Junior Legion Baseball Crew Makes Life Tough For Opponents

While the Londonderry Senior American Legion Post 27 baseball squad has had to endure distinct struggles this summer, the Post 27 Junior Legion hardball team has had the opposite kind of summer to date.

That squad, under the leadership of Londonderry High junior varsity baseball coach Jake Ratka, went 7-1 in its first eight games and stepped into a rather unique game scenario last Friday afternoon, July 6, at Alvirne High in Hudson in which it had to complete one suspended game, take a little breather in the summer heat, and then play a complete second contest. And both ends of that unique double-header went great for the locals.

In the aforementioned first eight battles of the 2018 campaign, coach Ratka’s roster had managed a double-header sweep of Portsmouth on the seacoast, a 3-1 edging of Dover at LHS, a 13-3 pounding of Raymond in Londonderry, an 11-6 walloping of Salem on the road, a truly tough 6-5 extra-inning road loss to a Newmarket team which also stepped into last week with seven wins, followed by an 8-2 trouncing of that Newmarket crew and a 12-1 route of Raymond on the road.

In the odd twin-bill at Alvirne High late last Friday afternoon, Londonderry and the Hudson Post 48 contingent had to resume a rain-shortened game from mid-June which was suspended due to rain in the latter half of the third inning with the Londonderry side grasping a slim, 1-0 lead.

The locals would score twice more and ride the fine pitching of reliever Ryan Killilea to a pleasing 3-0 success. Cooper Ernst – one of three Pinkerton Academy players on this summer’s Londonderry team – tallied the pitching victory thanks to the strong three frames he pitched during the first part of that battle.

After taking a bit of a rest and allowing the two umpires to switch spots on the diamond, the two teams got back down to business on game two with Londonderry sending lanky and skilled righty pitcher Nolan Lincoln out to the hill. And Lincoln wound up being something of a nightmare for the home-standing Hudson side.

The big righty threw a complete-game two-hitter, striking out nine batters and walking none in making pitching look pretty easy. His defense supported him fairly solidly, and his offense produced seven runs on just four hits in a 7-0 shutout.

The Londonderry offense plated the only run it would require to win this one without even managing a hit in the top half of the first frame as Braeden Griffin drew a lead-off walk, stole second, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, and sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it a 1-0 contest.

The locals didn’t actually collect their first hit until the top of the fourth, and they notched four more runs thanks to that lone safety – an RBI double by Matt McGill from Pinkerton – and two Hudson errors in making it a 5-0 contest.

A throwing miscue from right field scored both Brandon Fish and Zach Rheault, Sean Cavanaugh jogged home on a bases-loaded balk, and McGill’s stinging double plated Alex Peters.

After watching Lincoln take care of three Hudson batters impressively on consecutive strikeouts in the bottom half of the fourth, Londonderry got to the 7-0 final score by scoring twice more in the top of the fifth.

In that half-frame, Cavanaugh slashed a sacrifice fly which scored Fish from third base, and Rheault sprinted in from that bag shortly thereafter on a fielder’s choice off of the bat of Chris Tutt.

With his team’s season record now bounced up to a truly sterling 9-1, coach Ratka had every reason to be proud of a group which exhibits plenty of youthful exuberance to go along with its considerable talent.

“This is a good unit to have. When they’re focused they’re tough to beat,” said the coach.