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Hanover baseball extends winning streak to 7 games

  • Stevens catcher Eric Peaslee loses the handle on the ball as Hanover's Sam Sacerdote slides in safely during their game in Norwich, Vt., on May 3, 2021. Hanover won, 11-3. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Hanover pitcher Wes Stocken and catcher John Hill talk on their way back to the dugout after a successful inning against Stevens in Norwich, Vt., on May 3, 2021. Hanover won, 11-3. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Stevens' Cody Pellerin barely misses a pitch as Hanover catcher John Hill prepares to grab it during their game in Norwich, Vt., on May 3, 2021. Hanover won, 11-3. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 5/3/2021 9:57:16 PM
Modified: 5/3/2021 9:57:15 PM

NORWICH — If ever there was a baseball season where being good may be good enough, John Grainger thinks this one could be it.

His Hanover High squad won’t really know what’s waiting for it come the NHIAA Division II state tournament, even as the sixth-year coach surveys his peers for information. So Grainger’s gang just goes about doing what it does fundamentally well and looks no further than the next foe.

After a rough first four batters, Hanover starting pitcher Wes Stocken settled down, recorded 14 straight outs and guided his mates to an 11-3 win on Monday at the Dresden Athletic Fields diamond. The hosts methodically dismantled the young Cardinals (2-2) after falling into a quick 3-0 hole, ultimately ringing up 11 hits against four Stevens pitchers.

Monday evening’s D-II standings listed seven teams without a loss. Of those, Hanover tops the chart at 7-0.

“I don’t know what Wes’ ball does, but it doesn’t go straight,” Grainger said afterward. “He’s got a very good slider, curveball, whatever you want to call it. So it’s good they responded. They came back. They put a run on the board right away. Baseball’s won on big innings, and we put a couple big ones up there.”

Hanover used a three-run second to complete its early rally and put the game in its pocket with a four-run sixth. Leadoff hitter Ben Williams doubled, tripled, scored twice and drove in three runs to power the home team, which also had two-hit games from Sam Sacerdote, John Hill and Mason Gantrish.

“The first four batters of the game, my approach was mainly off-speed, then work in the fastball,” said Stocken, who struck out five, walked one, gave up five hits and threw just 65 pitches over six innings. “After we made a few plays that we could have made a little bit better, I tried to reverse my approach: start fastball, then work curveball. That seemed to work the rest of the way.”

The Cards got off to an ideal start against Stocken, who had difficulty early with a somewhat muddy mound, and a Hanover defense that needed a wake-up call.

Zack Bundy reached on an error, Dylan Chambers singled to deep short and Ty Theriault worked a four-pitch walk. After cleanup hitter Owen Taylor pulled an 0-2 pitch to right-center for a two-run double, Grainger walked to the bump to offer a calming message to Stocken.

“He’s a pretty emotional player,” Grainger said. “He’s really into it. In this game, you have to try to stay on an even keel, because you can’t be that up for seven innings in a row. I told him to settle down. He’d throw a good pitch and go, ‘Yes!’ and I was like, ‘Cut it out; you can’t be that engaged.’ ”

A delayed double steal against a sleeping defense provided a third Stevens run, but Stocken shut the visitors down after that. The Cards didn’t get their next hit until a Bundy bloop single in the fifth, by which time Hanover had the lead for good.

“Owen’s the only player I have that has any varsity experience coming into the season,” Stevens coach Paul Silva noted. “We knew we were going to have some growing pains with some younger guys getting experience at the varsity level, but I’ve been really pleased with the way we’ve hit the ball so far this season. Then (Stocken) settled down and pitched a good game.”

Williams doubled and scored on an RBI single from Hill in the home first to get Hanover on the board. The sophomore speedster’s two-run triple in the second tied the game at 3-3, and a Sacerdote infield hit plated Williams with the eventual winning run.

Williams and Hill made it 6-3 with RBIs in the fourth. Gantrish’s run-scoring single to right — one of plethora of opposite-field connections for Hanover — upped the ante in the fifth. Casey Graham and Tom Davis drove in runs in the home sixth.

Stocken and Sacerdote give Grainger interchangeable options on the hill. Williams has speed to burn on the basepaths. The roster is junior-laden but filled with experience. Hanover just doesn’t know is what the rest of the state possesses. Yet.

“I’ve been emailing coaches to try and figure out what the state looks like,” Grainger said. “The general consensus I’ve gotten so far is that it seems to be kind of a down year talent-wise.

That’s good for us. We’re good. It’s a good year to be good.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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