This summer has been a fun and successful one for a number of Londonderry all-star youth baseball squads, and the 8-U hardball crew has been one of them.
The local crew finished second in the Youngsville tournament, followed up by winning the Salem tournament, and closed out its summer campaign with another strong showing in a tourney in Massachusetts in the last week.
The local contingent’s players include Matt Carroll, David Huntting, Samuel Bernardini, Mary Croteau, Drew Heenan, Joseph Cafaro, Taylor Dodge, Johan Pena, Kevin Rourke, Michael Thistle, Dominic Hufford, Tyler Miles, Colin Parent, Liam Stott, and Matthew Traynham.
The squad’s head coach was Greg Thistle, who was assisted by Tim Dodge, Ray Croteau, and Mike Huntting. The crew finished up with a 13-7 overall record for the summer campaign.
In the Youngsville tournament, the youthful crew did plenty of winning before dropping a decision to Hampstead in the championship contest.
“This was our first tournament, and the kids really played well,” said Dodge. “The pitching was very good in this tournament. The pitching was a team effort, led by Tyler Miles and Drew Heenan.”
The locals then moved on to the Salem tourney, which they won despite some battles with the weather along with the opposition, thanks to another impressive team effort.
“Due to rainouts, we had to play five straight days and the kids were fantastic,” said Dodge. “We were 3-1 in the preliminary round and then won the tourney after beating Salem in the semifinals.”
That big semifinal win was key to the locals’ ultimate victory in the tourney.
“That game was great. We got down early then battled back to win in the end. We then beat North Andover in the finals, 15-2. That was great for the kids, as we lost to them earlier in the tournament, 16-4.”
In that title contest, the Londonderry crew exhibited superb pitching, hitting, and defense. Both Taylor Dodge and Drew Heenan threw out North Andover runners attempting to steal bases, and Matt Carroll put forth great defense at second base.
Johan Pena drove in four runs with a triple in the first inning and a double in the fourth. Joseph Cafaro started a five-run rally in the third with a triple, and Carroll knocked a two-run double in that inning also. Matt Traynham and Taylor Dodge followed up with RBI singles to make the score 7-2.
“We scored four in the fourth on three consecutive doubles by Kevin Rourke, Tyler Miles, and Drew Heenan,” said Dodge.
Michael Thistle scored two runs in the game also, reaching base safely in both of his at-bats, and Mary Croteau rounded out the scoring with an RBI single in the fifth.
Then in the Tyngsboro, Mass., tournament last week, the Londonderry bunch bounded its way into the final four, thanks to the fact that it went undefeated in its first four contests with a 3-0-1 record. The locals outscored those four opponents by an impressive, 40-13 margin.
That stellar work put the Londonderry side into late-round action Sunday, Aug. 3, and the locals were feeling confident.
The local crew began that day by beating the Lowell Gallery team by a 4-2 tally, with Miles, Heenan, and Rourke each hurling two strong innings. Pena had the big bat for the victors with two key hits.
In the title game against the Lowell Highlands’ squad, they dropped a 9-4 decision and saw its hopes of a second tourney championship fall by the wayside.
“I wish we ended winning the last game, but we made the championship again,” said Dodge. “I really am proud of the kids, and from a (Londonderry Athletic Field Association) standpoint, these kids really rounded out a great all-star season by all the teams.”