The Pinkerton Academy baseball squad got itself to within one victory of a return to the Division I championship contest by disposing of Trinity and the Londonderry High Lancers in the first two rounds of the divisional tournament last week.
Coach Steve Campo’s Astros throttled Trinity’s Pioneers by a 7-0 tally in round one, and then followed up by ending the defending D-I champion LHS Lancers’ 2015 campaign in a 5-2 decision in the divisional quarterfinals.
The latter success had to be particularly pleasing in Astro Land because it was Londonderry that defeated Pinkerton in the D-I title contest last June.
The besting of Londonderry placed the PA hardball crew into a semifinal-round battle with the fifth-seeded Bedford High Bulldogs at Holman Stadium in Nashua Wednesday, June 10, after Nutfield News press time.
The Astros had advanced to the quarterfinal-round contest with their arch-rival Londonderry by virtue of a 7-0 white-washing of the 16th-seeded Trinity High Pioneers in Derry Thursday, June 4.
John Polichetti put forth an excellent pitching performance for his top-seeded side, going all seven innings and striking out nine batters while allowing seven hits and just a single walk.
His offense supported him with three runs in both the first and third innings in racing out to a commanding 6-0 lead. The victorious hosts also smacked out nine hits, with Joey Murphy and Chace Spears each collecting two. Polichetti supported his own cause with a triple, a run batted in, and a walk. Mike Albetski also laced a three-bagger and drove in a run, and Tom Diskin drove in two runs and stole a couple of bases.
That success – combined with ninth-seeded Londonderry’s pounding of number eight Manchester Memorial at Gill Stadium later that evening – set up the rematch of the 2014 D-I title game.
The Astros and Lancers played twice during a short span in April, with both sides bagging wins. So the tourney game last Saturday in Derry served as the rubber game of 2015 for the rivals.
Despite the fact that Londonderry broke out to a modest early lead in the quarterfinal battle, Campo and his crew wound up with many reasons to be pleased with the 5-2 victory they collected.
The Lancers plated single runs in the top halves of the first and third innings off PA starting pitcher Spears to go up 2-0. But Spears shut down the potent LHS offense in the middle innings while his own offense got busy scoring the runs that would get them the victory.
The Astros sliced the Lancer lead in half in the bottom of the third when number nine batter Ben Curry hammered a long hit to center field that turned into an inside-the-park home run.
The hosts then snared the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth by scoring three times on three hits and two Lancer errors.
Tucker Obrey bashed a two-run double during the frame and later scored himself on one of the LHS defensive miscues as PA went up 4-2.
The academy side added its fifth run in the latter half of the fifth – with John Polichetti scoring on a wild pitch – as the score advanced to 5-2.
PA starter and winning hurler Spears retired seven consecutive batters between the third and fifth innings – with that streak only being busted by the Astros’ lone error in the game – in helping his team succeed.
“Chace is a competitor, and even when he doesn’t have his best stuff he’s going to compete. And he did the job for us again today,” said Campo.
Despite a bit of late trouble in the top of the seventh, Spears hung tight and ended up collecting the complete game win.
The righty hurler wound up holding Londonderry to five hits and one walk while striking out two batters.
The Pinkerton offense produced eight hits in his support, with Albetski thumping two of them.
“You have to tip your cap to Londonderry over there,” said Campo, himself an LHS graduate and former Lancer baseball player. “(LHS starting pitcher Nick) Musto is a heck of a pitcher, but we’re working with the philosophy that you’ve just got to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and good things will happen. And we saw that’s true again today.”