Stepping into a game against the Londonderry 10-U all-star baseball squad right now is akin to walking in front of a speeding train. Nobody really wants to do it.
The local hardball crew, which won the 9-U state Cal Ripken title last summer and then came back a year older this year and went undefeated in winning the New Hampshire 10-U crown recently, went a perfect 3-0 in pool play at the Cal Ripken regionals in Marlborough, Massachusetts last weekend.
As a result of that success, head coach A.J. Marsh’s Londonderry contingent rolls into this week’s single-elimination, championship-level play as the top seed in Pool A and the only unbeaten squad in that big tourney.
After putting forth an impressive showing in the skills competition on Friday, July 14, the New Hampshire state champs went out and vanquished their first two opponents in pool play the next day.
In skills competition, Ryan Perry and Carter Browning took first and second respectively in the Golden Arm event. Browning was the 9-U champion last year in that event, in which participants need to make a long throw from the outfield to a target at home plate.
Then in game one of its pool play on Saturday morning, the local crew absolutely hammered the Rhode Island entry from West Warwick by a 15-0 count in a 10-run-rule-shortened contest.
Londonderry pitchers Jonathan Wilson, Brady Gillis, and Ryan Williams combined on the stellar shutout, with starter Wilson going 3 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts to earn his squad’s Cal Ripken Player of the Game pin from the commissioner. Gillis then closed out that frame on three pitches, and Williams closed out the game by getting the last three outs.
The locals plated seven runs in the fifth inning and banged out a total of eight hits, with Cole Metivier and Jayden Hamilton each lacing multiple safeties. Browning, Hamilton, and Metivier each drove in two runs.
Defensively, catcher Casey Marsh came up big, picking off two runners attempting to steal third base and one trying to swipe second.
But, the Londonderry crew had to go to considerably greater lengths that evening before pulling out a 4-3, walk-off win over the host team from Marlborough, which is the defending regional champion.
The winning hit was a two-run double smashed by Ryan Williams in the sixth inning. Londonderry bashed out a total of nine hits, with Devin Boles and Williams each drilling multiples and Williams and Browning each driving in two runs. Hamilton and Gillis combined on strong pitching work in the tight victory.
Williams earned the Player of the Game pin for his squad, which then faced a big Sunday afternoon contest against the Connecticut crew from West Hartford.
The West Hartford bunch was simply no match for the locals, who bagged a convincing 11-2 victory to stay undefeated coming into the title round of play.
Londonderry smashed out some 10 hits in the win, scoring five big runs in the sixth inning of play. Zach Mantegari, Boles, Gillis, and Browning each knocked multiple hits for the winners, with Boles bashing a home run to center field.
Perry got the start as a pitcher, and went three innings, surviving a scare in the first frame when he knocked down a line-drive smacked back through the box with his bare pitching hand. The tough young hurler got the out and with the aid of some ice between innings managed to remain in the game.
Gillis then gave his squad three strong frames, rifling 29 strikes out of 34 pitches and getting a first-pitch strike on every one of the 13 batters he faced.