Lakers drop heartbreaker in NHIAA D-IV baseball semis

  • Sunapee's Sean Moynihan.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/4/2019 9:59:30 PM

LACONIA, N.H. — He doesn’t mean it to sound arrogant, but facts are facts: Pittsfield High baseball manager Rob Stockman and his Panthers didn’t spend much time this spring playing from behind.

Knowing their fundamentals made it possible to do it when it mattered.

D.J. Zensky delivered Ben Stopyro with a one-out RBI single over diving Sunapee right fielder Drew Clifford in the bottom of the 11th inning to give second-seeded Pittsfield a 4-3 win over No. 3 Sunapee on Tuesday in an NHIAA Division IV semifinal at Robbie Mills Field. The Panthers (19-1) never led until after Zensky’s drive landed in the grass beyond Clifford’s grasp and barely a foot inside the right-field line.

Pittsfield rallied from a 2-0 deficit Kyle Stockman’s on two-run home run in the sixth inning. The Panthers came back again in the 10th, with Stockman again playing hero with an RBI single for a 3-3 tie.

The opening game of Tuesday’s semifinal doubleheader featured 364 total pitches and took four minutes shy of three hours to complete. And neither combatant deserved to lose.

“It’s a shame that somebody’s got to lose,” Sunapee baseball coach Tom Frederick said. “There were a lot of great plays by each team. I thought we were one pitch away from winning it at one point. Just a couple of little things that we could have done better, and sometimes it comes down to that.”

Freshman Gavin Bedell, Pittsfield’s third pitcher of the afternoon, earned the win with one inning of three-up, three-down relief. Laker sophomore Harper Flint took the hard-luck loss, getting out of jams in the ninth and 10th frames with runners in scoring position before the Panthers finally broke through.

“I’m exhausted,” Rob Stockman said. “They battled. I was a little nervous about that. We’ve only been behind once all year, and to come back twice … Kyle stepped up big-time with two big hits, and D.J., obviously. The lower end of the lineup got on for the guys at the top of the lineup, and they finally got it done.”

Pittsfield and Sunapee (16-3) took turns clobbering each other in the regular season, the Panthers taking an 11-1 victory in late April and the Lakers returning the favor, 11-3, on May 18 at Colby-Sawyer College. Pittsfield held a 3-2 lead late in that contest before surrendering a nine-run sixth-inning Sunapee rally. There would be no such onslaught this time, not with a championship date on the line.

The Lakers nicked Pittsfield starter Devin Bedell with single runs in the third and fourth innings, driving the right-hander’s pitch count up and quickly tiring him.

With two outs in the third, Sunapee’s Matt Nangeroni singled to center and Darren Hulton walked to bring Flint to the plate for a single to left that gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead. Pinch hitter Sean Moynihan doubled the advantage one frame later, hitting a nubber down the first-base line that scored Lane Smith from third.

Moynihan was Kyle Stockman’s first foe of the afternoon. He dominated for the rest of his term on the mound, holding Sunapee to just four hits over 6⅔ innings before tiring in the 10th after 99 pitches.

“Kyle threw when he had to come in,” Rob Stockman said. “Devin, I didn’t think he had his stuff today. They just battled.”

Gabe Hastings twirled a 64-pitch gem through five innings but started to tire in the sixth. A one-out walk to Zensky brought up Kyle Stockman, who blasted a hanging curveball over the large left-field fence for a 2-2 tie.

Sunapee took its final lead in the 10th off Stockman. Flint reached on a one-out error, Jackson Cooney singled off the third-base bag and Jordan Chappell doubled to the left-field fence, delivering Flint.

Pittsfield didn’t wilt, with Stockman’s RBI single scoring Gavin Bedell in the 10th to tie. After a walk and single to open the 11th, Sunapee catcher Hulton gunned down a Panther at third on a weak bunt attempt. An error loaded the bases, and Zensky sent his winning hit sailing into the air and out of the Lakers’ reach.

“No one should hang their head,” Frederick said. “There were so many great plays out there to get out of jams and some clutch hits. It was just a seesaw battle. They, unfortunately, ended up on the winning end of it.”

Fungoes: Pittsfield will face No. 4 Newmarket in the D-IV final at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Manchester. ... Someone in the clan of Sunapee’s Sean Shisko arrived in a large, black four-wheel-drive pickup truck with the family name on the license plate and I IDENTIFY AS A PRIUS slapped across the rear window. … The Robbie Mills press box includes nine holes on the rear wall — some framed, some still with baseballs lodged and at least two of them autographed — where foul balls have made their mark. … Winnipesaukee Muskrats manager Mike Miller, an assistant baseball coach at Massachusetts’ Dean College, served as operations manager for the doubleheader. … Either the Lakers or Panthers made the D-IV every year between 2011 and ’17 before last June’s Littleton-Newmarket title tilt.

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

Correction

Pittsfield's Kyle Stockman hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Stockman's game-tying hit. This story has also been updated to indicate that Pittsfield will face No. 4 Newmarket in the D-IV final at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Manchester. A previous line in the Fungoes section incorrectly said who was to play Newmarket.

 

 




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