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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Campbell baseball team tops Somersworth, regains Division III title

MANCHESTER – Campbell High School baseball coach Jim Gorham is big on teaching life lessons.

After his team edged Somersworth 3-2 on Saturday for the Division III title, he talked about the obstacles the Cougars overcame and what was really important down the road. ...

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MANCHESTER – Campbell High School baseball coach Jim Gorham is big on teaching life lessons.

After his team edged Somersworth 3-2 on Saturday for the Division III title, he talked about the obstacles the Cougars overcame and what was really important down the road.

“You don’t have to drive a Mercedes,” he said. “An old Buick will do.”

What type of car would he say would fit his top-seeded, 18-2 Cougars, who celebrated the program’s third championship at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium?

“An Escalade,” Gorham said. “That’s a family car, isn’t it?”

The word “family” was the operative theme for these Cougars, who say they truly came together as a team a couple of weeks ago after one of their best players, Connor Sahlin, was dismissed.

While Gorham gave the directions, the driver of the Cougar Escalade had to be senior captain Christian Bourgea, whose one-out triple in the sixth inning off Somersworth nemesis Mike Paquette ignited the game-winning rally. Bourgea then scored on Bob Baril’s bloop hit just over shortstop to snap a 2-2 tie.

Bourgea, a .500 hitter, had struggled against Paquette during the regular season.

“He’s the toughest pitcher I’ve faced this year,” Bourgea said.

Bourgea had been held hitless in his two previous at-bats against Paquette, but he crushed a ball to left-center in this one.

“He just left that one over the plate a little bit too much and I just jumped on it,” Bourgea said.

Right after that, Baril, who had tripled and scored the game’s first run in the second inning, lofted a blooper on a pitch on which Hilltoppers shortstop Ryan Cordeiro had run in. Cordeiro couldn’t reverse himself fast enough, the ball dropping into short left field to score Bourgea with the championship-winning run.

“I’m glad it dropped in,” Baril said. “I didn’t think it would drop in. This is amazing; we worked hard all year for this.”

“As Phil Esposito said, ‘It’s not how hard you shoot, it’s where you shoot,’ ” Gorham said of the former Boston Bruins great. “It wasn’t hard, but well placed.”

“We were still in a spot where we were in the baseball game,” Somersworth coach Dave Kretschmar said. “It’s unfortunate we’re in a position where a little pop fly lands behind shortstop. That’s a routine pop fly that drops. That’s really the difference in the game.”

The other Campbell hero was pitcher Ryan Glendye, who finished the season 5-0 as he checked the second-ranked Hilltoppers (17-3) on four hits, allowing just one earned run, striking out five, walking one, hitting two and tossing two wild pitches.

“He stays within himself,” Gorham said. “From time to time you can see he’s a very, very emotional kid who’s tough on the mound like guys from the 1950s and ’60s. Ryan’s all emotion.

“When he keeps his control and keeps his emotions down, throws strikes, keeps the ball down, he’s almost impossible to hit.”

“It was tough, not having a big lead,” Glendye said. “But my boys fought. When they scored, it just fueled the fire inside of us a little bit.

“I felt confident from the get-go. Every once in a while it slipped, and people could tell. But in the end I just got ground balls for my guys, got easy pop-ups for them, and that’s how you win baseball games, by letting your defense make plays.”

Campbell grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second when Baril led off against Paquette (six innings, one earned run, five hits, six strikeouts, zero walks) with a triple. He scored when right fielder Peter Drakopoulos misplayed Vinny Bucci’s sinking liner. Bucci was sacrificed to third by Austin Baker and scored on Justin DiBenedetto’s groundout to first.

The ’Toppers broke through on Glendye for a run in the third on Jeremy Jacques’ RBI single after Cordeiro reached on an infield hit and Chris April was plunked by a pitch.

Somersworth tied it in the fifth when Cordeiro singled, advanced on a Glendye error and wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Paquette.

But all that did was set up Bourgea’s heroics. Gorham had told him on the bus on the way to the game that he needed a big hit from him, and he got it.

Much to the chagrin of the ’Toppers, who have lost three of the last four Division III title games, including another to Campbell in 2012.

“We know he’s a good hitter,” Kretschmar said of Bourgea. “We had handled him for the most part up until that spot. Then he smoked that ball.”

Was there any doubt that he would?

“The only people who really believed are these kids,” Gorham said. “These kids really believed they could do this. And then they went out and did it.”

And what an Escalade ride it was.