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Roger Brown's State of Sports: Astros-Lancers the first big game of the season

September 16. 2018 8:15PM

WITH three weeks in the books, things are starting to take shape on the NHIAA football landscape. This weekend will provide us with our first big game of the season when Pinkerton Academy visits Londonderry on Friday night. At least it’s the first contest that fits our description of a big game.

In addition to being fierce rivals — get there early folks — the Astros and Lancers are two of the best teams in the state. Pinkerton (3-0), which beat Exeter 17-7 Friday night, will undoubtedly remain the No. 1 team when the Union Leader Power Poll is released Tuesday, and Londonderry (3-0) was tied with Manchester Central for the fourth spot in the poll before it defeated Timberlane 44-14 Friday.

The Pinkerton-Londonderry winner will be the only unbeaten team remaining in Division I South, which appears to be the deepest of the four Division I conferences. The loser could be one of three teams in the conference with one loss, since Salem and Windham are both currently 2-1. At least one of those teams, and possibly two, will not be invited to the playoffs, so yeah, this game carries a lot of meaning.

There are some other unique storylines attached to this game as well.

• It’s part of Mack Plaque weekend, the annual athletic contest between fall sports teams from Londonderry and Pinkerton. The Astros have won the Mack Plaque in each of the last 16 years.

• Friday night will also be the first time former Londonderry head coach Jon Rich has faced his former team as a Pinkerton coach. Rich, who was an assistant coach at Salem last year, joined Brian O’Reilly’s staff in the offseason.

It’s been a long time since anyone saw a Londonderry team beat Pinkerton. The Astros have won the last 19 meetings and lead the all-time series 30-6-0. Londonderry hasn’t beat Pinkerton since 2001.

It’ll definitely be a big night at Lancer Park.

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BASEBALL AMERICA selected Bedford’s Grant Lavigne as one of nine non-pitchers on its Rookie-League all-star team, which was released last week. Players from the Appalachian League, the Pioneer League, the Arizona League and the Gulf Coast League were eligible to make the team.

Lavigne, a first baseman, helped the Grand Junction Rockies reach the Pioneer League Championship Series for the first time. Grand Junction lost the best-of-three series to the Great Falls Voyagers (White Sox) in two games.

Lavigne finished his first professional season with a .350 average (72 for 206), six home runs, 38 RBIs and 45 walks. He struck out 40 times and had a .477 on-base percentage.

Not bad for someone who was facing high school pitching three months ago.

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FRIDAY NIGHT wasn’t the first time New Hampshire Fisher Cats infielder Jon Berti and Fisher Cats manager John Schneider have celebrated a league championship together. Berti was a rookie on the short-season Vancouver Canadians when Schneider steered them to the Northwest League title in 2011.

New Hampshire claimed this year’s Eastern League championship by sweeping Akron in a best-of-five series with an 8-5 victory Friday. Berti was in the lineup as the team’s designated hitter that night and collected three hits, two RBIs, stole a base and scored twice.

The Blue Jays selected Berti in the 18th round of the 2011 draft. Toronto traded him to Cleveland this year, but the Blue Jays re-acquired him in June.

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UNH women’s basketball coach Maureen Magarity will be among the presenters at the 12th Annual New Hampshire Basketball Coaches’ Association coaches clinic, which will be held Sunday, Oct. 21 at Concord High School.

Visit for more information or to register.

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A REMINDER that there will be a meeting to discuss the current state of American Legion Baseball in New Hampshire tonight (7 p.m.) on the second floor hall at Post 48 in Hudson. Anyone interested in American Legion Baseball in New Hampshire is invited to attend.

New Hampshire is looking to add teams at the Senior and Junior levels. Rick Harvey, the state’s American Legion Baseball chairman, is encouraging any post that does not currently sponsor a team to explore the possibility of adding a program.

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Colorado’s 45-14 victory over UNH on Saturday came as no surprise — the Buffaloes were 35-point favorites — but the Wildcats seemed to exit that game with the same problem they had entering the contest: the inability to establish a running game.

Colorado held UNH to 42 net yards rushing on 31 attempts. Take away a 15-yard run by Carlos Washington and the Wildcats were held to 27 yards on 30 carries. The Wildcats (0-3) were averaging 33 yards per game on the ground through their first two games.

UNH has scored 24 points in its three losses, including Saturday’s ’s 15-yard interception returned for a TD against Colorado.

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