Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 09:51
Gilford was scheduled to host Pelham yesterday evening. The winner of that contest will move on to Plymouth State University for the semi-final round, facing either Campbell or Stevens on Wednesday.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 09:50
The Sachems (17-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Drew Morin reached on an error when his hard-hit grounder went off Winnisquam third baseman Tony Martinez's glove directly to the shortstop, whose throw to first was too late to get Morin.
Morin stole second and after Pat Guyer fouled out to first, proceeded to steal third. Graham Nyhan followed with a hard shot to right field that hit the top of the five foot high right field fence but bounced back into the playing field. The hit scored Morin but was hit so hard that all Nyhan could manage out of it was a single. After pitcher Steve Levasseur flied to center, Nyhan was gunned down trying to steal second by Winnisquam catcher Dom DeBlaise.
The Sachems added another run in the second when Riley Stone was hit by a pitch and moved to second when James Salta laid down a sacrifice bunt which was juggled momentarily by Winnisquam pitcher Caleb Hutchins, allowing Salta to reach on a fielder's choice.
Andrew Salta popped to second but Andrew Kerns to followed with a single to left, scoring Stone. Hutchins prevented further damage by getting Cam Lyons to foul out to the catcher and Morin on a groundball to short.
Winnisquam's bats came to life in the third against Levassuer, who had retired five straight at that point. Greg Hunt led off with a single to center, Martinez singled to right and Tucker Normand also singled to right, loading the bases. Levasseur got Parker Normand on a swinging strike but DeBaise flied deep to center field for a sacrifice fly which scored Hunt, making it 2-1.
Hutchins then hit a hopper to second base which went under Kern's glove for an error, allowing Martinez to score and tie the game at 2-2. Levasseur fanned John Montalto to bring the inning to an end.
Laconia scored what would prove to be the winning run in the fourth inning. James Salta opened the inning with a single to left and moved up when Andrew Salta laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Andrew Kerns flied to left for the second out and Cam Lyons followed with a looping fly ball to short center which Winnisquam center fielder Parker Normand dove for and was able to glove. But as he hit the ground, the ball popped out of his grasp, allowing Salta, who had been off at the crack of the bat, to score, making it 3-2.
Lyons was out at second for the final out of the inning when the throw home was cut off and he was caught trying to stretch the hit into a double.
In the Winnisquam fifth inning Tony Martinez fouled out to start the frame but Tucker Normand popped a single to into left and then was caught as he tried to steal second on a perfect throw by Nyhan to Kearns. Parker Normand then drew the only walk given up by Levasseur in the game and moved up to second when DeBlaise singled to left.
Hutchins then drove a ground ball down the third base line which momentarily appeared to have tied the game but was ruled foul by the home plate umpire. Winnisquam coach Fred Caruso, believing the ball was fair, waved the baserunners around and told the home plate umpire that from where he was standing in the third base coaching box the ball had appeared to have gone right over the third base bag.
Hutchins never got a chance to take another swing. Both runners were off on the next pitch, which Levasseur threw wild allowing the runners to advance. Seeing home plate uncovered Parker Normand attempted to score but was caught in a run down between home and third base and was tagged out for the final out of the inning.
Laconia added an insurance run in the fifth inning when Morin was hit by a pitch, as he has been many times this season, and reached second on a wild pitch as he was attempting a steal. Guyer lined to right and Graham Nyan was then intentionally walked, putting runners on first and second. A double steal put runners at second and third and Levasseur then hit a soft liner which was caught in foul ground by the Winnisquam first baseman.
Riley Stone then hit an infield grounder between short and third which the Winnisquam third baseman gloved on the grass but bobbled as he tried to pick it up, allowing Morin to score and make it 4-2.
James Salta was hit by a pitch to load the bases but Hutchins was able to induce Andrew Salta to hit a foul pop to third, ending the inning.
Levasseur pitched a one-two-three sixth inning and Laconia threatened again with one out in the sixth when Lyons and Morin hit back-to-back singles with one out. Guyer fouled to first for the second out and Nyhan was at bat when DeBlaise picked Morin off first with a snap from his catcher's position.
Levasseur, who surrendered five hits and struck out five in his outing, had two strikes on Jack Decormier leading off the seventh inning when he hit with him a pitch.
But he induced Hunt, who had singled earlier, to hit a two-hopper to second base which Kerns fed to Salta for a force out and which Salta then gunned to Stone at first for a double play. Tony Martinez then grounded sharply to Salta for the final out of the game.
Winnisquam ended the season with a 12-6 record.
The Sachems will continue their quest for the Division III title when they meet fifth-ranked Conant Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 09:45
Coming home from practice one day, shaking his head in frustration, Wilson received a suggestion from his wife: "Why don't you split the practices?" A simple solution, one that seems obvious in hindsight, became a turning point in his coaching career. Wilson made the change several years ago, holding an early practice for players that needed fundamental training, followed by a later practice for the skilled players. Soon, Gilford started winning the NHIAA Division III state championship.
The Golden Eagles won their latest title on Tuesday, beating Bow 6-3. It was Wilson's third championship, all won over a four-year span. Wilson said the championship match was a dramatic finale to the season. "It was one of the most emotional matches in my 15 years of coaching," he said.
Since splitting the practices, Wilson has been able to accomodate developing players, those who might not be ready this season to play in either the six singles or three doubles slots of every match. With a practice dedicated to them, the players new to the game were more likely to remain interested and keep improving. After a few years of such development, Wilson found himself with teams that featured not just a few strong players at the top of the seeding, but with competitive players in every singles and doubles slot and capable backups in reserve.
Going into the post-season this year, Wilson knew he had depth on his team. Although nearly every player had lost at least once throughout the year – the exception being top seed Andrew Caulfield, who hasn't lost since joining the team two years ago – the team as a whole has pulled together for a perfect 16-0 season. However, said Wilson, most of those wins were fairly decisive. His team hadn't been really tested, not until the title match.
In the singles play of the championship match, Caulfield cruised to victory, as did Nolan Dwyer in the sixth seed. The fourth and fifth singles for Gilford, Keaton Quigley and Erich Berghahn, lost their matches. That left the team's co-captains and second and third seeds, Matt Saulnier and Alex Simoneau, still playing. Things weren't looking good, either, as both players had their backs against the wall and were one game away from defeat. They were behind, but not losing. "They both said to me, I'm not losing this match," Wilson recalled.
Saulnier and Simoneau rallied, each coming from behind to win 9-7. Wilson said their play affected more than their individual matches – it took the wind out of Bow's sails, knowing that they now had to sweep doubles matches to win, and it inspired the rest of the Gilford team, the coach said. "The kids are looking to them as leaders of this team to hang in there, to gut it out. Matt and Alex took it upon themselves not to lose."
Wilson knew his team had depth. He learned, during the championship, that they also have character. He said, "I'm certainly enjoying it now, especially for the seniors who wanted to go out this way."
He's losing five seniors to graduation this year, and expects the remaining 14 to return. Of those, only one will be a senior next year. Most of the rest, including the undefeated top seed Caulnier, will be juniors with championship experience.
"I see a bright, bright future next year," said Wilson.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 11:42