HS Notebook: Hanover’s Grainger cream of the baseball crop

  • Hanover High baseball coach John Grainger throws batting practice for the team in Norwich, Vt., on March 30, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file — Geoff Hansen

  • Sophia Brackett

  • Charles Greene

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/12/2021 11:00:13 PM
Modified: 6/12/2021 11:00:13 PM

WEST LEBANON — Although his season ended sooner than he’d planned, Hanover High baseball coach John Grainger closed out the NHIAA Division II campaign as his league’s coach of the year.

The Baseball Coaches Association of New Hampshire bestowed the honor upon Grainger last week when it announced its all-state teams. The sixth-year bench boss guided Hanover to a 13-1 record this season, a campaign marred only by a preliminary-round state tournament exit to a very good John Stark team last week.

“You’ve got to have good players to get it,” said Grainger, who earned the honor for the first time. “I think it’s nice to get recognized, but you really can’t do it without good players and a good coaching staff around you.”

Since taking over for retired longtime coach Mike Jackson, Grainger has used methods learned during a stint coaching at Colby-Sawyer College to build Hanover into a revolving threat. Grainger also can call upon his playing experience as a Keene State College catcher for reference.

“I did a lot of things that we did (at Colby-Sawyer), especially with the pitching staff,” Grainger said. “I have a pretty specific way about teaching hitting.

“But I think the most important thing is to get the kids to buy in with what I’m selling. I think I’ve been able to do that. I think the day I can’t do that is probably the day I need to hang it up.”

The D-II all-state team includes two of Grainger’s sophomore standouts, Sam Sacerdote and Ben Williams. Both are playing summer ball with a travel organization near Boston (New England Ruffnecks U16); the all-purpose Sacerdote will return to Hanover next spring, but Williams — a speedy, ground-swallowing center fielder — is transferring to Avon Old Farms in Connecticut.

“I’m hoping that, collectively as a group, they’ll get better and try to fill that void,” Grainger said of losing Williams. “When I look at what I have to do, he scored two runs a game for us, on average. I didn’t realize that until we had our banquet on Sunday.”

The D-II second team included Stevens’ Owen Taylor, Lebanon’s Braeden Falzarano and Hanover’s John Hill. The Raiders put three players — Calvin Bates, Jon Carrier and Zach Howland — on the third team with Stevens’ Dylan Chambers and Hanover’s Casey Graham. Lebanon assistant coach Paul Page was named the D-II junior varsity coach of the year.

Mascoma had three contributions on the D-III all-state roster. Brothers Josh and Mike Evans made the second team, and freshman Alex Shareiko landed on the third team.

Drop the Puck ... Finally: After losing last summer’s game to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers for the annual Twin State Hockey Classic are looking forward to a June 26 encounter between Vermont and New Hampshire senior all-star teams at Stowe Arena.

The games raise money for Make-a-Wish Foundation chapters in both states. Three of the four rosters were announced on Monday.

Hanover will send four players to the New Hampshire girls roster, with Natalie Morhun, Sophia Brackett, Sage McGinley-Smith and Rebekkah Rudd joining Makayla Maccioli, a Stevens High senior who played on Lebanon’s three-school co-operative team. Woodstock is contributing Andrew Gubbins, Riley Shepherd and Charles Greene to the Vermont boys.

No Upper Valley girls made the Vermont roster; organizers are still finalizing the New Hampshire boys roster.

The Twin State Classic will stage the girls game at noon and the boys at 4 p.m.

News-n-Notes: Newport High senior Maddie Miller was among 12 recent recipients of a $1,500 scholarship from the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Foundation recently. A basketball captain and two-time all-stater in field hockey, Miller will attend UConn with plans to study biochemistry and pre-med. ... After doing postgraduate years at Maine’s Bridgton Academy, two former Hanover High baseball players have committed to college programs. Infielder Nolan Gantrish is headed to Ohio Wesleyan, and catcher Jack Loftus will compete for Western New England in Springfield, Mass. ... Organizer Star Johnson has set Saturday as the date for his annual Byrne Cup Twin State All-Star Lacrosse Games. They’ll still be at Hanover’s Merriman-Branch Field, with the girls at 12:30 p.m. and the boys at 3 p.m., but rosters are still evolving, he said this week.

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

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