A different kind of season for Alvirne baseball

Staff photo by TOM KING Alvirne baseball coach Mike Lee, left, talks to his entire team following a loss to Nashua North last week. The Broncos are struggling this season, having dropped their first six games.

It’s been a long time.

Alvirne High School baseball coach Mike Lee’s 35th season is reminding him of, well, his first or second.

The Broncos, after bowing to Keene on Tuesday, are 0-6 on the season, and unless things dramatically change, one can envision them missing the Division I tournament for the first time in ages.

“Probably when I first came here in the 1980s, it was then like it is now, you’re absolutely right,” Lee said. “It’s double digit every ball game. We’re battling to stay in games.”

They have done a good job of battling, but at some juncture the game gets away from them. The Broncos were down 9-0 after the first inning Tuesday against the Blackbirds, but to their credit, battled all the way back to tie things at 9 before Keene scored four in the fifth.

Last week against Nashua North, Alvirne’s Corey Cormier and North’s C.J. Barrett were locked in a 1-0 pitchers duel before the Titans broke things open in the later innings en route to a 13-1 win.

The constant are the numbers being put up by the opposition – 71 runs in six games. Alvirne had just seven before the scored nine times in Tuesday’s loss.

It’s a young Bronco team, with some seniors who hadn’t had key roles before. Hayden Callery, Ryan Ruigrok, Zac Reddig and John Trzcienski are senior mainstays, but the Broncos have half the roster that hadn’t seen much if any varsity time.

And,part of the problem is, not much summer diamond time, either.

“We’ve got a few young guys out there and some juniors and seniors,” Lee said, “but we’ve got four guys who played summer baseball. Four.”

How much has that hurt? A lot. Hudson Post 48 has no Senior American Legion team, but players can go elsewhere to play. Options are there.

“It’s not that there’s no summer program, it’s that guys aren’t playing baseball,” Lee said. “Now our freshmen is a good group, we do have guys who are serious about baseball and are playing in the summer. But if you’re going to come out here and compete. … Last year I had a similar group, but two guys are playing college baseball. I don’t have that (now).”

Basically, Lee says Alvirne will just have to stay the course, and use this year as a springboard for the next couple of seasons. The 70 percent rule brought an end to the 16 team tournament so postseason spots are limited. Realistically, that’s not really on the Broncos’ minds right now.

“We’re working to get better every day, and they are getting better,” Lee said. “We got better (last week) against Memorial, we got better (vs. North). The scores aren’t going to look like it, but we as coaches are seeing that they are getting better. They’re working in practice”

Lee is adamant that the goal of his program is to be able to compete in Division I. When that doesn’t happen, then you may see a change.

He doesn’t foresee that happening anytime soon because of what he sees at the lower levels.

“We’ve got a good group of freshmen coming up, they’re going to compete,” Lee said. “Our middle school was in the (Tri-County) championship game against Bedford last year. And Bedford was huge. Both teams lost one game, and we beat them last year. We only lost one kid to (Bishop) Guertin. So I’m not seeing (a lack of numbers).”

Instead, Lee is seeing the memory of his first couple of years running the Broncos’ program. For now, it’s understandable, but he certainly doesn’t want to go back to the future for long.

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The Merrimack High School baseball team just can’t catch a break. The 2-5 Tomahawks were all set to play their first game on their home field on Wednesday, and Mother Nature said no, as their game against Bishop Guertin was rained out. Now the Tomahawks will hope to make their home debut Friday vs.Exeter at 4, but showers are in that forecast as well.

What’s delayed the use of the field? Poor drainage, for one, and some outfield damage due to heavy machinery parked in right field and right center field that was doing work on the elementary school there that had a bat infestation.

“There was a lot of damage from the snow and the late winter,” Merrimack athletic director Mike Soucy said. “And that equipment that had to be parked there destroyed the grass. So when there’s no grass to absorb the water, it was also a problem. … I walked it (on Tuesday) and it’s now playable, but not ideal.”

The Tomahawks have played games on opponents’ field – Tuesday vs. Nashua North a prime example – when they would be designated as the “home” team and bat last.

But, as Soucy said, it’s also impacted practices, as the Tomahawks haven’t been able to practice outside regularly, either, since their field wasn’t available.

“I feel for our kids, they’ve been resilient,” Soucy said. “And the coaching staff has been really patient, I give them a lot of credit. The JV field will be ready early this week.

“Every school has had field issues, but we should finally have home baseball.”

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It’s almost Battle of the Bridge time again for Nashua High Schools North and South. Now the Titans and Panthers are slated to meet in baseball at Holman Stadium on Thursday, weather permitting, and the softball teams have already played, but they’ll both do it again for what will count for the Battle of the Bridge standings next week.

There are sub-varsity games that are included, but for varsity play, the schedule starts on Thursday, May 3, with South at North in girls tennis, and the two teams play in a lacrosse doubleheader at Stellos Stadium, girls at 5 p.m., boys at 7 p.m. On Friday, May 4, the boys tennis teams square off while the baseball teams have a rematch at Holman Stadium at 7 p.m.

The track and field teams will match up the following Tuesday, May 8 at North. North is the home team in all of the BB events this time.

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The Bishop Guertin baseball team last week prior to their game at Holman Stadium vs. Merrimack honored the memory of the late Brian Kinney, who played on the 1991 BG baseball team but was tragically on the United Airlines Flight 175 out of Boston that was hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. A plaque in his honor will be placed in the Cards’ Elliott Field dugout, with the end of the inscription reading “It is through Brian’s compassion for others, his commitment to excellence, and his love of the game of baseball that he is being honored.”

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Besides the Battle of the Bridge events next week, there’s one more key high school athletic contest to mark down on the calendar: BG boys lacrosse at Pinkerton Academy on Monday at 5 p.m.

It’s usually the annual game to see who gets the top seed in Division I, and ironically the last couple of years the regular season game winner has lost to the other in the finals.

For BG to be unbeaten going into Monday it will need to beat Nashua South at 6 p.m. at Stellos on Thursday; Pinkerton interestingly enough has a game vs. Medfield, Mass.on Sunday at home at 5 p.m. and before that the Astros visit Souhegan on Thursday night at 7.