Londonderry Legion Has Hopes Dashed in State Tourney

When a team gets involved in a double-elimination tournament – as the Londonderry American Legion baseball squad did last weekend – one of the things it needs to do is come flying out of the chute with a strong performance in its first contest.

And while the third-seeded District B contingent didn’t overwhelm the District A second seed Bedford at Nashua’s Holman Stadium in day two of tourney play Saturday, July 25, the Post 27 bunch had every reason to stride confidently away from that diamond with a 3-1 victory.

The local guys produced just enough offense, played some snazzy defense, and received a gutsy pitching effort from Londonderry High School all-state selection Nick Musto in getting Bedford half way to the tournament’s exit.

But things didn’t go so well for the Londonderry hardball side in its second game the next day. That ended up being a high-scoring, extra-inning loss to the tough Rochester troop.

In game one, however, Nick Musto made sure that his manager wouldn’t need to utilize another pitching arm on the mild July afternoon by battling his way to a complete-game victory.

The skilled lefty threw 103 pitches and allowed eight hits and no walks while striking out a modest two batters.

“After six (innings), Nick was at like 57 pitches, and he told me to keep an eye on him,” said manager Rick Brothers. “But in the eighth he told me ‘I’ve got this,’ and he was able to finish up. It was a good performance.”

The Bedford bunch began the game with a big serving of frustration, thanks to two infield errors in the top half of the first inning that led to a pair of unearned runs. And as things turned out, those two runs wound up being all Londonderry needed to bag the tourney win.

The local side loaded the bases with just one out in that frame and plated the two runs on the second of the infield errors, which came on a ground ball off the bat of Bobby Baril.

Londonderry ended up stranding two men on base in both the first and second frames, but had the modest 2-0 advantage in its grasp. The locals finished up with nine runners left on base, but in the final analysis that number didn’t matter much.

The Post 27 lead grew to 3-0 in the top of the seventh when Colby Joncas’s sacrifice fly scored Jimmy Zimolka, who had begun the inning with an infield single.

Bedford trimmed its deficit back down to two runs at 3-1 in the latter half of the seventh, but the District A competitor would do no more scoring and left seven men on base.

Londonderry tallied a total of six hits off two Bedford pitchers, with Zimolka raking two singles and Christian Bourgea notching both a single and a double.

That victory placed the Post 27 contingent into a Sunday winners’ bracket battle with the tough Rochester squad, the number one seed from District B.

The weather forecast for Sunday afternoon – when the Londonderry/ Rochester contest was to be played – was iffy at best. So the Londonderry boys knew stepping into Sunday that they might be looking at a bit of time to contemplate the fact that they’d lost both of their regular season meetings with that opponent, which plowed its way to a 16-2 record on the way into the tourney.

Sunday did get damp, but Londonderry and Rochester got their second-round game in, and then some.

It took 11 innings, but Rochester strode away with a hard-fought 11-10 win over Brothers’ bunch.

That defeat left the members of the local contingent heading to bed on Sunday night knowing that its Monday afternoon meeting with Dover might be its last game of 2015.

Both teams had one loss in the double-elimination tourney, with Dover having gotten edged by Manchester’s Sweeney Post on Saturday but rebounding for an 8-2 whipping of Laconia on Sunday.

And it was the Dover crew that would advance in the tournament after ending Londonderry’s 2015 campaign with a , 6-1 defeat on Monday.

The game was close until the latter half of the eighth inning, when the seacoast squad busted open a 2-1 barn-burner by plating four more runs. And three of those markers were scored on a long home run to left-center field.

Even more frustrating than the late, four-run Dover frame from the point of view of the Londonderry team was that they stranded 11 men on base in the loss.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth – although Londonderry had already left five men stranded on bases by then – when the seacoast side scored once off Londonderry starting pitcher Bobby Baril without managing a hit. The leadoff man walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, got to third on a grounder to the right side of the infield, and scored on a sacrifice fly to give his team the 1-0 lead.

Londonderry tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fifth when Geoff Kayo raced home on an infield error, but the locals would leave two more men on base in that frame, two in the seventh, and one more each in the eighth and ninth in failing to do any more scoring.

Pitcher Baril lasted 5 1/3 innings, walking four, striking out four, and allowing three hits and the two earned runs that ultimately made the difference for his team in the tourney game.

He also had the loudest of Londonderry’s six hits, a ringing double to the left-center gap in the eighth inning. And Baril wound up stranded on base.

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