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Concord baseball sees season end with 5-3 first-round loss to Nashua North

  • Concord's Connor Ferns is stopped by Nashua North's Sam McCarthy's knee while trying to slide into third in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Concord's Connor Ferns is stopped by Nashua North's Sam McCarthy's knee while trying to slide into third in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Concord's Ben Bengtson celebrates after his hit brought two runs in the seventh inning in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Concord's Ben Bengtson celebrates after his hit brought two runs in the seventh inning in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Concord's Gracion Smith slides safely to second in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Concord's Gracion Smith slides safely to second in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Concord's Connor Ferns is stopped by Nashua North's Sam McCarthy's knee while trying to slide into third in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Concord's Ben Bengtson celebrates after his hit brought two runs in the seventh inning in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Concord's Gracion Smith slides safely to second in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • in the first round Division I championship game against Nashua North on Thursday afternoon, June 5, 2014. Concord lost 5-3. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The Concord baseball team showed flashes of the team that won six of its final seven games and entered the playoffs as one of Division I’s hottest teams.

There were just too few of them. And they came far too late.

The fourth-seeded Crimson Tide fell down early and a seventh-inning rally couldn’t undo the damage in a 5-3 first-round loss to No. 13 Nashua North at Memorial Field yesterday.

“I didn’t think we played bad,” said Coach Scott Owen, whose team lost in the first round for the first time since 2010. “I thought they played great. You’ve got to give them credit. Their pitchers did a great job, they played well defensively and they hit the ball when they needed to. It just wasn’t our day today.”

The Tide (12-7) wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t sharp either. Difficulties in the field, on the basepaths and in the batter’s box with runners on base had Concord consistently frustrated as potential big innings slipped away, missed opportunities that loomed large when the Titans (9-12) took control early with two runs in the first, one in the third and two more in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead.

“We played loose,” Nashua North Coach Kyle Harvell said. “We played tight for the first 20 games of the year and that didn’t work out for us, so we wanted to try something new.”

Concord got one back in the sixth when Connor Loughery singled and eventually came around on a passed ball, but it waited until the seventh to ratchet up the drama. Gracion Smith hit a ground ball to second base that kicked off of Brendan Martin, bouncing far enough into right field for Smith to make it safely into second base. That brought up Ben Bengtson, the Tide’s best hitter all season, and the senior shortstop blasted an 0-1 offering deep into the left-center field gap, over the outfielders’ heads and off the wall.

Smith scored easily and Bengtson raced to third, where he saw Owen frantically waving him home when left fielder Anthony Garuti’s throw went to no-man’s-land behind shortstop. The Titans gathered the ball in time for a play at the plate, but Bengtson beat the throw with a head-first slide, prompting a celebration as Concord cut the gap to 5-3.

“We’re down by two with no outs, we’re a team that comes back, and I felt like we had it,” Bengtson said. “I thought ‘This is our game.’ ”

Harvell could sense that thought creeping into his players’ heads as well, and he gathered his pitcher and fielders on the mound before the next at-bat. The powwow worked, as Titans pitcher Ricky Constant got the next three Tide hitters out to end the game and Concord’s season.

“It was the first time all day we got tight,” Harvell said. “I went up to the mound, I called everybody in and I told them a joke. (I) got them to laugh a little bit and loosen up, and we were able to go play again.”

What was the joke?

“I don’t think you could put that in the paper,” he said.

The inning summed up Concord’s struggles as a whole throughout the game. When the Tide needed a clutch hit, it wasn’t there. When it finally got one, it needed more. It was a sharp contrast to how the Titans got their early lead, as Chas DeWitt had a two-run single in the first inning, then had an RBI double to knock in Spencer Madden in the third for a 3-0 lead. When Concord made an error to put the Titans’ leadoff man on in the fifth they took advantage, as Madden hit an RBI triple to right-center field and Brennan Kastens hit a sacrifice fly.

“When they got guys on, they got big hits,” Owen said. “We didn’t do that, really, until late in the game. And it was a little too late.”

Part of the struggles at the plate were due to North pitcher Zach Smith, who pitched around five hits allowed in five shutout innings. But Concord had the right-hander on the ropes in the first, when Mike Manoogian and Loughery (two singles) had hits, and in the third, when Seimou Smith and Rob Law had singles to put runners on the corners.

A groundout ended the first threat, a double play erased the second, and unforced outs at third cut down promising second and sixth innings as well.

“Sometimes you try to do too much,” Owen said.

Josh Partridge started for Concord and went four-plus innings, striking out five and pounding the strike zone but surrendering seven hits and four earned runs. Jon Lewis relieved and pitched the final three innings, striking out two and allowing no hits. It was a final note for the two senior pitchers, who were rotation stalwarts throughout the year and who helped the Tide earn another high seed despite a plethora of newcomers in the field and in the lineup.

“(The players) worked hard, fit themselves into positions. They did what we asked them to do,” Owen said. “We were playing really well and I don’t think we played bad today, we just didn’t do enough to get the job done.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

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Concord baseball team’s missed opportunities

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Concord baseball team struggled with runners on base and opportunities to chip away at an early Nashua North lead yesterday. Bottom 1st, runners on 1st and 3rd, two outs: Groundout to second Bottom 2nd, runner on 2nd, one out: Fielder’s choice, flyout Bottom 4th, runners on 1st and 3rd, one out: Double play Bottom 6th, runner on 2nd, one …

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