Hollis Brookline, Bow would love to repeat classic
Can they play it again?
Monday’s Division II baseball title game between Hollis Brookline and Bow High School at Manchester’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium was a true classic, right down to one last pitch.
But now all the signs will look to next season with perhaps the hopes the two teams can do it again. There was a lot of mutual respect between the two, on social media as well as in their post-game comments. Remember, the two teams lose a combined five seniors, so there’s an enhanced chance, on paper, anyway, that they could fight their way through the tourney gauntlet and try this again.
“We’ll get prepared to play again, and do it again,” said HB coach Jay Sartell, who had a remarkable year as a head coach.
“That’s a stud team,” Bow coach Ben Forbes said of the Cavs. “They’re well coached, got some really great ballplayers, and can hit the ball well.”
His Falcons will have as many as seven seniors next season, including the title game hero, Riley Elliott, who was already looking ahead.
“It’s a dream come true,” Elliott said. “I can’t believe I did it with my teammates. It’s an amazing team and I can’t wait to be back with them next year.”
The Cavs’ senior losses are key in terms of talent and leadership, however – shortstop Joe Messina, catcher Brandon Hsu, and third baseman Max Mello.
“Three seniors, and they’re very big to the team,” Sartell said. “They offer leadership. But I think you look at teams up and down the division, that’s what it is. Seniors lead their teams. You live and die sometimes by your best seniors. Lot of parity in the division, one kid one way or another can make a big difference.”
Messina feels the Cavalier program is in great hands.
“There are I don’t know how many guys that are going to take this program to a new place,” he said. “This is a new beginning for the Cavalier baseball program.”
HB’s top two pitchers, junior Henri Boudreau and Brandon Hsu – both of whom pitched Monday – are back. If everything stays the same, the Cavs will have six seniors next season, including Boudreau and leadoff hitter Grant Snyder, who had a remarkable five RBIs combined in the semis and finals.
“They’re going to come after it next season,” Messina said, “and they’re going to do something special again.”
Don’t discount Souhegan as a team that could contend. The Sabers, who finished 8-10 overall, only graduate three, and will have slugger Daniel Trzepacz leading a cast anchored by as many as five seniors. Milford just missed out on the tourney and lose some key seniors, but next year’s group will be led by junior first baseman Joe Shepard.
In Division III, Campbell should have, for the first time in the last three years, the same head coach for the second year in a row as Drew Gora also coaches girls basketball at the school and has been a fixture. They’ll also have as many as seven seniors back, led by .500 hitter and talented pitcher Keegan Mills.
In Division IV, Wilton Lyndeborough has two Brennans returning, Troy and Sean, while Neal graduates. That should help them be in the discussion.
It’s always tough to project, and the Cavliers are a prime example of that. They hadn’t been contenders in several years, and with just three seniors and a first year head coach, they weren’t really in the Division II discussion. As Sartell said Monday, “No one expectued us to be here.”
What of Division I, especially locally? If you look at the division as a whole, Londonderry was one of perhaps five or six that many looked at as title contenders. The Lancers lose just five seniors from a team that won the school’s fifth baseball crown.
Bedford is coming off its fifth straight finals appearance, and that wasn’t expected this year. That streak (five seniors were key) could end, but then again, the Bulldogs have established a trend, right? Pinkerton is another team many will watch, as the Astros lose just
So let’s take a quick local look. Bishop Guertin had a group many thought had title ability, its best in recent years, but next season they still will have the returning Gatorade Player of the Year in pitcher-first baseman Brett Anderson. But the Cards could feel the sting of the loss of 11 seniors.
It was a rare year to see both Nashua North and South not make the tournament. Next year could be different. South will look to pitcher Andres Hulfachor taking the next step and the Titans will have to plug more holes left from graduation.
Keep an eye on the Alvirne Broncos, who have had a young core for the last couple of non-tourney seasons, and could blossom next year, led by catcher Evan Beals, who will be a junior. At times the Broncos started five sophomores and at least one freshman.
Merrimack coach Kevin Moyer will have one of his better pitchers, Jack Goodwin back, and the Tomahawks will continue to try to build a winning culture to get back to the tournament, which they haven’t been a part of since 2016.
If you’re looking at the 2019 fall season, it all begins with high school football practices allowed to begin on Friday, Aug. 16, exactly three weeks from the season openers that are set for Friday, Sept. 6. The Stellos Stadium opener will be that night with Portsmouth at Nashua South at 6:30 p.m.
All other fall sports will start practices on or around Monday, Aug. 19. Most local Division I soccer teams will open up on Tuesday, Sept. 3 and field hockey teams on Sept. 4, and volleyball/cross country that first week of September as well (volleyball that Friday, the 6th).
The non-Division I soccer teams likely will start late the previous week, Aug. 29 or 30.