Baseball: Concord, Bow, others have high hopes for postseason play

  • Concord catcher Kalan Gaudreault slides in safely as the throw goes over Windham second baseman Jake Sullo’€™s head during the Crimson Tide’s season-opening 8-4 victory on April 11. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/1/2022 5:37:42 PM

Another high school baseball regular season come and gone; debates over who will make it to the playoffs settled. The conversation now shifts toward who will make it to the championship game.

Not only does the capital area boast two reigning champions with Concord and John Stark, but it also claims a final four team from last season with Hopkinton in Division III.

All three return to the postseason, and more join them. A look at the 2022 bracket:

DIVISION INo. 5 Concord (13-6)

The Crimson Tide enter the state tournament fresh off a win against Exeter on May 26 where their intangibles as a team were tested yet again. They’ll host No. 12 Windham (10-10) in the preliminary round on Thursday at Memorial Field.

Concord’s game against Windham is the second meeting between the two programs this year. The Tide won the first bout, 8-4, on April 11.

DIVISION IINo. 4 Bow (12-4)

The Falcons came out the gate and sputtered to an 0-2 record but now hold the No. 4 seed in the tournament. That’s a testament to the notion that championships aren’t won in April.

Interestingly enough, Bow’s first-round game is against one of the teams that beat it during the first two games: No. 13 Pembroke. The Spartans capitalized on errors and stellar pitching and won, 7-3, but this is a different Falcons team.

They followed that April loss with a five-game win streak, and when that was snapped, they created another five-game win streak.

No. 7 John Stark (11-5)

As the reigning D-II state champions, John Stark finds itself in the same tournament but a different position than it was a year ago. All season long, it heard how it was a different team, and yet all it did was win baseball games.

The Generals have a young but talented core, and it’ll get put to the test when they welcome No. 10 Merrimack Valley to Weare on Thursday. They previously beat the Pride, 8-1, in Penacook on April 20.

No. 10 Merrimack Valley (8-8)

Merrimack Valley started off as one of the best teams in the division with a 6-3 record through its first nine games. But the back half of the schedule provided difficulties, including an uncharacteristic, error-filled 8-4 loss to Kingswood.

But the Pride can use the playoffs as an opportunity to refresh. Who better to do that against than the defending champions on the road?

No. 13 Pembroke (6-10)

Pembroke’s early-season win against Bow proved to be replicate as it only won five more the rest of the season. Albeit, it’s a tough division and the Spartans know that; they also aren’t ones to make excuses. Their first win of the season was in Bow, so it’s not unfeasible that their first win of the postseason could happen there, too.

But for that to happen Pembroke will have to rely on the exact same formula: strong pitching, capitalize on errors and utilizing intelligent base running.

DIVISION IIINo. 4 Belmont (13-3)

It’s been a season of streaks for coach Matt LeBlanc. Belmont won its first three games, then lost its next two. From there, the Red Raiders created their best run of the season in a six-game run of brilliance where they outscored opponents, 56-20. They’ll see one of those six teams in their first-round game when they host No. 13 Conant on Thursday. Belmont won the regular season game, 6-1.

No. 8 Hopkinton (13-4)

Hopkinton enters the postseason with momentum on its side after a dramatic walk-off 7-6 win against Gilford in the May 27 season finale.

While the win was important, playing ahead will be even more critical, and the Hawks look to keep their first-round opponent, No. 9 Campbell, in check. They won the regular season encounter, 5-2, on May 6.

No. 11 Bishop Brady (8-8)

The Giants return to the postseason and look to have a better go this year than last season’s 3-2 loss to Conant in the opening round. Brady will travel to No. 6 Gilford for its first-round game, the first meeting between the programs this season.

No. 12 Winnisquam (8-8)

The Bears missed the tournament last season, but a 3-3 run down the stretch helped solidify their spot in the playoffs.

Winnisquam will travel to No. 5 Berlin in a rematch of April 18’s game, where the Bears lost, 7-6, on the road.

DIVISION IVNo. 8 Concord Christian (10-6)

The Kingsmen recorded double-digit wins to earn home playoff game. They closed out the season as winners in three of the last four, and look to pick up win No. 11 when they host No. 9 Wilton-Lyndeborough. This will be the first game between the two programs this season.

No. 11 Pittsfield (9-9)

The Panthers return to the playoffs and look to do more than a first-round exit like they did a year ago in a 10-6 loss to Newmarket. Pittsfield will travel to No. 6 Colebrook on Thursday for the schools’ first meeting this year.

Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.

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