Concord loses see-saw battle to Nashua, faces exit from Senior Legion Tournament

  • Nashua catcher Kyle Hsu waits for the ball as Concord's Sean McDonough heads home during Monday's American Legion State Tournament game at Holman Stadium. McDonough ended up scoring on the play, but Concord lost by a 16-13 margin. Tom King/ Nashua Telegraph

  • Nashua's Kyle Hsu tries to reach to tag Concord's Sean McDonough at the plate during Monday's American Legion State Tournament clash at Holman Stadium. McDonough evaded the tag and scored, but Concord lost, 16-13 Tom King / Nashua Telegraph

  • ABOVE: Nashua’s Billy Gonya (left) dives back to first while Concord’s Sean McDonough awaits the throw during Monday’s American Legion State Tournament clash at Holman Stadium. BELOW: Concord’s Kyle Hill delivers a pitch during Monday’s game. Nashua won, 16-13. Tom King Photos / Nashua Telegraph

  • Concord’s Kyle Hill delivers a pitch against Nashua during Monday's American Legion State Tournament clash at Nashua's Holman Stadium. Tom King/ Nashua Telegraph

  • Concord’s Zach Miles watches as the throw gets by him as Nashua's Noah Therrien steals second during Monday's American Legion State Tournament clash at Holman Stadium. Tom King / Nashua Telegraph

Monitor staff
Published: 7/29/2019 10:37:04 PM

NASHUA – There were 18 runs, 11 hits, nine walks, two errors and a hit batsman as each team had to rely on its bullpen. 

And that was just the first inning of Monday’s New Hampshire American Legion Senior Baseball Tournament game at Holman Stadium.

Nashua Post 124 and Concord Post 21 took turns slugging each other early – piling up 29 runs combined in the first three frames – but Nashua held off Concord, 16-13, in what evolved into an unexpected duel between relievers. 

The victory gives Nashua (19-2) two chances to win the double-elimination tournament on Tuesday, while the loss ends a strong summer of baseball for District A champion Concord (16-6).

“These kids have so much heart. They never give up. They’ve come back so many times. It’s just hard to see it end for them,” said Concord assistant coach Josh Jarnot, stepping in for head coach Matt Skoby who was suspended a game after being ejected during Sunday’s win. “A lot of kids have been around three or four years with this group. They battled to get back into the game, we just couldn’t get anything going late.”

It initially looked like Concord was on its way to extending its season to the tournament’s final day. Post 21 sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs in the first despite only two hits as Nashua issued five walks. Sean McDonough (2-for-5, two runs, two RBI) legged out an RBI infield hit and Trevor Smith delivered a two-RBI single to right-center field.

However, Concord didn’t enjoy the early advantage for long.

Post 124, the District B champions, responded with a 13-run outburst – on nine hits, four walks, two errors and a hit batsman – against three Concord pitchers.

“Going into the bottom of the first, all I told them is that we need to get a couple back. We got a little more than a couple,” Nashua head coach Tim Lunn said with a chuckle. “I’ve never really seen that offensive output. I’ve never coached an inning like that. It was a great answer, I just kind of wish in the top half of the second we could have held them. … That made it an interesting game.”

Interesting was a bit of an understatement.

With the season on the line and their backs against the wall, Post 21 roared right back with seven runs in the top of the second on five hits, a walk and an error. Despite the rally, Concord still trailed, 13-12, and could never reclaim the lead.

The see-saw battle continued as the first zero didn’t hit the scoreboard until the top of the fourth. From there, the offense came to a screeching halt thanks to the efforts of Concord’s Jacob Knowles and Nashua’s Dante Young. 

Knowles put out a fire in the second inning, allowed one run after a two-out rally in the third and kept Nashua off the board the rest of the way, including an escape from a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth.

“I thought he was fantastic,” Jarnot said. “He was throwing his changeup to lefties, which is huge to have a pitching breaking away from lefties, his curveball was in the zone, his velocity was good. He looked great all-around.”

The stellar performance left Jarnot with a little bit of regret.

“I’m thinking of all the things that I could have done differently, pitching-wise, in that first inning just trying to stop the bleeding. I probably could have brought Knowles in sooner,” Jarnot said. “We knew that with Knowles, we were going to let him go. He was going to be our stopper.”

Unfortunately for Concord, Young served the same role for Nashua. He entered in the fourth inning with runners on first and second, but retired the heart of the order to prevent any damage. Post 21 stranded runners at second and third in the sixth, but couldn’t quite get over the hump against Young. 

“Dante gave us a huge, huge four innings on the mound,” Lunn said. “Nobody was able to throw up zeroes, and he came up and threw four zeroes up. It was absolutely huge for us and just kind of settled everything down.”

Max Mello (3-for-5, double, three runs, RBI), Albert De La Rosa (4-for-4, double, three runs, RBI), Brett Anderson (1-for-3, two runs, two RBI), Zach Finkelstein (3-for-5, three runs, two RBI) and Nikolas DiRenzo (3-for-3, run scored, three RBI) led the offensive onslaught for Nashua.

Knowles (2-for-4, two runs, RBI), McDonough (2-for-5, two runs, two RBI) and Smith (3-for-4, run, four RBI) had multiple hits for Post 21. 

Exeter looms next for Nashua after eliminating Portsmouth, 4-3, in the nightcap. Nashua and Exeter will meet at Holman Stadium for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch. If Exeter wins, the teams will play again at 7 p.m. for the title.

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