Concord offense wakes up, eliminates Portsmouth from Legion tourney

NASHUA – Bryan Caruso knew his Concord Post 21 baseball team could hit better than it had through its first three games of the American Legion senior tournament.

Faced with elimination, Post 21 did just what its coach expected on Monday, pounding out 10 hits and taking advantage of 12 walks to beat Portsmouth 9-5 to advance to the final day of the tournament. Concord will play Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Holman Stadium, against either Londonderry or Goffstown.

One night after stranding 14 runners in a 4-1 loss to Goffstown, Concord left 13 on against Portsmouth, but not before putting together a few big innings.

After Post 6 tied the game at 1 in the fifth, Concord answered with a three-run sixth. And when Portsmouth came back with three runs in the seventh to make it 5-4, Concord blew the game open, putting up four runs in the eighth.

"The momentum changed when we gave up those three runs, but we went into the next inning and got it back," Caruso said. "That’s really important, that our guys went out there and got it quick."

Momentum swung back in Concord’s favor during Portsmouth’s rally.

Post 6 had already scored three times in the seventh and had runners at the corners with one out when coach Scott Pafford called for a suicide squeeze. But Caruso felt the bunt might be coming.

"We had a feeling it was coming," Caruso said. "We called a pitchout and we were."

Portsmouth’s Billy Hartmann got caught halfway down the line, and Concord catcher Bradon Smith ran him down for the second out of the inning. David Drouin then got Connor McCauley to ground out to end the inning.

"I give Concord all the credit in the world," Pafford said. "We still needed stops and we didn’t get stops. They just kept coming."

Eddie Dionne got the win in relief, pitching 1 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. Drouin pitched the final three innings, giving up a run on five hits and two walks.

Trailing by five in the ninth, Portsmouth got two runners on base, but pinch hitter Dylan Crosby grounded out to end the game.

"We never say die and we’re not going to give up," Pafford said. "That’s what we expected."

Concord had to wait for the results of Monday’s second game to find out its opponent on Tuesday. A Goffstown win would eliminate Londonderry and mean Concord would have to beat Goffstown twice on Tuesday. A win by Londonderry would mean Post 27 would play Post 21 at 4 p.m. and the winner would play Goffstown for the title at 7 p.m.