There’s a well-worn old adage which states that “It’s not how you start that matters but how you finish.” And the Londonderry nine-year-old Cal Ripken all-star baseball squad can tell you all about the glories of finishing up strong.
Manager John Fennell’s youthful but skilled and determined crew experienced some distinct bumps in the road at the start of its 2014 journey. But the locals ended that trip by winning the Tyngsboro (Mass.) Summer Baseball Classic Tournament recently.
“After a disappointing start to the season in the districts, our coaching staff and boys went to work on their mechanics and fundamentals of the game,” said Fennell. “The boys worked very hard taking numerous swings off the tee as well as live pitching from rubber-armed coach Ryan Kearney. They also took ball after ball in the outfield and infield. They learned situations from the coaches as well as how to become smarter players. The dramatic turnaround for the boys is due to their desire of wanting to be the best they can be. They earned every bit of the championship.”
In the Tyngsboro tourney, the local baseball bunch posted a perfect 6-0 record by beating Tyngsboro 2-1, PYO of Lowell 8-4, Concord (Mass.) 12-2, Lowell Highlands 8-1, Riverside-Bradford 5-4, and finally a tough Salem (NH) team 9-8 in the finals.
The offensive star of the tournament for the Londonderry crew was Connor Fennell, who batted a glittering .643 by collecting nine hits and hitting safely in all six games.
Nathan DeFazio contributed to the power with two triples and a double among his four hits, and Nate Kearney and Aidan Roy also contributed four hits apiece. Nick Halko added still more power by thumping three doubles, Justin Rivard knocked three hits (two doubles), and Kevin Griffin, Andrew Kullman, and Kevin Adie also registered three hits each.
While Connor Fennell was a true stalwart at the plate, he also did masterful work in his pitching role in winning all three of his starts and striking out 25 batters along the way. Nate Kearney registered two wins and 22 big strikeouts.
The local stars also got excellent relief pitching help as Ben Martin picked up a win in relief, and Kevin Griffin and Andrew Kullman each contributed two innings of scoreless pitching, with both striking out three batters.
The local contingent also flashed plenty of leather in getting to its tourney success, and there were many great defensive plays by all the boys. Brandon Galan led the way in that vital area by throwing out two runners from right field. Shortstop Kevin Adie, center fielder Justin Rivard, and left fielder Aidan Washington stood out defensively as well.
The versatile Adam Wholley was also a contributor to the Londonderry squad’s success.
Manager John Fennell was ably assisted by the aforementioned Ryan Kearney along with Neil Washington, Jeff Halko, Dave Wholley, John Griffin, and Garrett Adie.