NASHUA — The 1-4 start for the Bedford High School baseball team seems like a century ago.
The Bulldogs quickly turned around their season, winning 11 of their final 13 regular-season games. On Saturday afternoon at Holman Stadium, the run continued with Bedford rallying from a 2-0 deficit with three unearned runs in the third during a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Bishop Guertin in the quarterfinals of the Division I Tournament.
“It was a great win in a pressure game,” said Bedford coach Billy Chapman. “My players battled the entire game, and I cannot say enough about their grit Saturday. We found a way to win. We got the lead and held them after a rocky start.”
The sixth-seeded Bulldogs (14-6) will play the winner of the 10th-seeded Portsmouth and 15th-seeded Dover matchup on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in semifinal-round action at Holman Stadium.
Junior Trevor Anibal (2 for 3, two singles) and sophomore catcher Kyle Lavigne (2 for 3, two singles) were key components in Bedford’s lineup. Senior starter Blake Murray earned the win in five-plus innings, rebounding from giving up two earned runs in the first. He relinquished five hits, walked three and struck out three, while posting 1-2-3 innings in the third and fifth.
The third-seeded Cardinals (16-6), who started 11-0, received a 2-for-2 effort by junior Matt Thibault (two singles, RBI, intentional walk). Senior starting pitcher Stephen McLendon was tagged with the loss, giving up three unearned runs and eight hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
“Stephen threw the ball well and there kid settled down on the mound,” said BG coach Scott Painter. “I thought we had opportunities and let him off the hook a little bit.”
Bedford led the hits category, 8-6, and each team made an error. All five runs in the game were scored with two outs.
Trailing, 2-0, in the third, Bulldogs freshman Ryan Juliano reached first with one down on a fielding error by McLendon. A single up the middle by sophomore Michael Pratte and a walk by sophomore Zachary Fletcher loaded the bases with one out. McLendon struck out Anibal, but with two down, junior Jared Neikam connected on a two-run single to right. During the ensuing at-bat with runners on the corners, Neikam intentionally got caught in a prolonged rundown between first and second, allowing Fletcher to race across home with the game-winning run.
“You hit the ball hard, good things happen,” said Chapman. “We have plays that we run and they work. You have to have it in the right situation and the right personnel in there and we did (on that rundown play). We executed and it ended up being the winning run.”
A leadoff double off the left-field wall in the sixth by Cardinals junior Brett Anderson prompted the Bulldogs to call in senior relief pitcher Avery Mosseau. BG ended up putting runners on second and third with one down, but Mosseau got out of the jam by forcing two pop outs, preserving the one-run lead. He earned the save by pitching a 1-2-3 seventh.
“Avery has not pitched since the first game of the year,” said Chapman. “He has been injured and slowly rehabbing. He finally got cleared (Saturday). He is our captain and has been a leader for us with big hits. Saturday we needed him on the mound. He showed up and did a (great) job.”
BG opened the scoring during a three-hit first inning on two-out RBI singles by sophomore Jake Mitchell and Thibault, as the Cardinals took advantage of a pair of walks.