Scoring 10 runs in its first game and nine more in its second, the Londonderry High baseball team got its 2014 campaign under way with a couple of road victories last week.
And as the week came to a close, the Lancers added a victory over their rivals from Pinkerton Academy in the LHS home-opener to make their early-season record 3-0.
Coach Brent Demas’ Lancers outlasted the host Manchester Memorial High Crusaders in a 10-9 decision at Gill Stadium on Thursday, April 17, and the next afternoon the LHS contingent enjoyed a lopsided victory when it beat the Spaulding High Red Raiders of Rochester by a 9-4 tally on that opponent’s home diamond.
The Lancer bunch was champing at the proverbial bit when its season-opener rolled around last week. The game had originally been slated for April 14, but Gill Stadium wasn’t available that day. So when the first official pitch of the Lancers’ season was thrown, the anxious local team had gone nearly a week since its final pre-season game.
Righty pitcher Mike Ryan – who missed the whole 2013 football season with a knee injury – collected the win for the Lancers in a back-and-forth battle with the host Memorial side.
The next day in Rochester, the Lancers got both strong offense and defense in besting their highly-touted hosts.
Lancer pitcher Nick Musto won his first varsity start by going five innings of four-run ball.
“He kept the Raiders off balance just enough to keep us on top,” said Demas.
Defensively it wasn’t a perfect day for the visitors, but the LHS guys got out of numerous jams with runners in scoring position. Nick Salcito drew praise from his coach for making a few great plays at shortstop and the Lancer outfield – led by veteran Zach Tavano – had a strong game.
At the plate, five Lancers knocked two hits apiece. Geoff Kayo (2-for-5, 2 rbi), Rob Del Signore (2-3, 2 rbi), Mike Ryan (2-5, 2 rbi), Tom Corey (2-4, 2 runs scored), and Ben Byerly (2-2, 2 runs) helped to make the Londonderry offense go on this productive day.
The Lancers’ 4-2 edging of the arch-rivals from Pinkerton last Saturday, April 19, provided the sizeable crowd with plenty of entertainment, but the folks in Londonderry uniforms and those cheering for them did some nail-nibbling in the top half of the seventh inning as Demas’ group worked to put the win away.
The visiting Astros – who are coached by LHS grad and former baseball player Steve Campo – got the bases loaded with nobody out and scored a run to lower their deficit from 4-1 to 4-2. But winning pitcher Tom Corey wriggled out of the trouble as Londonderry remained unbeaten.
The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning when leadoff batter Brett Evangelista doubled, moved to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kayo.
Pinkerton knotted the score at 1-1 by scoring on its first hit in the top of the third, and the score remained right there at 1-1 until the latter half of the fifth, when the Lancers plated two more runs on three hits.
Rob Del Signore drove in Evangelista with the first of those markers on a single, and Mike Ryan’s single a few minutes later plated Kayo, who had walked.
The Londonderry lead grew to 4-1 in the latter half of the sixth when Zach Tavano raked a single which scored Corey.
Pinkerton brought on far more drama than the Lancers would have liked in the top half of the seventh by notching three consecutive singles to load the sacks with nobody out. But Corey rebounded for two straight strikeouts to keep the runners just where they were and nab two of the three outs he required.
He issued a walk to bring one runner home and make it a 4-2 game, but the hurler then collected the final out as the next PA hitter grounded out softly to first base, with Corey covering.
The winning pitcher showed the kind of emotional and athletic growth he has undergone over the last several years by facing up to the intensity of that final frame and walking away victorious.
“Tommy has grown a lot both as a player and as a person over the last two years,” said Demas. “Two years ago he would have folded under the pressure in that inning.”
The Lancers bashed out a total of nine hits – with Corey holding Pinkerton to just four while striking out eight batters – and Evangelista and Ryan led the charge with two hits apiece.
Then this past Monday, the Lancers smacked out 10 hits in a 14-2 hammering of Concord at LHS that only went five innings, thanks to the 10-run rule.
Rob Del Signore took care of the pitching work (complete game, two runs allowed, one earned, 10 strikeouts, no walks) and the Lancer bats got a bit loud, led by Mike Ryan’s two hits and four runs batted in.