Nashua South ousted from baseball tourney by Dover

Staff photo by HECTOR LONGO South shortstop Dante Young makes the play and guns down a Dover runner at first in the Panthers 8-2 playoff loss at Dover Thursday.

DOVER – Get to Dover righty John Cantwell early, or don’t get him at all.

The lesson got punched home on Nashua South Thursday here as the No. 10 Panthers tumbled out of the Division I playoffs, 8-2, in their opening round battle with the seventh-seeded Wave.

Cantwell teetered on disaster for one frame. The Panthers loaded the bases on singles by Alex Amigo and Hunter Routhier, plus a walk to Mason Matylewski.

South would score twice on infield outs from Seth Marcano and Jason Smith, but two just wasn’t what the Panthers were looking for.

“We wanted to be aggressive, score runs and we did,” said South coach James Gaj. “A lot of things went our way that inning.

“Bases loaded, nobody out, you want to at least push around three. We got two. I think our guy was safe at first (Ryan Lopez on a very close play). We didn’t get that call, because of that we didn’t get that third run, and that was big.”

Cantwell, who walked three and struck out six, pitched the next half-dozen frames like a man with a second lease on life.

“Any time you’re in an elimination game, you want to get as many runs as you possibly can no matter what,” said Gaj. “He was good, Dover is very simple, and simple things make you win games. You put the ball in play and you throw strikes.”

He would allow just one more hit, a sixth-inning line by Marcano, but that was it.

“We won the first inning, and we lost the last six, that just kind of happens sometimes,” said Gaj.

Meanwhile, Dover found its hitting shoes, helped along by some shoddy South defense.

Three different Panthers would toe the rubber on the day, and none were done any favors by the defense, which committed five errors.

Four of the eight runs were unearned. Starter Zach Finkelstein took the loss, going two-plus frames.

“They put the ball in play, they struck out just once,” said Gaj. “We put the ball in play too but they made the plays, and we didn’t.

“That was our Achilles heel. The five errors killed us, absolutely killed us.”

Aiden McDonough tied things in the bottom of the second with a two-run double. Dover added four more runs in the third with Alex Schlapak, Jake Carey, Cantwell and Axel Post driving in the runs.

South finished the year with a slew of sophomores gaining valuable experience in a 10-11 campaign.

“I’m very happy with the way we progressed,” said Gaj. “People thought we were a 3-to-5 win team, and we ended up getting 10. We doubled what everyone thought.”