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Hanover Clipped by Portsmouth in D-II Semifinals

  • Hanover pitcher Moises Celaya stretches for an out-of-reach hit from Portsmouth in the fifth inning of the NHIAA D-II semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University in Hookesett, N.H., Thursday, June 7, 2018. Portsmouth won 5-4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover teammates console each other after their 5-4 loss to Portsmouth in the NHIAA D-II semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University in Hookesett, N.H., Thursday, June 7, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kegan Silovich, of Hanover, dives safely back to first base, covered by Peyton Goodrich, of Portsmouth, early in the NHIAA D-II semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University in Hookesett, N.H., Thursday, June 7, 2018. Portsmouth won 5-4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover pitcher Moises Celaya hugs his mother Maria Celaya following the Marauders 5-4 loss to Portsmouth in the NHIAA D-II semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University in Hookesett, N.H., Thursday, June 7, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, June 08, 2018

Manchester — The Hanover High baseball team’s bid to reach an NHIAA title game for the first time in 13 years ended on Thursday night with a 5-4 loss to top-seeded Portsmouth at Southern New Hampshire University. The fifth-seeded Marauders led, 4-1, after their fourth at-bat before the Clippers roared back for four runs and a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Hanover (13-6), which has never won a state title during its lengthy program history, graduates six seniors, five of them starters. A crop of notable talent should rise to the varsity ranks in the next few years, but that was scant consolation for the Marauders after stranding 10 runners and allowing Thursday’s Division II semifinal to slip through their fingers.

“Three times we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” said third-year Hanover coach John Grainger, whose team had the bases loaded with no outs during the fourth inning but didn’t score. “We played a pretty clean game and the one error we had didn’t cost us. The throw down to second, though, that gave them the winning run.”

Grainger was referring to the fourth inning, when Portsmouth used a leadoff double and a pair of two-out walks to load the bases while trailing, 4-1. A bloop single into shallow right field made the score 4-2.

A Max Malilla single up the middle scored two more runs for a 4-4 tie. The throw from the outfield overshot the cutoff man and bounded all the way to Jack Loftus, the catcher. He, in turn, threw to second base to get the batter, who never slowed down while turning the corner at first. He was safe at second and the game’s final run scored on the play.

“He blocked the throw well, but he should have just ate the ball,” Grainger said of Loftus.

The game featured two of the state’s better pitchers in Hanover’s Moises Celaya and Portsmouth’s Trevor Van Allen. The former allowed six hits and five runs, all earned, while striking out four batters and walking eight during a six-innings tint. Celaya entered the game having allowed just 16 walks all season.

Van Allen, a 6-foot-7 hurler who’s headed to play for the University of Rochester (N.Y.) next season, began the night 7-0 with an 0.31 ERA. He was the Division II player of the year and surrendered five hits and four runs, three of them earned, while striking out four Marauders and walking six.

“Both kids deserved to win, but I think our kid deserved it more,” Grainger said.

Hanover also had runners at second and third with no outs during the fifth and had the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first when Loftus grounded out to the pitcher to end the game. The Clippers (17-1), however, were a formidable foe. Portsmouth will play Goffstown on Monday in its third consecutive title game and is seeking back-to-back crowns.

Hanover took a 2-0 lead after two innings. Kegan Silovich led off with a walk and Celaya drew another with one out. Loftus delivered a bases-clearing double into the left-center field gap, Celaya sliding under leaping catcher Jacob Grant.

Portsmouth halved its deficit in the bottom of the second, using three walks and two hits and leaving the bases loaded. Hanover went up, 3-1, during the third inning. Portsmouth’s center fielder, Calvin Hewett, dropped a towering fly ball by Joey Perras, who took second base when Van Allen threw away a pickoff attempt. Perras scored on Silovich’s single.

The Marauders moved ahead, 4-1, during the fourth frame. Celaya led off with a single and was pushed along on a walk to Braxton McNulty. Another free pass, this one to Loftus, loaded the bases and Celaya scored on a Nolan Gantrish ground ball.

Portsmouth staged its rally for a 5-4 lead after four innings, but Hanover loaded the bases with no outs during its fifth at-bat. A Celaya ground ball to third base was heaved home and then down to first, resulting in a double play and McNulty struck out, ending the inning.

The Marauders left two runners stranded during the sixth inning, after which Van Allen had thrown 123 pitches and was done via the pitch-count rule. Celaya struck out the first two batters of what would be the final three batters he faced (118 pitches) and shortstop Gantrish recovered from a fielding bobble on a ground ball to throw out a diving Malilla for the final out.

Portsmouth brought on reliever Oscar Lalime to face the middle of Hanover’s lineup in the seventh. Silovich and Marcus Hampers struck out, but Celaya, a four-year varsity player, singled up the middle and McNulty, the order’s seventh batter, drew a walk.

Loftus, however, ended the game on the next pitch when he grounded to the right side, Lalime fielding it and beating him to first base.

“When you go back three years ago, our seniors took their licks then and three of them batted below .200 for the season,” Grainger said. “When I saw them, though, I knew they were our future. They might not have been our best players at that point, but they needed to play to get us here to this stage, tonight.”

Notes: Hanover’s current athletic director, Mike Jackson, and his soon-to-be successor, Megan Sobel, attended the game. Jackson is retiring after more than two decades in the position. … Hanover deployed a shift with three infielders to the right of second base when Hunter Leroux-Porter batted during the fifth inning. He walked. … Grainger said he thinks Celaya, who’s headed to Maine’s Colby College to kick for the football team in the fall, could also be a closer for the Mules’ baseball team. … Hamper was hit in the head with a pitch during the sixth inning, but immediately jogged down to first base. … Portsmouth’s lone loss was a one-run result vs. Oyster River during the season’s third game. … The Clippers have scored seven or more runs 10 times this spring. … Hanover entered the night having won seven times in its last eight contests. … Sam Gallimore pinch-ran for Celaya in the seventh inning. … The game lasted 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.