Titans can’t close it out in tough 6-5 quarterfinal loss to Tide

Staff photo by TOM KING Concord catcher Curtis Stadnicki waiits for the ball to tag out Nashua North runner Trevor Kelly during the Titans' tough 6-5 quarterfinal loss in Concord on Saturday.

CONCORD – A bargain, in some ways.

Saturday’s Division I baseball quarterfinal between the upstart 12th seeded Nashua High School North Titans and the heavily favored No. 4 Concord Crimson Tide was really three games in one.

Unfortunately for the Titans, the third game was the one that sent them home for the season, 6-5 thanks to three Tide runs in the bottom of the seventh. Griffin Gilbert’s walk-off RBI single was the final dagger.

That bottom half frame started with North having won Game Two, up 5-3, with reliever and potential hero Varun Lingadal on the mound. However, he walked Concord’s Zach Miles on four pitches and then the next pitch gave up a moon shot over the center field fence to Kurtis Standicki, tying things at 5.

“It happens,” North coach Zach Harris said. “The ball just flies around here, it always does.

“That’s baseball. Baseball’s a funny game. … the game can change, and it changed twice.”

“If you don’t believe, you don’t give yourself a chance,” said Concord coach Scott Owen, his team set to face No. 1 Bedford in Wednesday’s semifinals at Holman Stadium. “And the kids obviously believed.”

“When I hit it, I knew it was gone,”Standicki said. “When I went up I was trying to be aggressive and hit the first pitch.”

But Game Three was not over. Enter Titans reliever Pat McCarthy, who plunked Jacob Knowles with his first toss. An Eric Sullivan sacrifice bunt and Gilbert rope to right center later it was over.

Game Two: That belonged to the Titans, who were trailing 3-0 before they got five runs off Tide starter Jacob Knowles and reliever Sullivan. Trevor Kelly knocked in two runs with a single (but also got thrown out at the plate), Casey Lane tied it with an RBI groundout but the big blow was a two-run home run to right off Sullivan by Lingadal.

“Varun pitched the best I’ve ever seen him pitch, and credit to him,” Harris said. “I told him, ‘We wouldn’t have been in this situation without you.’.”

Game One: Concord’s Ryan Tessier hit North starter Joe Berman’s first pitch for a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, and the Tide got two more in the second on Alex Buteau’s sac fly and an RBI double by Zach Miles that chased Berman in favor of Lingadal.

Also, the Titans had the bases loaded in the second and came up empty, and had a run taken away in the third when the umpires ruled Kelly tagged up too early on a Will Brooks fly) going to third (he reached home when the ball was dropped in the exchange).

Each team had 10 hits. Thus the Titans finish 10-12, but enjoyed their first tourney win in five years.

“We’re changing the culture here,” Harris said. “We start playing baseball like we played the last two games we’ve got a bright future.”

“They’re a tough team, they’re not going to give up,” Standicki said of the Titans. “But we believed we could win this game.”

Or for that matter — unfortunately for North — take two out of three.