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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dover tops Derry for state American Legion baseball crown

By JOE MARCHILENA

Staff Writer

NASHUA – The top of Derry Post 9’s lineup led the way throughout the American Legion Senior Tournament.

When Aaron Denis found out he’d be pitching against Derry in the championship game Tuesday, he was well aware of who he was trying to shut down. ...

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NASHUA – The top of Derry Post 9’s lineup led the way throughout the American Legion Senior Tournament.

When Aaron Denis found out he’d be pitching against Derry in the championship game Tuesday, he was well aware of who he was trying to shut down.

The Dover Post 8 righty won this battle, as he held Derry’s top four batters to four hits and one run, and Dover got just enough offense for a 3-2 victory, giving Post 8 its first senior title since 2000.

Denis, who was making his first appearance on the mound after starting every game in center field, went the distance, allowing two runs on five hits, two walks and three hit batters. That included plunking Derry’s Jamie Collins and Chris Gerossie in the first inning, which may not have been his strategy, but it ended up working out.

“They stepped up for the tournament,” Denis said. “There’s teams that stay consistent, but then there are those teams who understand how big it is to be in the state tournament. I think that was one of those teams.”

Collins and Gerossie went deep during Derry’s 9-5 win over Sweeney Post 2 in the first game of the day, and for the tournament, the two combined to go 17 for 45 (.378) with five doubles, three home runs, 12 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

“They’ve been our rocks all season long and come up with hit after hit when we’ve needed it,” Derry coach Dylan Mullin said. “Those guys have been great for us. They set the bar for what we expect out of a player in Derry.”

After playing Derry twice during the regular season, and Sunday in the tournament, Dover coach Jake Bishop wanted a fresh arm against Post 9.

“We set it up so we could have him for that championship game,” Bishop said of Denis. “Aaron has been the guy who we can count on to give us nine full (innings) and there was no way he was coming out of that game. If I tried, I would have had to pry him out.

“That’s the fourth time we’ve played them this year and the first two times, I thought we handled them well. But this tournament, they brought their bats. We knew that if Aaron could keep those first four from getting good wood on it, they go as their first four go, and if Aaron could keep them off balance, we should be OK.”

Josh Yaratz took the loss for Derry as he allowed three runs – one earned – on seven hits and four walks in 51⁄3 innings. Yaratz and the Derry defense did a good job of keeping Dover close, as Post 8 left two on in the first and left the bases loaded in the second. For the game, Dover stranded 11 runners, and when Riley Cahill came on in relief of Yaratz, he slammed the door, allowing just one two runners to reach in 32⁄3 innings.

“We were hoping for three or four (innings) and (Yaratz) ended up giving us 51⁄3,” Mullin said. “He stepped up huge on short rest. That was the first Riley had pitched all year, including high school. He’s coming off an arm injury and he gave us 32⁄3 of relief and a chance to win the game. It was a great job of our pitchers to step up.”

Dover put the winning run across in the sixth, when Jared Gagne singled with one out, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Ryan Hayden followed with a walk, and after Ryan Cordeiro struck out, Robby Sheldon hit a grounder to third that Mike Albetski threw away, allowing Gagne to score to make it 3-1

Derry got the run back in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Collins, but Cordeiro made a great play on a foul popup by Gerossie and Gagne ran a long way to catch a fly ball to center by Chace Spears.

“I think every game, from Saturday on, was down to the end game,” Bishop said. “We’ve tried to stay focused for a full nine innings, stay in it for nine and see what happens.”