Play ball: End of high school season signals start of summer baseball around the state

  • Concord shortstop Zach Miles throws to first for an out earlier this month during a Division I baseball quarterfinal at Memorial Field in Concord. The Crimson Tide won, 2-1. Miles is among the local players suiting up for Concord Post 21 in Legion baseball this summer. Jason Orfao / Monitor file

  • Concord starting pitcher Eric Sullivan fires a pitch earlier this month during the first inning of a Division I baseball quarterfinal at Memorial Field in Concord. The Crimson Tide won, 2-1. Sullivan is among the local players suiting up for Concord Post 21 during this summer’s Legion baseball season. Jason Orfao / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 6/12/2019 8:53:59 PM

While the high school season came to an end this week with the last of its championship games, fans still looking to get their baseball fix around the Granite State need not worry.

With the official start of summer a week away, the Baseball Coaches Association of New Hampshire is already preparing to put on a handful of showcase games, beginning with the Maine vs. New Hampshire Senior All-Star Game on Monday at noon.

The annual contest, which pits the top graduating seniors from each state against each other, will take place at Nashua’s Holman Stadium at noon. New Hampshire defeated Maine in last year’s event, 17-0, behind a 19-hit performance from a lineup oozing with talent.

“We like to let these kids come out here and have fun,” Bishop Guertin skipper Scott Painter told the Monitor last year after coaching New Hampshire to victory alongside Concord coach Scott Owen. “We’re rolling out First Team All-State kid after First Team All-State kid, so it’s a lot of fun.”

The BCANH’s Underwood Game – an event designed for players to showcase their skills in front of college coaches and MLB scouts – will take place Wednesday at Holman Stadium at 6 p.m. And New Hampshire will put up its best seniors from Division III and IV against Vermont in the annual Twin State Game, scheduled for June 22 at Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt.

The other All-Star event, the Granite State Games, is scheduled to run from Monday through June 23 at both The Derryfield School and Southern New Hampshire University.

Based on the Olympic model, the Granite State Games features nine sports, will have an opening ceremony and operates with a round-robin tournament to decide its champions. The baseball portion of the event includes four regional teams – Lakes, Southern, Coastal, Monadnock – and Hillsboro-Deering coach Erik Hagstrom will be leading the Monadnock Region.

Shifting away from All-Star festivities, the American Legion baseball season is already underway.

Managed by Tom Marshall, the Junior American Legion Weare Post 65 team – playing in its first game since 2017 – lost to Manchester’s Jutras Post 43 Tuesday, 9-4. The regular-season schedule will run up until July 27 before the Junior State Tournament begins on Aug. 2 at Salem’s Michele Memorial Park.

Weare and Concord also feature Senior Legion squads. Weare Post 65 is coached by John Stark’s Dennis Pelletier and Concord Post 21 by Matt Skoby.

The regular season gets underway Friday with Laconia visiting Weare at Saint Anselm College at 5:30 p.m. Concord won’t see its first action until Monday when it visits Merrimack at 5:30 p.m.

Concord’s roster is loaded with familiar faces from the high school team, both past and present. The Tide finished with the top seed in Division I this season at 16-3 and beat Goffstown in the quarterfinals before bowing out to eventual champion Londonderry, 4-1, in the semifinals.

Zach Miles, Eric Sullivan, Adrian Kennedy, Trevor Smith, Nate Vandersea, Sean McDonough, Ryan Merchant, Jonah Wachter, Tyler Wright, Ryan Kastle, Kyle Hill and Ronan McGonigle are all on the Post 21 roster, as are former Tide standouts Jacob Knowles (Wentworth) and Ryan Tessier (NEC).

The team will also feature Division II Player of the Year and Southern New Hampshire University commit Connor Blandini, Belmont’s Brett Auclair, Pembroke’s Peter Apgar and St. Paul’s Jake Sullivan.

The Senior Legion Tournament will begin on July 26 at Holman Stadium.

Other events for fans to catch around the state include several tournaments for the Concord Cannons travel baseball teams.

The 13U Showdown Tournament is scheduled to run from June 29-30 at Winnisquam High School in Tilton and Drake Field in Pittsfield. The 14U Showdown Tournament will take place in Concord on July 13-14.

The Cannons will also play in both the 16U and 18U Capital City Challenge on June 29-30. The 16U tournament will be played at NHTI and Rollins Park, while the 18U tournament will take place at Rolfe Park and White Park in Concord.

Concord Babe Ruth’s postseason is already underway and the five-team league will kick off its championship with Game 1 on Tuesday (6 p.m.) at Rollins Field.

The long road to Williamsport, Pa., for the 11-12 Concord Little League All-Star teams is slated to begin later this month with an eight-game round robin. The top four teams advance from there and both the 8-10 and 11-12 All-Star teams could play for the District II Championship in Tilton from July 20-21 with the winners moving on to the State Championship (a best-of-three series) against the District I champs from July 25-28.

Another win there would send the 11-12 All-Stars to the televised New England Regionals in Bristol, Conn., which runs from Aug. 4-10. The 8-10 All-Stars would earn a trip to Rhode Island for the Regional Championship.

The high school season may be over, but it’s still time to play ball.

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)

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