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Newfound Left-Hander Stymies Stevens Again

Claremont — Newfound pitcher Dahlton Fairbank has found a friend in Barnes Park.

Last spring, the left-hander pitched an eight-inning 3-2 win over Stevens in a New Hampshire Division III first-round game at the Claremont field and returned Tuesday with a three-hitter in a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals.

In the win last year Fairbank threw 180 pitches (12 strikeouts, 10 walks) — a stat his coach, Shaun Bean, disputed Tuesday — but this time he was much more efficient as he needed only 80 pitches, walking just one and striking out another 12.

“I think he likes pitching here,” said Bean.

The win was vital to both teams as the season heads into the home stretch. Stevens (8-4) started the day tied for fourth with Laconia while Newfound (9-4) was in ninth place. The Division III race is crowded with 12 teams with four losses or less.

Stevens, which does not play the top four teams — Winnisquam, Somersworth, Campbell and Laconia — during the regular season has homes games with Kearsarge on Thursday and Monadnock on Friday before closing out the season with contests at Hillsboro-Deering and Fall Mountain next week.

Positioning for the playoffs is vital as the top 12 teams avoid a first-round game, while the 13th-through-20th-place teams for the final four positions.

While Fairbank was dazzling, Stevens hurler Chase Hussey deserved a better fate, as four of the five runs he allowed were unearned. Hussey threw 112 pitches, allowing five hits with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He hit one batter.

“New we’re going to have to find out what we’re made of,” said Stevens coach Paul Silva. “We have to find out if we can play the type of baseball I know we can play.”

A long triple to left by Ryan Tanguay and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Woodman produced the only Stevens run and it gave the Cards a 1-0 lead after two innings. Stevens placed two runners on with one out in the fourth and fifth innings, but couldn’t cash in.

Meanwhile, the Newfound offense began catching up with Hussey, who needed some help from his defense and didn’t get it. In the fifth with two down, Fairbank singled and scored on a Nick MacDonald triple. MacDonald later scored on an error. In the sixth and seventh, three more unearned runs followed.

“He (Fairbank) made the pitches and we didn’t make the plays,” Silva said. “We just have to put more balls in play. When you put balls in play, you have a chance.”