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The York County Community College Division I Baseball Preview

By Pete Tarrier, 04/10/23, 6:15AM EDT


The Londonderry Lancers are your pre-season #1 (photo by Cindy Lavigne)

 We are excited to kick off expanded baseball coverage to start the 2023 season on New Hampshire Sportspage.

 This is the first of four previews you will see in the coming days, followed by our Game of the Week video highlight coverage all season long, which kicks off this afternoon in Windham as the Jaguars host the Concord Crimson Tide on opening day. 

 The familiar theme as I spoke to coaches around the division is that pitching is going to be the deciding factor in who takes home the hardware in June at Delta Dental Stadium, and don’t be surprised if we see a title game rematch.
 Our preview is brought to you by our longtime friends and partners at York County Community College! in Wells, Maine!

 The York County Community College admissions team will be visiting high schools throughout the spring including; 

Exeter High School - College Fair, 20-Apr from 8 am - 11 am
Winnacunnet High School - College Fair, 16-May from 12:30-1:30pm
Spaulding High School - College Fair, 23-May from 12-2pm


Pre-Season Top 10
1. Londonderry
2. Pinkerton
3. Portsmouth
4. Bishop Guertin
5. Bedford
6. Goffstown
7. Concord
8. Nashua South
9. Exeter
10. Nashua North

 Lurking outside the Top 10: Winnacunnet, Dover, Windham, Keene, and Salem

 Londonderry was the team that always came up first when I asked D1 coaches what teams they think are the teams to beat this year. 

 The Lancers lost a 2-0 decision to their rivals from Pinkerton last year in the State Championship game, and they return arguably two of the Top 5 pitchers in NH in Connor Fennell (2nd team last year) and Michael Crowley (3rd team last year).

 Fennell, a righty who will take a PG year at Winchendon Prep after graduation, has multiple schools interested, and Crowley, a lefty, is headed to Assumption in the fall.

 Then there’s senior Kevin Rourke (1st team last year), who is going to UMass-Lowell.

 Coach Brent Demas is also very high on Londonderry sophomore Brady Gillis. “We have a very seasoned pitching staff, so Gillis will probably swing back and forth with the JV team just to get him consistent innings.”

 Demas is entering his 23rd season as Londonderry coach. The four-time Championship coach of the Lancers said the team spent a lot of time in the off-season focusing on defense and base running hoping that will help put them over the top.

 Demas loves the leadership captains Fennell, and football QB/baseball catcher Drew Heenan bring to the team.

 “You know Drew from football and what kind of player and kid he is."

 Another multi-sport Lancer athlete we’ve covered before is Tyler Miles, who won’t be able to play this spring because of an ACL injury suffered in football, but “we just love having him around,” his coach said.

 The lineup will feature leadoff hitter Jayden Hamilton, #2 hitter Owen Carey (1st team last year as a sophomore) with 3rd hitter Johan Pena and sophomore clean-up hitter and all-name teamer Jet Jones.

 Another player-coach Demas wanted to mention was OF and backup catcher Liam Stott. 

 What can you do for an encore after winning it all in 2022? That’s the question for the Pinkerton Astros, who open the 2023 campaign as the #2 team in our preseason rankings, despite losing five starters, including 2-time D1 Pitcher of the year Liam Doyle and D1 All-State 1st teamer Tom Rioux to graduation.

 The cupboard isn’t exactly bare at the largest school in New Hampshire, according to 11th-year head coach Steve Campo who guided the team to the 1st baseball Championship at Pinkerton since 1986.

 “We celebrated winning the title throughout the summer, but around November, when we did our ring ceremony, we turned the page to this year.” 

 It helps when you have a 6’8 junior in Jackson Marshall who was voted All-State 1st team as a sophomore, mainly playing OF for last year’s loaded Championship team. “Jackson is a hitter. He flat-out hits baseballs,” Campo said. “He hits for power, he hits for contact”.

 Of course, Marshall can also shoot it and has great footwork for a big man, as was seen when he was leading the Astros into the basketball Championship game at UNH just a few weeks ago.

 Marshall will move to first base this season and also see time on the mound.    

 Another reason for optimism in Derry is the return of Jacob Albert, who was All-State 1st team as a junior. Albert will man CF for the Astros, utilizing the blazing speed that makes him such a good football running back.

 As if that’s not enough, Cole Yennaco was All-State second team last year as a junior…he’ll serve as team captain and will be behind the plate for the most part, but you can also expect him on the mound this season for Pinkerton.

 Senior second baseman Lorenzo Corsetto, a 3rd-year player, is also back and expected to help lead the team both on and off the field. 

 Pinkerton is also counting on sophomore SS Brendan Horne to keep improving.

 Horne became the starting SS and leadoff hitter for the Championship Astros last year and hit .320 as a freshman. 

 One area of concern for Pinkerton to start the season is a lack of experienced pitching. “We don’t have much proven pitching at the varsity level simply because we have had veteran guys here the last couple of years,” Campo said.

 “But these guys have worked hard and they are eager for their opportunity.” Look for Leo Boucher, Marshall, Yennaco, Garrett Hammer, Casey Watson, and Jacob Adrian to get their chances. 

 When trying to figure out just how good this edition of the Portsmouth Clippers baseball team will be, most people look to a long history of past success under 28th-year head coach Tim Hopley as a good indicator of that continuing in the future.

 The Clippers went 19-2 overall last year and made it to the Division 1 semifinals, where they fell to Londonderry.

 So even though Portsmouth lost a lot of good players to graduation, baseball coaches know you can’t count Hopley’s team out.

 Gone are All-State 1st teamer Justin Blumenthal and 2nd teamers Will Hindle and Max Lalime, and 3rd teamers Damon Chase and Carmine Zingarello.

 But the Clippers return Boden Driscoll (3rd team All-State as a junior), Elliot Miles (2nd team All-State as a junior), and Matthew Minckler (1st team All-State last year) for their senior years, which has coaches around the division picking Portsmouth to be in the mix once again. 

 Minckler just finished up a tremendous basketball season for the Clippers, where he averaged 17 ppg, but baseball is Minckler’s top sport, and he’ll be playing in the ACC at the next level next season for Virginia Tech.

 Last year Minckler hit .338 and played SS for the Clippers. This year he’s expected to hit, play high-level defense at short and be a top starting pitcher for Portsmouth.

 3B/RHP Miles was also a basketball player at Portsmouth.

 He had four saves last year as a junior in limited innings, but his powerful bat (3 HR, 17 RBI last year) is what most opposing coaches fear about the UMASS Boston-bound player.

 Lefthanded starter Driscoll went 5-0 last year with a 1.44 ERA and had the most varsity mound experience on the team.

 Sebastian Lampert is another RHP expected to make an impact this season.

 Offensively, Minckler and Miles will be the leaders, along with fellow senior Lampert, who has a talented younger brother Zavier that made the roster as a freshman and will likely see time at first and get some at-bats.

 Speaking of younger brothers, three sophomores Gar Hindle will start at 2B, Joe Zingarello in the outfield, and Devin Driscoll in CF.

 Senior catcher Frank Krupp and junior Jake Carlisle had good seasons last year and will be looked upon to provide stability for a team with nine first-time varsity players.  

 The Bishop Guertin Cardinals have the pitching depth to compete for a Championship in Division I.

 When I told BG head coach Scott Painter that's what the word on the street is about his team, he said, "Yes, our pitching staff will be very good. If we hit, we can compete." That's the consensus from most coaches I spoke to for this preview.

 Senior Dominic Monico and juniors Jake Boudreau and Sam Franco will headline that pitching staff. Monico(3-1, 1.15 ERA last year with a measly .167 BAA) and Franco (1-1, 2.65 ERA with a .200 BAA last year) are both lefties and hard-throwing righty Boudreau (2nd Team All-State with a 4-2 record, 1.66 ERA and .236 BAA last year as a sophomore) might just be the best of the bunch.

 Coach Painter says BG will also look to newcomers Owen Richmond and Jackson Goldstein to contribute as juniors.

 The big question for BG is the offense, where senior Luke Anderson is the top returner on a team that lost a lot of talent to graduation in 1st Team All-State performer Evan Kaplo, 2nd teamer Max Riordan and 3rd teamer Brandon Metivier.

 Anderson, a kid we've covered in basketball at BG, will play SS. He hit .313 last season as a junior with 21 hits, 14 runs scored, 18 RBIs, and stole nine bases.

 Another familiar name on the baseball roster who also plays for John Fisher's BG basketball team is senior Peter Wilson. 

 It's been a banner year in Bedford for high school sports, especially on the boys' side.

 The football team won the school's first ever Division I Championship in the fall, and then the boys' basketball team made history by winning it all for the first time in school history during March.

 Baseball coach Billy Chapman started thinking his team sure has a tough act to follow when the boys' hockey team made a run to the D1 Championship game after a shocking semi-final win over previously undefeated Concord.

 "We have a couple of those State Championship players on our roster, QB Danny Black, Dom Tagliaferro plays football and hockey, Maddox Muir is a hockey guy, and Aiden O'Connell for the basketball team.", Chapman said.

 "It's Bedford baseball's turn to try and get involved with the Championship culture in town."

 Now in his 12th year as the head coach, Chapman hopes to bring this Bedford team back to competing regularly for a state championship, something they did during a five straight season stretch when they reached the title game every year from 2015 to 2019, winning it all in 2016.

 The Bulldogs will boast some good pitching depth in 2023, led by junior righty Patrick Foulis and the aforementioned O'Connell, the lefty transfer from Goffstown who was a massive addition to Frank Moreno's hoop team.

 "I didn't know Aiden well before we started practicing," Chapman said. "But he pitched very well against us a couple of years ago during his sophomore season with Goffstown. It was our senior night, and he almost ruined it for us. He's such a competitor."

 Champan said O'Connell, who has accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Northwestern, would take a post-graduate year next year before heading to the Big 10 the following year. 

 Foulis (P/SS, D1 3rd team last year as a sophomore), Tagliaferro (junior CF and leadoff hitter), and Muir (senior 1B) will serve as team captains.

 Junior Danny Black, the cool-as-a-cucumber football quarterback, will play LF and hit clean-up. You can expect O'Connell to play the outfield when he's not pitching.

 The infield will be fluid depending on who's pitching at the time, with sophomores Jack Hinton and Carter Crowley part of the middle infield rotation.

 Junior Maggie Foxx was named a Top 40 player for the USA Baseball Women's National Team last year. She'll play catcher along with backup from promising freshmen James Gilbert and Henry Dubois.

 "Dubois has hit himself into the lineup during the preseason. He went 5 for 6 in our two scrimmages this week," Chapman beamed. 

 The one team in New Hampshire High School baseball I felt I knew best before even talking with their coach is Goffstown.

 From living in town for the last 17 years and being involved in the great Goffstown Junior Baseball program for the last nine years, I've personally seen many of the current Grizzlies players grow up together, and I could see the potential for the high school team to compete for a Championship one day.

 Head coach Adam Lawrence has also raised his family in this town, and he's built the progression over the last ten years. When I got him on the phone and told him, it seemed to me like there was a feeling around town that there could be something special with this group, and I asked him if he felt it too. He said, "I do." 

 Much of that concerns the arrival of last year's Division IV Player of the Year Will Perkowski.

 Perkowski, a tall and slender 1B/RHP heading to SNHU in the fall on a baseball scholarship, grew up with these kids playing Little League together. But Perkowski started his high school career at The Derryfield School in Manchester.

 After tearing up D4 the last couple of years, coach Lawrence is happy to have Will wearing the Goffstown maroon once again for his senior year.

 "The kids all know him already, so it's been a good transition for Will. He gives us a number 1, that's for sure, and a middle-of-the-order bat."

 Perkowski's return home has certainly lessened the blow of losing Aiden O'Connell to Bedford before the start of the school year.

 Although Lawrence wasn't ready to give out his lineup, you can picture him potentially pairing Perkowski back to back in the order with UMASS Lowell commit Ryan Strand (1st team last year).

 The two fearsome right-handed hitters challenge opposing pitchers with their power and ability to hit for average. "Ryan is one of the best kids I have ever coached in my life," Lawrence said.

  "He's a great leader and a great human being."

 "He played SS for us last year, but this year he'll play OF for us. He made a diving catch in the preseason that shows he can handle the transition".

 Two other seniors Goffstown will heavily rely on this year is Merrimack College bound catcher Braeden Lambert (2nd team all-state) and OF/LHP Logan Simmons (3rd team).

 Jake Webber just finished a tremendous senior season as the #1 Goffstown hockey goalie, and he'll be at second base. Jack Wilkinson provides power in the lineup and will return as the third baseman. Cam Hujsak is another player who can play 1st and 3rd and has a good bat.

 Like every coach, Lawrence says it will come down to pitching in a tough Division I. "We need to figure out who will pitch for us after Will." That group includes Simmons, juniors Trevor Poisson and Hujsak, plus promising sophomores Noah Durham and Ryan Dutton.

 Other players to watch are sophomores Dillon Gaudet and the super-fast Adam Lafond.

 Scott Owen is one of the most respected, longest-tenured coaches in Division I baseball.

 Entering his 23rd year at Concord High School, the two-time Championship-winning coach returns a talented, senior-laden team in 2023 that should be in the mix again.

 The group is led by one of the best 1-2 punches in NH High School Baseball, Brooks Craigue, and Nater Wachter. "It's pretty hard to have two juniors that are 1st team all-state on the same team. To have both those guys back senior year is nice." Owen said.

 Craigue is fresh off one of the most amazing high school hockey seasons in history, where he scored 67 points in 24 games and finished with an astounding 187 for his career.

 The Division I player of the year isn't even playing hockey in college. That's because he's headed to Merrimack College in the fall to play baseball.

 Wachter, meanwhile, will be taking his considerable baseball talents to SNHU after graduation. 

 Craigue is penciled in as the #1 starter for Concord, senior RHP Matt Drewes is the #2 in the rotation while senior righty Daniel Revellese and junior lefty Mitchell Coffey will compete for the third starters role.

 The Crimson Tide will rely on four other seniors in relief with Wachter, Zach McCoy, Peyton Enis Yearout, and Jacob Ryder.

 Craigue will hit leadoff and play SS when he's not pitching, Wachter will play CF and hit in the three spot in the order. Another senior Kalan Gaudreault plays 2B, junior Dawson Fancher is at 3B and behind the plate is Hopkinton transfer Armen Laylagian(D3 1st team last year), a senior catcher.

 There's a positional battle going on to see who plays 1st base between Coffey and 6'5 Zanis Lauris, who we covered this winter for Concord basketball.

 According to veteran coach Owen, "These competitions always come down to who hits."  

 We've already talked about the big expectations at Bishop Guertin this year. And it appears baseball in the city of Nashua is on the rise.

 At least that's what the numbers say at my alma mater Nashua South (proud grad Nashua High Class of 1988). "We had over 50 kids come out for baseball this year", said 9th-year head coach James Gaj.

 "We had been losing kids to lacrosse in recent years, but this year we were up in numbers, and lacrosse was down." The Purple Panthers made strides last year, advancing to the Division I quarterfinal before losing to Exeter. With half the team returning, including six starters, the upward trend is expected to continue.

 Let's talk about the pitching. Gaj, who last year won the D1 Coach of the Year award, has 3 strong seniors in RHP Jake O'Connor (Wheaton), LHP Nicholas Shaw(D1 2nd team all-state last year), and RHP Hunter Ward(UMASS Boston) and then a 6'5 sophomore righty Grant McCubrey who throws near 90 and has already committed to NCAA powerhouse Vanderbilt.

 "He swung between JV and varsity last year, but he'll be with us (the varsity) all season long this year," Gaj said.

 South has a big hole to fill after the graduation of River Hart, the 2022 Division 1 player of the year. You can expect Ward at shortstop and Shaw and O'Connor in the outfield.

 Other Nashua South players to watch this season are seniors Isaiah Hedquist, a first baseman we covered in basketball for the Final Four Panthers team, 3B Dean Adams, and catcher Caleb Rich.        

 The one word you hear most often when talking to opposing coaches about the Exeter Blue Hawk baseball team is pitching.

 "They have really good pitching" is a common theme I heard. It starts with lefty George Young. The Keene State College-bound senior will lead the staff for coach Bruce Joyce in 2023. Another kid named Young, but not related to George, senior Brady Young throws from the right side, while junior lefty Cam Keaveney will round out the rotation.

 "Those three returning varsity pitchers should keep us in every game", 2nd-year head coach Joyce said. "Last year we had solid pitching all year long," evidenced by their quarterfinal round upset of Nashua South in last year's tournament. 

 The offense will be led by big bats Young, senior 2B Alex Morgado(PSU bound in the fall), and Keaveney(2nd team All-State D in hockey for Exeter).

 Another Exeter hockey player, Cam Snee, a 1st team All-State forward on the ice, didn't play baseball last year, but he is back to patrol CF for Exeter this spring.

 Coach Joyce expects the infield defense to be solid with Morgado and senior 3B Roger Davis returning. There's a battle for the SS job between senior Jakob Mikhitarian and sophomore Hayden Schimoler who the coach called "an on-base machine."

 The catching duties will come down to senior Jakob Schwarz and sophomore Finn Adams. Junior Shea LaFleur is a big lefty hitting 1B/LHP that will get his chances.

 The Nashua North baseball team is one that several coaches I talked to for this preview said, "watch out" if they are fully healthy.

 It starts with the health of senior Derek Finlay, whose football season was cut short in their shocking playoff loss to Bedford on a rainy and cold Friday night at Stellos Stadium last November.

 Finlay's leg injury is all healed, but a planned off-season shoulder surgery keeps the U of Albany commit on the bench for the early part of the season.

"He looks great, moving around the field, but we're still waiting for him to come back from the shoulder which got pushed back a little because of the football injury," coach Zach Harris said.

"When he does, we've got one of the Top 5 players in the state." Other coaches agree. 

 Another reason for optimism at North is returning All-State starting pitcher Elias Bourque.

 Bourque will have some help in the rotation as Dominican-born Jonathan Medrano moved into town and enrolled at Nashua North in the fall.

 Coach Harris thinks the junior Medrano can be one of the top pitchers in NH. Brady Sullivan is another Titan pitcher to watch; the senior was recently elected as team captain along with Finlay.

 Finlay's football teammate Toby Brown Jr has never played baseball in high school before, but he made the team as an outfielder and will also compete for the school's track and field team trying to defend his state championship in the shot put. 

 It will be a different atmosphere at Winnacunnet baseball games this season…at least compared to the days' Joe Allen was pitching for the Warriors the last couple of years.

 The star righthander Allen has graduated and is now pitching at Clemson University following the former head coach at Michigan down to Tiger Country in South Carolina after he took the head job at Clemson before Allen ever threw a pitch for the Wolverines.

 Winnacunnet head coach Aaron Abood says that the days of major league scouts lining the field like we saw whenever Allen took the mound are over.

 That might be a good thing for this year's team. "High School kids aren't used to all the attention that came when Joe was pitching, seeing scouts behind the fence watching. I think things will be more normal this year, and that's fine."

 The Warriors will rely on strong senior leadership from captains Jake Fredericks, Jason Pinsonnault, Evan Gaffney, and Ethan Nowak.

 The pitching staff will be led by lefty Nowak(heading to Endicott next year), who lost a 2-1 quarterfinal game against Pinkerton ace Liam Doyle in last year's quarterfinals, and Pinsonnault, a big strong righthander who will pitch at Western New England in Maine next season.

 Arjay Sidney is another critical arm coach Abood mentioned. Fredericks, a 3rd baseman and middle-of-the-lineup guy for two years, has also been a big part of the Winnacunnet football team and is widely considered one of the great overall athletes in NH.

 He was All-State 2nd team last year in baseball. Gaffney is another hitter who plays an exceptional 1st base.

 Abood said Junior Brady Thompson would handle the catching duties and watch for speedy outfielder Miles Pratt who flies around the bases.    

 Dover baseball returns all but one starter from a team that finished a game under .500 in 2022 and lost a 3-2 decision to seacoast rival Exeter in the tournament.

 That's why 2nd-year coach Scott Dubben is very optimistic heading into this season. "We have a lot of depth. On paper, the names might not jump off the page at you, but our team has a lot of guys who can be good players", Dubben said.

 "We were very young last year, and those guys now have valuable experience at the varsity level and that should help keep us in every game."

 Dubben worked at St. Thomas before he got the head job at Dover, and he knows the local baseball scene as director of the vaunted Seacoast Pirates travel baseball program for ten years.

 Two of the big arms the Green Wave will rely on this year are junior LHP Alex Cook and sophomore RHP Charlie Kubiet.

 Kubiet was the team's #2 pitcher last year as a freshman, and the expectation is that he'll continue to improve. Dubben loves what Cook brings to the table from the left side with a mid 80's fastball and a slider that makes him really tough to hit.

 Seniors Jackson Carroll and Parker Fleury will also see time on the mound. Fleury is a Dover hockey player but had to sit out the Green Wave's Championship season with a medical condition.

 He's been cleared to play baseball, and coach Dubben is glad to have him back. 

 Senior Brett Davis is one player Dubben was counting on for big things this year that he will have to wait a while for.

 Davis was the goaltender on the Dover hockey team that went on an 11-game winning streak to claim the title after a 4-6 start. Davis had never played goalie before this year but volunteered to give it a shot. The rest is history.

 Davis suffered a hand injury during the Dover football season that he played through during hockey. But surgery will keep him out for baseball until mid-season. When he returns, he'll be inserted into the lineup in CF, and Dover will have one of the best athletes in NH back. 

 First year Windham head coach Matt Case has been ready for baseball season since the Windham football season ended in a home playoff loss to Bedford last November.

 Case works as an assistant coach with Jack Byrne's football Jaguars and has been a member of the Windham baseball staff as a pitching coach for the last 6 seasons.

 One thing about coaching at Windham, there's a pipeline of good, young athletic talent across all the different sports. "We have a lot of guys you're going to recognize from basketball and football," Case said. "I'm happy you guys will cover baseball the way you cover the other sports. I think it's really good for the kids, and they deserve it."

 Case takes over for Leo Gravell, whose team went .500 last year, earning a 12 seed in the D1 tournament and upset the number 5 team Concord at Memorial Field.

 The Cinderella story ended in the quarters at Londonderry in the next round with a 10-0 Lancers victory. Still, the coach hopes to build on that with a group of five seniors complimented by a good junior class and some talented sophomores. 

 The Jags will be leaning on RHP Cole Constantine as their ace. The senior is headed to Assumption to play baseball after graduation, and Windham will be handing him the baseball with a lot of confidence.

 "He dominated our scrimmage against Massachusetts powerhouse Central Catholic with 13Ks. We expect a big season from him."

 Behind Constantine in the rotation, Case thinks sophomore Jake Sullo who has been consistently at 83-85 mph, is poised for a breakout season. Travis Parke is expected to be the 3rd starter, with familiar names Jack Koutrobis and Jack Murphy likely working out of the bullpen.

 "I think the experience those young guys gained in the other sports will help them on the baseball field. They built some confidence and I think it will translate".

 The infield defense should include Joe Murphy at first base, Timmy Hoffman at second, a combo of Constantine and Sullo at SS, Logan Runde(.350 average last year) at third, and catcher Alec Arinello.

 Outfielder Paul Armstrong hit .382 as a sophomore last year and returns for his junior season as one of the team captains.  

 Keene High Blackbird coach Ryan Boden enters his 2nd season in charge of a team looking to make a return to the playoffs after just missing out by one game last year.

 "We really put a ton of work in over the off-season. Our players stepped up on their own doing things around the state in an effort to improve themselves and fine-tune their games. The pitchers did it too."

 With a strong senior and junior class filled with returning starters, Boden thinks this team can succeed.

"We need to focus on putting the ball in play and making the right plays. If we can do those things there's no reason this team can't win 10 or more games, we have the pitching."

 That pitching includes right-handers Gavin Rigby, Zak Whitney, and Jack Riendeau, who coach Boden wants to throw out there in that order every week.

 "I like to give my starting pitchers a set schedule so they can get comfortable in their routines between starts."

 The relief corps comprises Brock Haynes, Cam Tinnin, and Evan Gutkowski, the latter two guys who throw from a different arm angle, giving hitters a different look.

 "I like that." He also likes the leadership senior team captains Joel Beard, Riendeau, Cal Tiani, and Sam Timmer bring to the table. 

 Defensively, the speedy Colin French will man left field with Riendeau and Whitney in center and right.

 Haynes, who led the team in hitting last year, will play second base, and Fitch Hennessey, who came up last year as a freshman and played so well at SS that he earned 3rd team All-State, will be back in that position as a sophomore. Tiani returns to start at third, and Timmer is the catcher. 

 Salem's Dan Kelleher is one of the longest-tenured coaches in New Hampshire High School baseball and football. Kelleher has been coaching in Salem since 1993.

 He has worked with the football program dating back to his days under legendary coach Jack Gati and took over the baseball program in 1997.

 Just last fall, he approached me at a Salem football game, and we talked about how NH sports page was expanding our baseball coverage this spring. He couldn't have been happier.

 For those who don't know the history, the Blue Devils had a tremendous run on the diamond at the turn of the century, appearing in 5 State Championships between 2002 and 2011, winning it all in 2003.

 But when the neighboring town of Windham opened up a new high school in the fall of 2009, many of the athletes who once played for Salem were now suiting up for the Jaguars.

"Windham used to help our numbers in Salem, but when they got their own high school, we lost a lot of kids," Kelleher said. "We've been working on building our program back up ever since."

 Last year's Salem team went 5-13 and just missed out on the playoffs. But the coach thinks the experience his younger players got last season is only going to help this year.

 "We had as many as five freshmen starting last year, but now those guys are sophomores with some varsity experience which is good."

 The Blue Devils need to replace a pretty unique talent from last year's team as switch-pitching Ryan Gomez who was All-State 1st team, has graduated and now playing baseball at my old college (Class of 1991), now known as Husson University in Bangor, Maine.

 Tommy Ahlers is also now playing in college at Keene State. "He was injured for most of last year, he only returned for our final game, and he went 4 for 4 against Merrimack. If we had him we probably would've won four more games and would have been in the tournament."

 Look for sophomores Aaron Masson, Cooper Deschene, junior Kris Cornacchio, and senior Aden Lacharitie to anchor the right-hand dominant pitching staff.

 Senior team captain Sean Roeger who hit .306 last year, has been one of the most improved players after the off-season coming in faster and stronger, and is expected to play SS. Sophomore Derek Boodoo started last year at second and will play middle infield this season.

 Another sophomore Owen Doherty is expected to catch and play some OF.   

 Manchester Memorial had an excellent turnout at the start of tryouts this spring.

 "We had 51 kids show up, and I know a lot of other schools had only 20 or 30 kids tryout", head coach Matt D'Ambrosio said.

 When I mentioned to him I didn't recognize any names from the other Memorial sports we cover, the coach said his roster is mostly made up of baseball-only kids.

 "We only have 1 kid, Nick Lodding who is a soccer player, the rest of the kids on the team are basically all baseball kids". In his 2nd season at the helm for the Crusaders, D'Ambrosio is a former four year player at Manchester Memorial and graduated in the class of 2014.

 The Crusaders bring back 8 seniors with the top returner SS Manny Castro who was 3rd team All-State in 2022.

 Twin brothers Alexis (CF/P) and Zander (IF/P) Rivera are a pair of other guys Memorial will be counting on, along with Nick Duclos, top hitter Juan Pena, a junior, senior, and #2 hitter Caidan Berube and sophomore Ben Mailloux.

 The Memorial home games this season will all be played at Gill Stadium with many of them under the lights.  

 It's a rebuilding year in Merrimack for the Tomahawk baseball program. The team went 6-12 last year in head coach Mike Dudash's second year in charge and missed the playoffs.

 The good news for the Tomahawks is the return of junior SS Eliot Medlock who was 3rd team All-State as a sophomore last season and followed that up with an All-State junior season in hockey for the Merrimack team that made it all the way to the Division II Finals.

 Medlock will be heading off to Rhode Island and Bryant University to play ball after his senior year.

 Another talented junior, Garron Brown who also plays football at Merrimack under coach Kip Jackson will play 2B alongside Medlock, making for one of the better middle infields in the state. First baseman Cody Booth and versatile Mike Morin are also back.

 Sophomore Ryan Mainey is expected to be the pitching staff's ace after a good freshman season.

 The catching duties will be a competition between players with little varsity experience with junior Aiden Centrella and sophomore Shay Collins.

 Yvan Tejada, Jackson Woods (Tomahawk hockey player) and Keegan Ponder will get the chance to contribute as well. 

 The Timberlane Owls did not have a very successful 2022 baseball season. They finished the year at 3-15 and missed the tournament, but they did hand Portsmouth their first loss of the season after a 16-0 start.

 That late-season win gave 3rd-year varsity head coach Alex Horgan and the Owls something to build upon in the off-season heading into 2023.

 "We started three freshmen last year, so we were very young, but those guys got some valuable experience, and we are excited to turn the page." 

 Jaden Mwangi is a super talented kid we have covered in football and basketball for Timberlane, and the senior is going to be a big part of the Owls baseball team as the #1 pitcher and center fielder.

 Mwangi, juniors Keenan Hagerty and Ryan Kontos, sophomore Myles Peetz and freshman Matt Fitzgerald (the cousin of Timberlane football coach Kevin Fitzgerald) are expected to lead the pitching staff, while a good group of underclassmen has coach Horgan feeling like this is a program on the rise.

 "We have a lot of good multi-sport athletes at Timberlane, and they think they can succeed on the baseball field as they have had in football and some other sports in recent years." 

 Sophomores Andrew Pantano (SS) and Liam Kelley (catcher), and Fitzgerald (3B) are expected to start for the Owls.

 At the same time, senior football standout Camden Zambrowicz will play some first base, catcher, and DH as one of the team's best hitters.

 Backup football QB Jeremy Mlocek and Anderson Petry are two of five sophomores on the roster that coach Horgan likes and expects to contribute.  

 The Alvirne Broncos are looking to improve on a five win season last year that saw them miss the tournament.

 3rd-year head coach Adam Perkins says this year's Broncos team will be very young. "We have a good core of players that devoted much time to the off-season. Our pitchers will need to hit their spots and get ground balls", said Perkins. "I feel that plays into our largest strength which should be our defense." 

 Alvirne graduated a good one in Jacob Dufour, who was 2nd team All-State last season.

 Still, the coach likes his starting pitching, led by senior Alex Blais, junior Logan Casey, and sophomore Craig Pederson who he hopes can get the ball to closer Devin Smith.

 Offensively, coach Perkins says the Broncos will rely on Blais(1B), Reece Baker(INF/P/C), Casey(INF), and Smith(DH), with sophomores Antonio Vallante and Charles Crawford as well as speedy freshman Jameson Kruger.

 "Like most teams, for us to be successful, our veterans must play well and our young guys must emerge. Sophomore slugger/pitcher/catcher/3B Mikey Bebris who made varsity last year as a freshman, will miss the season after offseason arm surgery. 

 It's been a tough last couple of years for the Trinity High School baseball team.

 While Trinity's football and basketball teams were making championship game appearances, the baseball team has struggled with only six wins combined in the last two seasons.

 Enter new head coach Matt Bouchard who replaces Jake Filip to start 2023.

 You may recognize Bouchard from his playing days at Manchester Memorial(Class of 1999) and as the head coach at Cawley Middle School in Hooksett for the last ten years.

 Bouchard has also made a name for himself as the founder of the NH Prospects Baseball Club which has grown into one of the premier travel baseball programs in the state in just a short time.

 Bouchard hopes to do the same at Trinity. "I know this is a rebuild, and it won't happen overnight. There were only two jobs I wanted…Memorial where I played in high school…and Trinity." 

 The Pioneers were dealt a tough blow early in the preseason when CF and middle-of-the-order hitter Jack Service had to shut it down with a wrist injury he sustained in football while playing quarterback.

 Service will undergo surgery on his non-throwing hand and will likely miss at least the 1st month of the season.

 The good news for Trinity is that senior RHP Sean Kulhoff is back after making the D1 3rd team last season. "Sean is the hardest worker we've got," said Bouchard. We'll need five solid innings every time he takes the mound this year if we are successful."

 Sophomore 3B/RHP Logan Whitney had a good freshman season and will be slotted in behind Kulhoff as the #2 starter. Senior Tyler Nolan is another arm the Pioneers will look to for innings.

 Senior Tyson Whitaker will hit leadoff and will take the mound and also get work as a catcher, while Service's younger brother Ollie Service is a talented freshman who will play OF and pitch. 

 Spaulding High School brings back some quality veteran arms for the 2023 season in RHP/INF Abi Davis and LHP/OF Josh Scamman. 

 Coach BJ Gagnon also has a promising sophomore lefty starter in Owen Nesbitt.

 Scamman (Mitchell College) and Davis (Fisher College will pitch at the next level next year, and this season the Red Raiders are hoping the two seniors can lead the staff.

 When Gagnon took over at Spaulding before the 2019 season, he knew the baseball tradition in Rochester was strong.

 Gagnon coached with the very successful Rochester American Legion teams that dominated the state in the mid 2010's.

 There are still some links to those great Legion teams in town with junior SS Dawson Calero, the younger brother to Spaulding grad Keagan Calero who is now playing in college at Dayton University.

 Dawson has been a 2-year varsity player for the Red Raiders, and coach Gagnon says "Dawson has worked really hard, and he looks great!"

 The coach also mentioned junior 1B Wesley Alfonso as a player to watch.

 "He was our #3 hitter all last year as a sophomore." Other Spaulding players who are expected to contribute this year are seniors Garrett Doucette, Colin Bissonnette, Pat Callaghan, and Brady Grinnell, along with junior Hunter Trueman. 

 To say that the first season of a combined Manchester Central/West co-op baseball program was a success is probably an understatement.

 The Knights made the playoffs in their 1st year, but head coach Ernie Yerrington says it was about more than just wins and losses.

 “It was absolutely a success and the right thing to do. If we had not combined the two programs, West would not have had a team last year.”

 Yerrington, who is serving as a co-head coach along with former West head coach Dan Colburn said last year only nine players from West came out for the team, and this year they only had four players show up for tryouts, and all of them were in the program last year.

  The inaugural season ended in a tournament loss to runner-up Londonderry who Central/West had beaten during the regular season.

 This edition of the Knights has eight seniors on the team, led by returning D1 2nd team 1B Declan Ryan, a 4-year varsity player who Yerrington says has a tremendous glove and an All-State caliber bat.

 The pitching staff will be led by 6’6 senior righty Brett Beddington who recently committed to Keene State. Junior Nolan Duval is another top returner. Sophomores Gavin Currier and Wilson Zolla will also be expected to help out on the mound, although Zolla is currently out sick and won’t be back until later in April.

 Several of the eight seniors on the team have never played at the varsity level, including Ishmael Sanchez, who hasn’t played baseball in 4 or 5 years.

 Freshman RHP/OF Fernando Jose Calderon Reynoso arrived in the offseason from the Dominican Republic and is expected to contribute right away.


 Coming tomorrow: Division IV

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