Lebanon — Joey Dupree’s game-winning two-RBI line drive into right field, with two outs and the bases loaded trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday, was exactly what Lebanon High’s baseball team needed.
Then again, any kind of win feels like a weight lifted when you start the season on a losing streak.
Dupree, a sophomore, grooved a fastball off of Hanover relief pitcher Joey Perras, driving in Nate Gariepy and Derek Griffin for the 6-5 victory at Lebanon High, Lebanon’s first win of the spring.
Griffin saw the signal from Lebanon head coach Doug Ashey to round third on Dupree’s hit and knew to start sprinting. He beat the tag at the plate by about a step and a half to secure the win.
Afterward, in the cold and rain that persisted all afternoon, Griffin said the team has found its groove again.
“I really wanted to give us our first win,” said Griffin, who went all seven innings on the mound for the Raiders, allowing eight hits, five walks and four earned runs on 112 pitches.
“It means a lot. … I was frustrated. We hadn’t gotten a win when we were up against teams that we should have beat. We knew these guys were up there, but we knew we could beat them.”
Griffin also recorded three strikeouts in the victory. Ashey said using his junior starter the whole game was not the plan, but Griffin was adamant about staying in.
“My velocity was there,” Griffin said. “I couldn’t rely on the breaker, so I knew I only had to rely on the fastball. Once I got tired, I knew my arm would start getting tired and I knew I wouldn’t have a good breaking ball. … I just located, (had) focus, lots of breathing.”
Said Ashley: “I was going to yank him after six, to be honest with you. He said he wanted the seventh, so I gave it to him. … They showed no quit today.”
The Marauders (1-1) never trailed until Dupree’s late-game heroics after Hanover built a 4-0 lead in the second inning off of a string of hits from Braxton McNulty, David Seigne, Charlie Goodrich and Will Smith.
But the lead could have been bigger. Smith, Hanover’s top returning hitter from a year ago, had a chance to put the game out of reach with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, but he caught the bottom of a Griffin pitch and popped up to right field.
“You can’t expect the best hitter in the state to come up clutch every time,” Hanover second-year head coach John Grainger said. “He had a good at-bat, but unfortunately we didn’t come up on top.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon staged a comeback.
Gariepy drove in Hunter Boutin to put the Raiders on the scoreboard in the third, and an error by the Hanover defense left Lebanon trailing, 4-2. Hanover added another run in the fifth, but Dupree and Boutin got two back in the bottom of the same inning to cut the deficit to one, 5-4, where the game stayed into the seventh.
Hanover starter David Lehmann recorded three strikeouts in five innings of work. Perras entered the game in the sixth, giving up five walks and recording three strikeouts. The only hit Perras gave up was Dupree’s game-winner.
Smith finished the game with three hits and two RBIs in the loss.
“(Lehmann) threw well,” Grainger said. “We didn’t expect to use him as a starter this season. … He threw 3.2 innings of walkless, hitless ball against Pelham (in Hanover’s season-opener last week) and he did well (today).”
Lebanon started its season without starting shortstop Caleb Broughton, who will miss eight games after the Raiders’ senior violated the school’s conduct policy. Hunter Marsh has filled the fielding void in the meantime, but Lebanon has been left with a largely inexperienced lineup. If anything, Ashey said, a win makes his job a lot easier from here on out.
“Nobody wants to be 0-3,” Ashey said. “We’re playing through some inexperience and some youth, but the win is nice. It makes them see that the work that they’re doing is paying off. … I knew they were progressing. I knew they were getting better. But a ‘W’ will make them believe it a little bit easier.”
Both teams return to action on Friday, as Lebanon hosts Pembroke and Hanover hosts Hollis Brookline.
Josh Weinreb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.