Its been a successful summer for Londonderry youth baseball and softball teams, with many of them making hay in their respective state tournaments and a few even getting as far as regional competition.
The Londonderry 14-U baseball squad made sure that it would get its share of the spotlight while exhibiting its skills in its level’s double-elimination state tourney in Plymouth recently.
The locals – who were coached by Jason Parent – finished up with a superb 12-4 overall record for the summer and fell just short of winning a state crown.
The all-star crew battled all the way to the state title round and ended up taking on the defending champions from Keene in two big games. And when the dust cleared, the Keene contingent had successfully defended its crown and was on its way back to the regional tournament, where it was a finalist last summer.
But be that as it was, coach Parent, his players, and their many supporters had a great many reasons to feel proud of what had been accomplished.
“It was a great title run for these boys, and they had a really good summer,” said Parent.
The local crew was led by Owen MacDonnell (pitcher/first baseman), Brandon Fish (pitcher/ shortstop), and Zack Rheault (catcher), along with Keith Cucinotta (pitcher/outfielder), Braeden Griffin (second baseman/pitcher), Gavin Parent (center fielder/pitcher), Ryan Killelea (utility man/pitcher), Owen Gingrow (second baseman), James Griffin (outfielder), Nathan Carroll (outfielder), Jack Marshall (outfielder/pitcher), Jake Holdsworth (third baseman), and Justin Dickson (catcher/outfielder). Owen Reilly also contributed significantly as the crew’s team manager.
The local squad’s state title run commenced with a 1-0 nipping of Hampton in round one, with hurler Fish keeping the seacoast side scoreless on a paltry two hits while striking out 13 on 95 pitches over 6 2/3 innings.
Owen MacDonnell then came in with the bases loaded and two out – with his team grasping its perilous 1-0 advantage – and got the save on four pitches by getting the final hitter to fly out to Gavin Parent in center. Londonderry had plated the game’s lone run in the third inning when Griffin was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a single by Fish, and sprinted home on a run-scoring single by MacDonnell.
Game two of the tourney – against the host Plymouth team – was far less of a challenge for the local squad in a 13-2 blowout.
MacDonnell and Gavin Parent combined on a fine pitching effort, and offensively Marshall helped to pace the potent attack by going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Additionally, the offense flourished with the contributions of Carroll (1-for-2 with a run), Fish (2-5 with a double and two runs scored), and Rheault (a double with three RBI).
That success placed Parent’s platoon into a semifinal-round contest with the Keene team, which was also a perfect 2-0 at that juncture.
In the semi, MacDonnell held the defending state champs to three runs on seven hits while striking out nine would-be hitters.
The Londonderry starter went 6 1/3 innings, with Fish earning the save by getting Keene’s lead-off hitter to line into a game-ending double-play.
On offense, the Londonderry bunch scored five runs on seven hits of its own in tallying the 5-3 victory.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the second, Rheault led off with a single, which was followed by another single from Holdsworth. Marshall then moved the runners over on a fielder’s choice before Gavin Parent knocked in both teammates on a single to give his side a 2-1 lead.
The locals then picked up two more runs in the third on a Fish single, a run-scoring double by Holdsworth, and an RBI single from Marshall.
Keene cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh frame before Londonderry picked up an insurance run on a bases-loaded walk to Marshall.
That win placed Londonderry into the final round, with Keene then beating Nashua to get itself back into the title game as well.
In the first game of the title round on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 18, Keene gained revenge in the double-elimination tourney and handed the local crew an 8-2 defeat.
One highlight for the Londonderry side in that lopsided loss was the offensive performance of Fish, who hit safely in three of four at-bats.
The two teams then played a winner-take-all final contest later that afternoon, and Keene came out on top of a 10-5 decision.
Offensively, the local contingent received two hits from Mr. Consistent Brandon Fish, and Dickson and Griffin each scored two runs.