A stupendous pitching performance and a dramatic comeback last week marked the two tournament victories that pushed the Londonderry High baseball squad into Division I semifinal-round play this week.
The Lancers got two steps closer to a return to the D-I title contest – in which they lost to Exeter last June – with victories over Manchester Memorial and Nashua North last week. They were slated to play a semifinal game at Nashua’s historic Holman Stadium against the Bedford High Bulldogs on Wednesday, June 11, after Londonderry Times press time. In their last meeting, the Lancers lost at home by a 3-0 margin.
The fifth-ranked LHS squad received an outstanding, one-hit pitching performance from Division I Gatorade Player of the Year Rob Del Signore in disposing of the number 12 Manchester Memorial Crusaders by a 3-0 tally in first-round tourney play at Lancer Park last Friday, June 6.
Lefty star Del Signore had a no-hitter going through six frames but had that melt away on a single to left field in the seventh. But he and his teammates still had loads to be proud of, and the win propelled them into a quarterfinal-round game against an upset-minded Nashua North crew that, as the number 13 seed, had ended the season of the fourth-ranked Concord High Crimson Tide in prelim action on the same day that Londonderry got rid of Memorial.
In that clipping of the Crusaders, the Lancers busted a scoreless tie with two runs in the latter half of the third inning and then one more in the bottom of the fifth to get to 3-0.
The Lancers got all of the runs they’d require for the overpowering Del Signore in the third on two hits and one Memorial error. Brett Evangelista and Jimmy Zimolka started the fun with back to back singles, and Del Signore then plated Evangelista with a ringing ground-rule double to right-center field. A moment later, Geoff Kayo rapped a sacrifice fly which scored Zimolka.
Londonderry run number three came across in the fifth thanks to two Memorial fielding miscues, with Zimolka – who had reached base on the first error – sprinting home on an error on a smack by Kayo.
The pitching effort by Del Signore made his 2014 record 5-2 and lowered his earned run average to a tiny 0.49, while the southpaw also shoved his strikeout total for the season to 106 in just 57 innings worth of work.
“Rob has continued to put up video game-type numbers and has set the tone for the rest of the team in the playoffs,” said coach Brent Demas.
Then in their quarterfinal-round game against Nashua North, the Lancers received a real scare from a Titans’ troop that was intent on another upset win.
The Gate City side reached LHS starting pitcher Tommy Corey for five runs in the third inning to claim a 5-2 advantage. And they were still up by a run at 6-5 going into the latter half of the sixth inning. But Londonderry bounced back with clutch offense to notch a 9-6 victory.
“Outside of one sub-par inning, Tommy kept his team in the game while the bats were waking up. It was a gutty performance and was the key to the game,” said Demas.
Important offensive efforts were put forth by Colby Joncas (2-for-2 with three key RBI), Kayo (2-3, one RBI), Evangelista (2-5, 1 rbi), and Jon Meskell (two RBI), and other big hits came off the bats of Corey and Zach Tavano.
“This was the type of win that solidifies a team’s confidence for a solid playoff run,” added Demas.