The Londonderry Redwings’ 12-U baseball squad hit the very highest heights recently when it won the New England Elite Baseball League Division 1-A Championship with some gutsy work at Fraser Field in Westbrook, Me., on Saturday, June 11.
The fifth-ranked locals assured themselves of the title by defeating the second-seeded Southern Maine River Rats by an 11-7 tally in the division’s championship contest that day.
Londonderry had finished an amazing 22-2 overall on the season to finish atop the 28-team Division 1-A league, which is comprised of teams from all over the New England region.
In the championship battle, Southern Maine cut an 8-2 deficit to 8-7 with a four-run fifth inning. But Londonderry finished off its opponent with three big insurance runs in the top of the sixth.
With two outs in that frame, Brandon Fish and Braeden Griffin hit back-to-back singles and Owen MacDonnell walked. Fish then scored on a passed ball, Griffin scored on an overthrow, and MacDonnell scored on a single by Justin Dickson as the locals made their lead far more comfortable again.
“We got the momentum back,” said Londonderry head coach Pete Griffin. “They had climbed back into the game, their crowd was getting into it, and then we just took it back.”
In a pitching role, Fish faced the minimum of six batters to close out the final two innings and seal the victory for the local boys. MacDonnell bagged the pitching win after hurling five frames.
In the early going, Gavin Parent had provided a big two-out, two-run single in the first inning to plate Fish and MacDonnell who had both singled. Londonderry went up 5-2 after two innings as Jake Holdsworth and Evan Beals both reached base and scored.
The Redwings had reached the finals in the regional tourney by virtue of a huge weekend the previous week in quarterfinal and semifinal action right here in the Granite State in Swanzey.
The local hardball side defeated the top-seeded Swamp Bats – from the Swanzey/Keene area – in two consecutive elimination games to reach the title round.
“They’re real good,” said Griffin of the Swamp Bats. “They were the number one seed for a reason. We just got hot at the right time.”
Trailing 4-3 in their final at-bat in game two in Swanzey, the Redwings scored nine runs on key two-run homers by Dickson and Ryan Killelea and a grand-slam blast by Parent to cap an epic comeback. Josh MacDonald, Jack Marshall, Fish, and Griffin all singled and scored in the huge deciding frame. Beals got the pitching win for Londonderry.
The Redwings had defeated the Swamp Bats 9-3 earlier that day to fight their way out of the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament. Fish (2-2, two homers, four RBI), Griffin (2-3, two runs, homer), Parent (2-3, homer, two RBI), and Dickson (home run) all went deep to lead the Londonderry power surge.
“The field was a band box,” said the Londonderry coach of tiny Cole Field in Swanzey. “Balls were flying out of there left and right. I’m just glad we had a few more than the other guys.”
Marshall (3-4, homer, three runs) led the locals’ 16-hit attack in a 16-13 quarterfinal victory over New England Baseball. MacDonald singled and then James Griffin and Avery Abbott both walked and scored on a Fish grand slam. Holdsworth also added a two-run shot in the slug-fest.
Londonderry had lost 11-1 to the Swamp Bats on Saturday, June 4 after opening the tournament with a 10-1 victory over the NE Baseball contingent.
“It was quite a weekend,” said the locals’ coach. “The boys won three consecutive elimination games on Sunday, June 5 to advance to the title game. That was an accomplishment in itself.”
The Londonderry Redwings’ 12-U baseball squad was quite understandably all smiles after winning the prestigious New England Elite Baseball League Division 1-A Championship in Westbrook, Me. recently. Courtesy photo.