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Anglers get on the good foot in NHCBL finals series opener

  • The Dover Greentoppers' Johnny Cantwell, left, looks up to home plate umpire Brewster Gove for the call after sliding home past Upper Valley catcher Jack Loftus, center, during a New Hampshire COVID Baseball League championship series game on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, at Lebanon High School. Cantwell was called out on the play.

  • Upper Valley Anglers pitcher Kyle Young delivers a first-inning pitch during a New Hampshire COVID Baseball League championship series game on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, at Lebanon High School.

  • The Upper Valley Anglers' Ben Williams, left, takes a jump off first base as Dover's Tahjmere Robinson pitches to the plate during the first inning of a New Hampshire COVID Baseball League championship series game on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, at Lebanon High School. Dover first baseman Chris Johnson is at right.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/15/2020 9:32:51 PM
Modified: 8/15/2020 9:39:19 PM

LEBANON — One small step for one man. One more win for a championship.

Submarine righty Kyle Young tossed four effective innings for the Upper Valley Anglers, his teammates backed him with a 10-hit barrage, and it all added up to a 15-4 win over the Dover Greentoppers on Saturday at Lebanon High School in the first game of the best-of-three New Hampshire COVID Baseball League championship series.

Young, who’d been given quick hooks because of wildness in his previous two postseason starts, shut the sixth-seeded Greentoppers (13-13) down after a three-run first inning. The Anglers answered that with eight runs in their half of the first and spent the afternoon extending that advantage in front of a sun-splashed crowd.

As impressive as Upper Valley’s offensive assaults have been of late, the key to Saturday’s win may have been a tweak coach Rob Woodward made in Young’s pitching motion. That helped the former Kimball Union Academy hurler record a half-dozen ground-ball outs and strike out two Greentoppers looking.

“His front foot was roaming, his landing foot,” Woodward said. “One time it would hit, then next time it was over to the right and then it might come back over to the left. That little part right there gives you three different pitches and locations. We had to get him hitting in the same spot every time, and it helped out today.”

Young is a pitching throwback, the kind of character usually found in sepia tones. A baggy uniform hanging from his tall frame, Young throws between sidearm and sub, at a velocity that encourages overconfidence from opposing batters.

The big righty had control issues in his two previous NHCBL playoff starts, hitting three batters in each and getting pulled early both times. Once through the first inning on Saturday, however, Young settled into a comfortable groove: Dover managed just one hit in the next three frames as the Anglers pulled away.

“He got a hold of what we were trying to put out there,” Woodward said. “He came in and gave us four great innings. And you know what? We hammered the ball today.”

Fourth-seeded Upper Valley (16-10) wasted no time jumping on Dover starting pitcher Tahjmere Robinson, batting around in the home first and scoring eight times in response to the Greentoppers’ opening three-run rally.

The Anglers’ Ben Williams and Nolan Gantrish both reached on Dover errors, and a walk to Keegan Silovich loaded the bases. Cleanup hitter Jack Loftus doubled home two runs, and Kobe Benoit produced two more on the Greentoppers’ third error in the Anglers’ first five batters, giving the hosts a 4-3 lead.

Trey Chickering and Williams threaded RBI singles after a Young single for a 6-3 cushion, and a center-field single from Gantrish — aided by an error in the outfield — upped the ante to 8-3 and brought an end to Robinson’s rough outing.

“We hammered the ball today,” Woodward said. “There’s just nothing else to say.”

Gantrish completed a three-RBI day with a run-scoring single in the third, Silovich following with a two-run single for an 11-3 lead. Upper Valley put the game in mercy-rule territory with a four-run fourth.

Leadoff hitter Williams scored three runs on a day when everyone in the Upper Valley lineup crossed home plate at least once. Silovich, Loftus and Benoit all drove in two runs. Harper Flint relieved Young after a walk to open the Dover fifth and locked down the victory.

The NHCBL is serving as a fill-in for the canceled season of New Hampshire American Legion baseball, a circuit that an Upper Valley-based team has never won. The opportunity to end that void and cap a jury-rigged summer comes on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Noble Pines Park in Somersworth.

Said Woodward: “Game one to us.”

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




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