Dover sweeps by Nashua for state Junior Legion Baseball title

Staff photo by HECTOR LONGO Nashua's Caleb Hunter uncorks a throw from left field.

PORTSMOUTH – As good as the Nashua Junior Legion team as been here, playing with a lead in the state Final 8 Tournament, Post 124 was asked for the first time Wednesday to play from a substantial hole.

Nashua didn’t handle it well. The winner’s bracket winner at 3-0, dropped back-to-back blowouts to Dover, 8-2 and 15-3, the latter shortened to five innings, and settled for second place in the state.

Post 124 skipper Jeff Lunn was left to shake his head and wonder what had happened.

His team, so good in the tournament coming in, committed a whopping nine errors in the opener.

“We handed them at least half of the runs,” said Lunn, and that was a low estimate. “Nine errors and four hits just isn’t going to get it done.”

The reward, a day off on Monday, for three straight victories might actually have hurt Nashua, the No. 3 seed in District A coming in.

“We just never got it going,” said Lunn. “We just took our foot off the gas, and we relaxed a little bit too much.”

Through three innings of the opener, Dover led 3-0 on one hit, aided by four errors. But Nashua chipped away and got one back on a couple Dover errors.

But things went from tenuous to worse at 6-1 (with eight errors) in the sixth. Chris Keefe added a late RBI single, but it was hardly enough, despite the face Nashua outhit Dover, 4-3.

In the nightcap, Dover left no doubt, plating three in the bottom half of the first off Nashua starter Zach Rioux and never looking back.

“We had some walks and that gets guys on their heels,” said Lunn. “And things just got piled on.”

Rioux’s RBI single in the fourth got Nashua back to 4-2 in the third and things finally caved in.

Dover sent 14 men to the plate in the bottom half of the frame, breaking it open at 11-2.

Both teams had depleted pitching staffs at this point, but only Dover found the offense, belting 11 hits and taking advantage of 12 free passes.

Keefe, Matt Thibault and Kevin Collins had the other Nashua hits.

Lunn tried to focus on the positives of a 13-8 season and a second-place finish.

“These guys have been great, giving us everything we could have asked from them,” said Lunn. “They came together and really did a great job. It’s a terrific group of kids and it’s going to be fun watching them in the next couple years.”