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Summer baseball notebook: Anglers 17Us adjusting to challenging campaign

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/25/2020 9:05:23 PM
Modified: 7/25/2020 9:05:21 PM

LEBANON — An adult voice called out from the Upper Valley Anglers 17Us’ baseball dugout on Monday night. It arrived after two batters, two errors, three stolen bases and a wild pitch, but the two-word message underscored the team’s season to date.

“Stay positive,” the voice recommended.

While the Anglers’ 19U team has played reasonably well in its New Hampshire COVID Baseball League campaign this summer, the 17U squad has had its struggles. Its arrival came out of an abundance of interest in the Anglers as a substitute for the canceled New Hampshire American Legion season. Organization came about quickly, and the team found a spot in the New England Independent Baseball League.

But the 17Us are the youngest team in the NEIBL’s Varsity division, playing foes who are much older and more experienced. It’s showed through an 0-10 start.

Coach Chauncey Wood is seeing progress, however.

“It’s easy to get their heads down; we’ve been focusing on trying to keep their heads up, keeping them in the games, making the next play,” said Wood, Lebanon High’s third-year junior varsity coach. “Right now, that’s all we can do. If we can get them to make the next play, we can get them out of there.”

With Chris Bahara and Mark Pollard serving as assistants, Wood has taken a patient approach to the 17Us. Four of the Anglers’ first five games resulted in run-rule defeats, but they’ve only lost twice in that fashion since.

Wes Stocken (Hanover High) provided a bright light at powerhouse Portsmouth last weekend, throwing five innings of two-run ball before the hosts pulled away late for a 9-0 win to cap a doubleheader sweep.

Two days earlier, on July 16, Upper Valley nearly erased a three-run deficit in the seventh inning, leaving the tying and winning runs on base in a 4-3 loss to Keene.

The lineup slapped 13 hits off three different Salem pitchers in Monday’s defeat. Wood credited Jon Carrier (Lebanon) for quickly adapting to playing first base, noting he’s also hit well all summer. Hanover and Lebanon players dominate the roster, but Fall Mountain, Newport and Cardigan Mountain also have representation.

“Obviously, we want to get a W,” Wood said. “These kids deserve it. They’ve put in a lot of work.”

Upper Valley faces a busy next few days, hosting Keene for a doubleheader on Saturday, visiting Hollis-Brookline on Sunday and returning home for a makeup with Merrimack on Monday.

UV 19Us near playoffs: Eight of the 11 teams in the NHCBL will make the postseason. The Upper Valley Anglers’ 19U squad hasn’t clinched yet, but they likely will in the next couple of days.

The Anglers went into Friday night’s bout against Lakes Region at Laconia’s Robbie Mills Park carrying an 8-7 record. That left Upper Valley three games up on ninth-place New Hampshire Prospects Red (4-9) with five contests left on the Anglers’ schedule.

Upper Valley has just one home game remaining, a Wednesday visit from Seacoast Pirates Silver at Lebanon High School. The Anglers visit Nashua on Saturday, NHP Red on Friday and Dover on Aug. 2. The NHCBL playoffs start on Aug. 7.

Junior Nighthawks flying: The White River Junction Junior Nighthawks are in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye in the upcoming Vermont Summer Baseball League postseason.

Entering Saturday’s doubleheader at Rutland, the Junior Nighthawks (10-3) sat 1½ games above Essex and South Burlington (both 8-4) for the third and final bye slot. Everyone in the league makes the postseason, but the top three seeds get to sit out the first round. WRJ also has the motivation of knowing the semifinals and finals will be staged at its home Maxfield Sports Complex diamond on Aug. 1-2.

White River Junction wraps up the regular season at home against Brattleboro (5-5) on Tuesday night.

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

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