Routhier paces Nashua South 5-3 win over North

Staff photo by TOM KING Nashua South third baseman Ryan Lopez tags out Nashua North's James Bolton in the first inning of South's 5-3 win over the Titans Friday at Holman Stadium.

NASHUA – Maybe it’s in the genes.

Nashua South baseball coach James Gaj has always expected big things out of Panther players with the last name Routhier.

Joe Routhier was a starting shortstop and pitcher for South in a couple of previous years, and his younger brother Hunter is now a Panther mainstay. He delivered a 5-3 win over rival Nashua North on Friday at Holman Stadium with his bat and his arm.

“One thing about the Routhier kids, and we’ve had two of them, when they come in, they’re not afraid of anything,” Gaj said. “They’re not afraid of anything at all.”

Routhier delivered the big hit the Panthers (4-2) had been missing most of the week, a two-run single up the middle that snapped a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth.

Also, the senior came in the top of that inning in relief of capable South starter Andres Hulfachor (seven K’s in four innings) and picked up the win, surviving a one-run seventh in which he had to retire two of North’s best hitters at three-four, Trevor Kelly and Pat McCarthy, with the tying runs at at second and third and one out.

It was a frustrating loss for the Titans (5-2), who had the leadoff man reach base in five of the seven innings but only managed three runs.

“We’ve got to capitalize,” Harris said. “We did an unbelievable job getting the leadoff man on. In baseball, when you get the leadoff man on most innings, you win.”

That didn’t happen despite the fact North has scratched out runs in the first and third on Kelly and McCarthy RBI groundouts to grab a 2-0 lead. But South tied it on one hit in the third off Titans ace C.J. Barrett thanks to a bases loaded walk and wild pitch.

Barrett lacked his usual command/control, walking eight. Routhier’s two out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth spelled his exit.

“I was sitting fastball because (Barrett) was having trouble throwing strikes,” Routhier said. “And I got it. I just tried to put it in play.”

“C.J.’s our guy,” Harris said. “I will call him out a little bit, he needs to be better. He had eight or nine walks today, and that kind of just can’t happen. We need him to attack a little more. Saying that he grinded, and was gutsy.”

The Panthers tacked on an insurance run (5-2) in the sixth on Jacob Smith’s RBI single,but it still didn’t help them avoid drama in the seventh.

But North helped bail him out of trouble when one potential run was cut down at the plate on an infield grounder. After a James Bolton RBI double made it 5-3 and put runners on second and third, Routhier, according to Gaj, rejected the idea of taking him out and then backed it up by fanning Kelly and getting McCarthy to ground back to the mound.

“I was having trouble throwing my fastball,” Routhier said. “I was leaving it up, they were hitting it well. I went to the curve ball and it was working well.”

“That’s his bread and butter pitch,” Gaj said. “He can throw his curve for strikes, and when he does, he’s hard to hit. It was a great day for Hunter.”

The two teams will face each other again next Friday night. They both avoided playing a second game later in the day (North at Dover, Concord vs. South at Holman) thanks to the correct forecast of rain. The Panthers, meanwhile, needed to get a win sometime on Friday after two straight losses.

“Yes we did,”Gaj said. “They came back, they played baseball today, that’s what I’m happy about. These guys don’t quit.”

Especially with a Routhier around.