strikes. “The umps are giving you a place where most batters don’t like to go hit, so you’re going to keep going after that spot. I had to use that.”

Peyton Murray’s RBI single was the highlight among Bedford’s offense, but otherwise Cliche was in control. The senior held Bedford’s top five hitters to just one hit while Bedford slugger Grant Lavigne went hitless.

“That’s nothing short of a miracle,” said McQueen of holding down Lavigne. “There were some quality at-bats there ... but we were fortunate to have him come up at times where no one was on. Having him come up in a situation like that makes a big difference.”

NHIAA Bedford Exeter