Superb pitching performances by Derry’s David Unkles and Londonderry’s Noah Tavano were the hallmarks of the 2017 season-ending double-header between the Derry Post 9 and Londonderry Post 27 American Legion baseball squads at Londonderry High School last Saturday, July 15.
Londonderry lefty hurler Tavano tossed a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory for his squad in game one, and Derry southpaw Unkles was nothing short of spectacular in hurling a no-hitter in his contingent’s 12-2 finish in game two.
Former Londonderry High School pitching stalwart Tavano was an outstanding pitcher in game one. The Londonderry lefty dueled with Derry right-hander Derek Hiscox, who was nearly as good as Tavano before suffering the hard-luck loss.
The only run scored in that first contest was plated by Londonderry, which only managed four hits off of Hiscox in the bottom half of the fourth inning when Dakota Johnson laced a one-out single which brought teammate Jonny Meskell home.
Hurler Tavano struck out five would-be hitters and didn’t walk anybody, holding the Derry offense to just three singles in snagging the superb victory.
“Noah’s performance was kind of a little flashback from the old days,” said Londonderry head coach Brian Meskell. “He hadn’t pitched in two years, but he looked like the old Noah out there today.”
Opposing pitcher Hiscox was almost as good, holding Londonderry to just four hits. He didn’t strike anybody out, but he only allowed one potentially-dangerous free pass while holding the hosts’ offense to a mere four singles.
The host team graciously provided a pizza lunch to both groups between games, and Derry pitcher Unkles, who garnered all-state recognition during a strong 2017 campaign for the Pinkerton Academy hardball crew this past spring, was a strikeout machine from the start of game two for his side.
The lefty struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced and finished the lopsided contest with no less than a dozen whiffs. He had a perfect game going into the fifth inning, and it only evaporated on a passed ball on a strikeout which would have in fact ended that frame.
The Derry crew ended the game in the latter half of the fifth inning by placing the 10-run rule into effect.
The visitors bashed out a Baker’s Dozen 13 hits in tallying a season-ending blowout of their rivals in support of Unkles’ magnificent mound work.
It was the second no-hitter of Unkles’ pitching career. He managed that major feat last autumn as a member of Pinkerton’s fall league team.
“I felt really good out there today,” said the skilled southpaw. “I had a little trouble in the fifth, but I just told myself to relax and I got it back.”
The Derry offense pounded away in the bottom half of the second frame, tallying six runs on five hits and one Londonderry error in collecting a commanding lead.
In that big frame, Josh Trzcienski smacked a two-run single and Ryan Simard drove in one run with a single.
The Derry lead grew to 9-0 in the bottom of the fourth as the visitors scored three more times on four hits and two Londonderry fielding miscues. Mat Albetski laced an RBI single for his side.
The home team plated its two runs without virtue of a hit – thanks to a Derry error – in the top of the fifth to make it a 9-2 contest. But, Derry put the 10-run rule into effect in the bottom of that frame thanks to another Londonderry error, a run-scoring double by Taylor Proulx, and an RBI single by Albetski.
In smacking its 13 hits, Derry had Brady Day, Jake McGill, Simard, and Trzcienski all whack two apiece.
“It’s great to go out with two good performances today,” said Derry head coach and Londonderry High graduate Mike Lynch. “We’re young and we didn’t have as good a season as we’d hoped. We had some ups and downs, but I’m really proud of the way we came out and finished strong today.”
Derry ended up at 4-11 in tough New Hampshire Legion District B, and Londonderry wound up at 5-10 in that same district. As a result, neither squad qualified for the 2017 state tournament.