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Monday, April 9, 2012

Pitching depth still key to local title hopes

Alvirne High School baseball coach Mike Lee was sizing up Division I title contenders. When he got to one team, he simply wrote in an e-mail: “Pitching, pitching, pitching.”

It’s usually not a complicated equation in high school baseball. The teams with the deepest pitching usually win, just like at all other levels of the sport.

That certainly helped Nashua High School North – the team Lee was talking about – win the Division I title a year ago, and it aided Campbell in its Division III title run.

This year? It could be the same. The Titans and Cougars are certainly title contenders again this season, and don’t be surprised if Hollis Brookline, with several players back from a 10-win team, make some noise in Division II.

“North with their pitching,” Merrimack coach Ryan Anderson said when asked about who the top contenders may be in Division I. “They just keep reloading. Will does a great job over there, they have that feeder system with the North Little League.”

The Titans have three hurlers teams would crave: seniors Jake Mellin and Matt Lipkind, and junior Kyle McCarthy. Titans coach Will Henderson couldn’t disagree, but added there’s a lot of components that go into a season.

“We will rely on our pitching depth and strength of Mellin and Lipkind’s arms to carry us early,” Henderson said. “We take some time to find ourselves and understand roles. Our challenge will be to find consistent offense as our two, three and four hitters from last year’s team graduated.”

They may want to look across town at Bishop Guertin, which surprised a lot of teams last year in getting 12 wins and have one of state’s top hitters in Joe McCarthy. But now teams are more aware of the Cardinals.

“That may be the biggest thing,” second-year head coach Scott Painter said. “We’re not going to shock anybody this year.”

It’ll be a fresh start at Nashua High School South with first-year head coach and former major leaguer (as well as Nashua Pride pitcher) John Roper taking over for longtime head man B.J. Neverett. Roper has 12 players back from a 10-win team led by a pretty good senior pitcher in Jared Maloney.

Merrimack won 13 games a year ago, but fell in the first round as did South. But the Tomahawks return one of the state’s best pitchers in senior Tom Hudon and could contend again. Lee’s Broncos, meanwhile, will be young, with just one senior starter and two freshman starters. With a small roster of just 12, depth will be a factor.

Keep an eye on the Cavaliers in Division II, a division dominated by the Portsmouth Clippers. They have two top guns, senior Mike Chase and senior transfer Nick Siegal, who, as head man Ryan Coulter said, “can shut people down. … This is more pitching than we’ve ever had. We have nine guys who can throw.”

Incidentally, the last team to beat Portsmouth? Try the Cavs, in 2007.

Souhegan just missed the tourney last year, losing out on tiebreakers, and have ace Terry Dugdale returning as well as seven other starters Milford also has seven starters returning, hoping youth has now become experience.

Campbell enters the post Cullan Baker Era with nine starters still returning, including a one-two pitching punch of sophomore Connor Sahlin and senior Travis Manning. But the Cougars, head coach Jim Gorham says, still need more depth.

In Division IV, the Warriors return several starters, led by key pitcher Tony Graziano, from last year’s 9-7 team that eventually lost to Colebrook in the quarterfinal.

DIVISION I

ALVIRNE

COACH: Mike Lee (29th year)

2011: 5-14, missed tournament.

RETURNING STARTERS: Dakota Williams, jr. dh; Robbie Flohr, so. p; Pat Emanuelson, jr c.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Corey Landry, sr. cf.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Mike Frassica, sr. p-1b; Mike Sirvydas, jr. p-ss; Aaron Kellett, jr. p-of-inf; Dan Teague, jr. of; Luis Matrille, jr. of-c; Tyler Brown, so. p-2b; Derek Hudson, fr. p-1b; Greg Amanuelson, fr. 3b-c.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “We have eight pitchers on our 12-man roster,” Lee said. “How fast they develop will be the key to our season.”

BISHOP GUERTIN

COACH: Scott Painter (2nd year).

2011: 12-7, lost to Timberlane in first round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Joe McCarthy, sr. p-1b; Nate Chartrand, sr. 2b; Dennis Abelleira, sr. inf; Alan McQuarrie , sr. c.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Nolan Cornell, sr. 3b-of-p.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Mat Morais, jr. p-3b-of; Jeff Lunn, jr. p-1b; Jon McQuarrie, jr. inf; Clint Fontanella jr. p-of; Colin Reed, sr. of.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “I think we have to follow on the coattails of what we did last year,” Painter said. “Throw strikes, get ahead, and hitting-wise I think we’ll be a bit improved.”

MERRIMACK

COACH: Ryan Anderson (8th year).

2011: 13-5, lost to Keene in first round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Jackson King, sr. cf; Tim Michaud, sr. p-1b; Tom Hudon, sr. p-1b.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Ian Theriault, sr. 2b; Pat Korianski, sr. p-of; Corey Hutchinson, sr. inf; Alex Krysiak, sr. p-of; Dylan O’Brien, sr. of.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Brenden Holt, jr. c; Matt Wojciak, jr. p; Mikey Gasper, so. c-inf; Brandon Rivard, sr. c; Brett Glendye, jr. inf; Taylor Black, jr. inf.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “Besides our top pitchers, we need somebody else to step up on the mound,” Anderson said.

NASHUA NORTH

COACH: Will Henderson (8th year).

2011: 19-4, state champions.

RETURNING STARTERS: Louis Tarantino, sr. cf; Kelvin Rodriguez, sr. ss; Jake Mellin, sr. p-1b; Matt Lipkind, sr. p-of; Matt Fortin, jr. c.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Shannon Martin, sr. 2b.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Parker Jamerson, sr. of-p; Dylan Kost, sr. inf-p; Kyle McCarthy, jr. p; Brendan Robbins, jr. of.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “We’ll rely on our pitching depth,” Henderson said. “Our challenge will be to find consistent offense.”

NASHUA SOUTH

COACH: John Roper (1st year).

2011: 10-9, lost to Manchester Central in first round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Joe Haftel, sr. c-3b; Nick Reed, jr. of; Jared Maloney, sr. p-of.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Cam Covert, sr. of-p; Ted Christie, sr. p-inf; Sean Barrows, sr. ss; Josh Oliver, sr. of; Brendon Dupont, sr. c-p; Frank Guarino, sr. 3b; Don Maffee, sr. c; James Buckley sr. 1b; Nick Penkala, jr. p.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Juan Cruz, jr. 1b; Matt Byers, jr. inf; Joe Gouveia, jr. p-c.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “We need to make some plays, so it’s defense and pitching,” Roper said. “We have a team of guys who can do that, and you can never have too much pitching.”

DIVISION II

HOLLIS BROOKLINE

COACH: Ryan Coulter (14th year).

2011: 10-7, lost to Coe-Brown in first round.

RETURNING STARTERS: Jeremy Heard, jr. dh-p; Stephen Rossetti, sr. 2b; Colin Pellerin, sr. of; Kyle Gervais, sr. 3b; Mike Chase, sr ss; Mitch Frick, jr. c; Jake Lavoie, jr. inf-p; Tim Rencken, jr. p-1b; Sean Connors, sr. of.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Garrett Malagodi, sr. 2b; Brendan Flaherty, sr. 1b; Dan Buxbaum, sr. p-of.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Nick Siegal, sr. p; Austin Pigott, so. ss-p; Cam LaFleur, so. of-p.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “As usual, it’s pitching and defense,” Coulter said. “If we can do that, and our hitting is pretty good, then we have chance.”

MILFORD

COACH:- Bret Jepson (6th year)

2011: 6-10, missed tournament.

RETURNING STARTERS: Brett Stagnone, jr. inf-p; Logan Danforth, jr.inf-p; Sean Stroehlein , sr.of-p; Jordan Walker, sr. inf-p; Nick Webster, jr. of-p; Cam Douglas, jr. c; Ryan Britton, so. of-p.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Connor Borne, jr. of; Joe Pellitteri, jr. of; Kevin Poulter, sr. inf.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Colin Chaput, sr. inf; Hunter Philbrick, sr. inf.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “Last year our young players gained a lot of experience and should be ready to contribute more this year,” Jepson said.

SOUHEGAN

COACH: Bill Dod (20th year)

2011: 7-9, missed tournament.

RETURNING STARTERS: Tim Beliveau, sr. 1b; Chris Chininis, sr. cf; Terry Dugdale, sr. ss-p; Robert Graham, sr. 3b-p; Tyler Hansis, sr. 3b-p; Eric Howard, sr. of-p; Robby McCormick, sr. of-p; Brandon O’Connell, sr. inf-of.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Cameron Crook, jr. c; Tyler Ford, jr. 2b.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Peter Bennett, jr. of; Connor Cinque, jr. p-1b; Austin Cote, jr. 2b; MichelEhrenstein, jr. 1b-p; Seth Learner, fr. ss-p; Andrew MacDonald, jr. c; Ben Osterholtz, fr. 2b-p.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “It’s a mix of youth and experience,” Dod said. “The team possesses strong unity and each player brings their own competitive nature which will be instrumental.”

DIVISION III

CAMPBELL

COACH: Jim Gorham (11th year)

2011: 16-4, state champions, beating Somersworth.

RETURNING STARTERS: Nick Freson, jr. 1b; Cade Lacroix, jr. 2b; Jackson Musco, jr. lf; Sean Gray, sr. cf; Cristian Bourgea, so. rf; Cody Caron, jr. c; Chruck Neild, sr. dh; Connor Sahlin, so. p; Travins Manning, sr. p.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Vinnie Bucci, so. inf-p.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Christian McKenna, so. inf; Zach Byers, fr. of.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “We have to find pitching,” Gorham said.

DIVISION IV

WILTON-LYNDEBOROUGH

COACH: Paul Trombley (fifth year).

2011: 10-8, lost to Colebrook in quarterfinals.

RETURNING STARTERS: Tony Graziano, sr. p-inf; Kyle Jennings, sr. inf-p; Willie Tremblay, sr. of; Justin Thibeault, sr. of-p; Patrick Martin, so. inf-p; Kyle Pratt so. inf-of; Brendon Hussey , so. inf-c.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Ethan Howard, fr. inf-of; Connor Melrose fr. inf-of.

KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL SEASON: “We lost four one-run ball gmes last year so hitting will be the biggest key,” Trombley said. “We have to find a way to score more runs.”