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Ritchie fans 17 batters in 3rd perfect game in history of Laconia Little League

LACONIA — With Stafford Oil well ahead of VFW on Wednesday evening, manager Toby Knowlton contemplated lifting his starting pitcher until he was reminded that Nicholas Ritchie had thrown a perfect game through four innings. "I left him in," Knowlton said, "and he finished it."

Ritchie not only pitched a perfect game by not allowing a runner to reach base but also struck out 17 of the 18 hitters to step to the plate. Only Brady Hayes, leading off the fourth inning for VFW, put a ball in play by bunting directly to Ritchie on the mound, who easily threw him out. Ritchie delivered just 64 pitches — three-and-a-half for each batter he faced— to complete his masterpiece.

Ritchie's father Dana said that he was told his son's perfect game was just the third pitched in the history of Laconia Little League, which began in 1951.

"I always tell myself," Ritchie said yesterday, "if I just throw strikes, I'll do just fine." He said that he relies on three pitches— a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball and cutter — but will serve up the occasional circle change-up. Although blessed with velocity, the young right-hander stressed the importance of locating his pitches and changing his speeds. "I want to throw the cutter when they're expecting a fastball," he explained.

Knowlton said that catcher Levi McCallister contributes significantly to Ritchie's success. "Levi knows what Nicholas can do," he said. "I might call a pitch sometimes, but 99-percent of the times its whatever the two of them want to do."

Recalling the perfect game, McCallister said that "I knew what was going on but I didn't say anything. I didn't want to jinx him," he continued. "I told him keep pitching and stay smart. Nicholas is the star of the show."

The battery mates also provide punch at the plate. Ritchie has hit Little League pitching for a an average of .586 while McCallister is hitting .650, with eleven doubles and two triples accounting for half his base hits.

The pair also play for the Concord Cannons, a travel team playing in a tournament at Tufts University this weekend. Ritchie has posted eight wins without a loss, striking out 65 and walking 10 in 42 innings and a batting average of .367 while McCallister has hit at a .458 clip. Both are just eleven, with another year to play in Little League. "Another year of domination," McCallister proclaimed.

"They're a pretty talented bunch," Knowlton said, adding that he believes the current crop of Little Leaguers are the best the city has produced in a number of years.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 02:00

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Horses removed from Northfield property

NORTHFIELD — Police working with a licensed veterinarian, and a representative from the N.H. Department of Agriculture removed four horses from a property at 85 Zion Hill Road yesterday.

Police said they went to the farm after getting a complaint on April 25 and found four horses that were in need of veterinary care. All four had extraordinary long hooves and were in a barn filled with feces.

"Some of the horses looked like they had duck feet," he said.

They also said the barn was unsound.

The four horses were taken yesterday to the Live and Let Live Farm for care and boarding.

Police Sgt. Mike Hutchinson said it appears to be a case where the four horses that were removed had been being boarded on the property but the owners were not providing for their upkeep. He said the man who owns the property was trying to keep up with their maintenance but was unable to do so.

Hutchinson said six other horses that belonged to others remained on the farm and can stay there as long as they remain in the pasture. He said the building inspector will be working with the property owner to make the barn safe.

Police said the owners of the four horses that were removed yesterday have been identified and the case is still under investigation.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 11:46

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Prosecution rests as mother of alleged victim testifies in Tilton rape trial

LACONIA — The prosecution of a Tilton man for rape and indecent exposure ended yesterday as the jury saw a tape of the disabled alleged victim, heard from the alleged victim's mother and listened to a second man who testified he witnessed the event.

The 30-minute tape of an attempt at a forensic interview of the alleged victim, 22 at the time, showed a small man with black hair who was uncooperative, didn't want to listen or obey any instructions, and who was in constant motion. He could say "no" and uttered a few words but the interview was unsuccessful.

After the tape, the victims' mother said she had known Thomas Gardner — the man accused of having fellatio performed on him by the disabled man — for years and that they had lived together for 15 years. She said they met when her son was 5-years-old and "she considered (Gardner) more or less like his dad."

Gardner is accused of one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and one count of indecent exposure.

She said her son has multiple disabilities that include seizures and epileptic fits. She said he had a high pain tolerance and will bite himself if he is in a stressful or unfamiliar place. She also said he would bite down during seizures.

The mother also said that even after she broke up with Gardner, he continued to play an active role in her son's life — often taking him for weekends and caring for him when she had to work or go to school.

She said some of the things her son enjoyed doing with him were visiting her at her job and going for rides in the car. She said the car rides calmed him.

On the day of the alleged sex crime, January 17, 2013, she said she was working as a parking attendant for the Tilton Police Department when Det. Nathan Buffington contacted her and told her she should go to her son immediately because there had been an incident.

She also said Gardner had called her and told her to pick up her son because the police had made an accusation against him.

The woman said the Tilton Police Department cut back her hours, came to her house and got her uniforms, and then terminated her.

The mother said she took her son to Concord Hospital the day the rape was reported and an advocate asked him questions but he'd answer yes or no or just laugh. She said when they checked him like they did at a regular visit, he began to get agitated.

"He didn't know why he was there. It wasn't a normal thing for him," she said, saying her son often goes to the hospital but because he wasn't sick he didn't understand why he was there that day.

She said they medicated him and did blood and hair swabs but nothing else could be done because the doctors would have had to intubate him and he had nearly died from a similar procedure two years before following some dental surgery.

Under cross examination, she testified that during the 32 days her son was hospitalized after the intubation, Gardner visited him frequently.

The alleged victim's mother also described the Volkwagen Rabbit Gardner owned, saying she doesn't think there were ever any seat covers — something Det. Nathan Buffington alluded to during his testimony.

The mother said her son also has a mustache — something that the two men who leveled the accusation against Gardner, Mark Corente and Joseph Ernst, said they didn't see.

Ernst was the state's last witness and he said he and Corente were at Sherryland (mobile home) Park that day to look for trailers that Corente said he had seen advertized for sale on line.

He said he saw Gardner's Volkswagen come through the park, drive past Corente's car and park a little way down the road. Corente testified yesterday that Gardner couldn't have driven past his car because he had parked in the middle of the street.

Ernst said that when he and Corente saw Gardner's car they got back into theirs and drove the short distance to where Gardner was parked. He said it was a chilly winter day and Gardner's drivers side window was open.

Under direct examination, Ernst said he got out of the passenger door of Corente's car, walked up to the window and saw what he said was an erect penis with a boy's mouth on it.

He said the boy sat up and Ernst asked Gardner if he knew anything about the trailers. He said Gardner "stuttered" and said "no" so he got back into Corente's car and the two drove to back to the entrance to the park and called 911.

He said Corente spoke with the police but was disconnected.

Under cross examination, defense attorney Amy Ashworth reviewed Ernst and Corente's path through the park that included Ernst saying he'd seen Gardner park where he parked.

He stated that he never saw the alleged victim's head "pop up" before he got out of the car, which is what Corente said yesterday. He said he saw his mouth but not his mustache.

When Ashworth asked him if he saw what he thought was a young boy performing fellatio on an adult man and still asked him about trailers, Ernst said he saw the head pop up after he got back to Corente's car.

He testified that the two left the park, drove to Corente's house off Lancaster Hill Road and that Corente called Buffington. He said they went from Corente's home back to Sherryland Park to meet Buffington and then to the Tilton Police Station.

Becoming flustered under cross-examination he accused Ashworth of trying to twist his story and the judge ordered the jury to ignore that statement.

Ernst initially said he wrote a statement and that his interview wasn't taped. When Ashworth showed him the transcription of his interview with Buffington and some inconsistencies with what he told Buffington and what he earlier said under oath, Ernst said Buffington got it wrong. He changed his story to say he spoke and Buffington took notes.

When Ashworth reminded him that he reviewed the transcript with Deputy Asst. County Attorney Carley Ahern before his testimony and agreed it was correct, Ernst replied that he "wasn't paying much attention and that it had been a long day."

After the state ended its case, and out of the earshot of the jury, the defense made a motion to dismiss it, arguing that Ahern hadn't presented enough evidence to substantiate the charges as defined by statute.

Judge James O'Neill denied the motion and the jury was brought back in.

Defense witnesses were Sherryland Park manager Fred Love and former park owner George Hast who both testified that none of the trailers were for sale nor had either of them placed any kinds of ad on line or anywhere else.

They both said there were no for sale signs although Corente said there were and Ernst said there weren't.

Hast testified that on the date of the alleged rape, Sherryland Park was under a purchase and sale agreement and any vacant trailers on the property were included in that agreement.

The trail resumes at 1:30 p.m. Monday when O'Neill told the jury he expects the defense to finish and for both sides to give closing arguments.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 June 2014 12:11

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Laconia school psychologist receives ‘Excellence in Education’ award

LACONIA — Christina Flanders, a school psychologist with the Laconia School District, has earned herself a New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award — or "ED" ie — as the school psychologist of the year. The award will be presented this evening at the 21st annual awards ceremony at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.

Flanders, who grew up in the Lakes Region, has worked in the city's elementary schools for the past nine years and this year added Laconia High School to her responsibilities. She said that the New Hampshire Association of School Psychologists solicited nominations and school Superintendent Terri Forsten put her name forward.

"I'm very proud and excited to have been selected," she said.

Flanders is in the process of completing her docotoral degree in school psychology at the University of Southern Maine and recently joined the adjunct faculty of Plymouth State University. She lives with her husband and two sons in Sanbornton.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 11:41

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