After victories over rivals Derry and Hudson last week the Londonderry American Legion baseball squad has qualified for the state tournament at Holman Stadium in Nashua this coming weekend.
The locals – who ended the regular campaign with a strong 12-6 record – assured themselves of a tourney bid by besting the struggling Derry Chase Post bunch by a 4-2 tally at Londonderry High Tuesday, July 14, and then by following up that work by defeating the Hudson opponent in an 11-2 blowout on its own diamond two evenings later.
“Its been a good season so far,” said manager Rick Brothers. “We have the guys thinking, and we’ll see what happens in the tournament.”
In the defeat of a Derry crew that wound up with a 5-12 record through its first 17 games, the Londonderry bunch got an excellent pitching performance from Matt Ross in tallying its 11th win of the summer.
Ross went eight innings on 117 pitches en route to the pitching victory. He gave up the two Derry runs on three hits in the top of the first frame, and Ross allowed a total of six safeties overall. After his rather rocky start, the Londonderry hurler found his groove and retired 16 of the next 18 batters. Geoff Kayo came in to pitch the ninth for the save.
Derry’s Chris Gerossie came out strong by breezing through the first three innings, but Post 27 made him work in the fourth inning.
The Derry righty was extended to a 24-pitch inning in that frame and Londonderry plated a run on a walk, a single, and a run-scoring ground out. However, Gerossie then rebounded by striking out the side in the Londonderry half of the fifth. Christian Bourgea started off the home half of the sixth with a booming triple to the right-center field gap, and when Colby Joncas followed up with a single, the score was knotted at 2-2.
A strikeout and ground-out later found Joncas on third base with Troy Nielsen at the plate, and Nielsen singled up the middle to score Joncas for the 3-2 lead.
Londonderry later scored an insurance run in the eighth on singles by Zack Byers and Nielsen, followed by a bunt single by Nick Salcito that scored his teammate Byers.
The victorious hosts scored their four runs on six hits, with Bourgea (a single and a triple) and Nielsen (two singles) each lacing two.
The other Londonderry hits were by Byers and Joncas. Winning pitcher Ross wound up striking out seven batters and walking just two in his eight strong innings.
And after pummeling Hudson by an 11-2 score on the road on Thursday, July 16 to move to 12-5, Brothers’ boys then closed out their 2015 regular season last Saturday, July 18 with a hard-fought 4-2 loss to the top-ranked Legion juggernaut from Rochester at LHS.
The 16-1 visitors – who haven’t lost since June 26, when they dropped a 3-2 decision to Nashua in the Gate City, raced out to a 4-0 lead and had lefty starting pitcher Andrew Barnes doing one heck of an imitation of the legendary Steve Carlton during that southpaw’s prime years with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1970s.
Spaulding High School grad Barnes – who will be playing his college ball at Franklin Pierce University – had a perfect game rolling until the bottom of the fourth, when he walked Londonderry’s Geoff Kayo with one out.
And Barnes’ no-hitter stood up until the bottom of the sixth when Kayo laced a one-out double that scored Nick Salcito to make the score 4-1.
Moments later Colby Joncas thumped a single that scored Kayo and made the score 4-2. And that’s where the final game tally would end up.
The hosts finished the evening with a total of three hits off two Rochester hurlers, with Barnes ending up with 11 strikeouts in seven innings worth of work. The five errors the host squad committed in the defeat wound up hurting it considerably.
Londonderry pitchers Nick Musto and Noah Tavano combined to hold the top-ranked opponent to the relatively low total of seven hits, and Rochester ended up leaving 12 runners stranded on bases.
The local legion team is slated to play Bedford in the first round of the playoffs at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Holman Stadium in Nashua.