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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Campbell facing Somersworth for Division III baseball crown

MANCHESTER – They’re back where they belong.

It really isn’t a high school baseball Championship Saturday if the Campbell Cougars aren’t involved. ...

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MANCHESTER – They’re back where they belong.

It really isn’t a high school baseball Championship Saturday if the Campbell Cougars aren’t involved.

“I think it’s unexpected with all the things that went on,” Cougars coach Jim Gorham said, referring to the dismissal of one of the team’s best players, Connor Sahlin, in the final week of the regular season. “There probably wasn’t anybody a week and a half ago who thought we’d be in the final game.”

That’s because now the only player on the roster with any title game experience is .500 hitting shortstop Christian Bourgea. But here will be leading the No. 1, 17-2 Cougars into the 10 a.m. Division III final on Saturday against No. 2 Somersworth, also 17-2.

It’s a rematch of the 2011 final, won by the Cougars, 4-2. This will be Campbell’s fifth title game, their first being in 2006, and they’ve split four. Their last appearance was in 2012, when they lost 4-0 to Hopkinton. Bourgea played on both the 2011-12 teams.

“When we get rolling, we just get rolling,” Bourgea said. “If we just keep doing what we’re doing, I think we can win it all.”

“Campbell’s a good baseball team, it’s been a good baseball team for years,” Somersworth coach Dave Kretschmar said. “They do things the right way. It’s a great program.”

The Cougars will likely send junior Ryan Glendye out to the mound, as he was 4-0 this season. Gorham feels the Hilltoppers have a “contact hitting” lineup, and he’ll expect Glendye to pitch to contact. Kyle Shaw will likey be the first reliever available; he beat Somersworth 11-0 on the final day of the regular season. But Gorham doesn’t expect that kind of game at all.

“If we can get through the first couple of innings, well, you know how those games go in Division III,” Gorham said. “They’re usually low scoring.”

Kretschmar wouldn’t tip his hand as to who he would throw, as all his arms are available except probably Drew Colbert, who tossed five innings in the semifinal win over Bow.

It most likely, though, will be senior righty Michael Paquette, who beat the Cougars 5-1 earlier in the season.

“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Gorham said. “He had great movement on the ball that day. Even Bourgea said he’d throw him pitch that he never saw before, like a college pitcher’s pitch. It just rode.”

But the Cougars will have to find a way, especially the first few hitters in the lineup, Gorham said. That would include the likes of Shaw, Bourgea, Zach Byers, and cleanup man Robert Baril.

“The top of the order has to hit for us to be successful,” Gorham said, “because it makes the bottom of the order a better bottom of the order.”

Whatever order Gorham uses these days, it seems to work.

“You got a kid out in right field (sophomore Michael Gray)who probably had his second varsity start,” Gorham said after just beating Berlin in the semis.

“A kid in left field (junior Justin DiBenedetto), probably has had four or five varsity starts.

Pull up a JV player (Grant Levasseur) in the last inning (of the semis) and he singles in his first varsity at-bat.

“Whatever kid I push the button on, they just seem to go out there and play hard for each other and that’s it. It’s a tough lineup.”

“I think it’s going to be an offensive game,” Berlin coach Nathan Roberge said. “And they’re (the Cougars) going to win it.”

Nobody’s going to rule it out, that’s for sure.

“Anything’s possible with these kids, you know?” Gorham said.