Portsmouth sinks Souhegan in baseball finals rematch

Photo by TOM KING Souhegan’s Bryce Reagan dives safely back to first base during Monday night’s Division II final in Manchester.

MANCHESTER – When all was said and done, there was too much generosity on one end and not enough firepower on the other.

And that sunk the Souhegan High School baseball team in Monday night’s Division II championship game, a 5-0 loss at the hands of the Portsmouth Clippers. Top-seeded Portsmouth (17-2) wasn’t really threatened in avenging last year’s 2-1 title loss to the Sabers in the rematch at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

“Right,” Souhegan coach Bill Dod said. “For whatever reason we didn’t have the answers (Monday) to a lot of situations.”

Saber starter Owen Batchelder kept the hits to a minium (four) but issued six walks while hitting three batters. In all, Portsmouth got 10 free passes on the night.

“I think Owen worked as hard as he could,” Dod said. “Short time, short rest. … For what he gave us, he put us in the position (to win). Unfortunately we didn’t do it.”

Batchelder said he never really felt comfortable from the start.

“You know, just from the very first pitch in the bullpen, mechanically and arm-wise I felt a little bit different than I did against Windham in the semis,” Batchelder, who struck out four, said. “I don’t know if it was the amount of pitches I was throwing … Stuff’s not really working, you have to just keep grinding through. … Unfortunately, Portsmouth caught us on a bad day.”

Conversely, Portsmouth pitcher Trevor Van Allen was superb, going the distance while checking the Sabers on four hits. He fanned 11, giving up four hits and walking two, pitching out of the only real big trouble he was in, coming in the sixth.

“I think he was a lot quicker than our kids thought he was,” Dod said. “He mixed it up real well.”

The Clippers simply took advantage of what was given them.

“You’ve got to do it,” said Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley, who now has won six titles with the Clippers. “That’s been what’s happened to us, those are the things that (have) killed us (in two losses this year). You just take advantage of what’s given.”

Batchelder escaped trouble with two strikeouts in the

second and another big one in the third, but he couldn’t avoid trouble in the fourth. Portsmouth’s Kyle Pufahl walked to lead off the inning, stole second, and was sacrificed to third by Jack Reaney. From there he scored the game’s first run on a sac fly by Dylan Chase.

But Portsmouth, which had nine first-year varsity players on the roster, wasn’t done as Batchelder walked the No. 9 hitter, Cal Hewett. He went to second on an errant Batchelder pickoff throw and scored on a hard hit single through Saber shortstop Bryce Reagan for a 2-0 Clipper lead.

Portsmouth made it 3-0 as more control issues plagued Batchelder in the fifth. He walked two, although one of those, Peyton Goodrich, was cut down at third. But then a hit by Kyle Pufahl and a sac fly by Dylan Chase gave Portsmouth a 3-0 lead.

The Sabers just couldn’t get runners home. Ryan Hill led the game off with a single and stayed at first. Daniel Trzepacz doubled with two out in the second, but was stranded.

And in the sixth, Hill walked and Reagan singled leading off the sixth. One out later they moved up to second and third on Batchelder’s fly to left, but Van Allen got Tucker Aiello looking to end the threat.

“The kid has been phenomenal,” Hopley said of his pitcher, “especially in the playoffs. He pitched in all three games. … You could see toward the end there his velocity was down a little bit. But everything he had, he emptied the tank in that inning. We said before the sixth, the sixth was the inning. They had the top of the order coming up. That was going to be the game.”

And it was.

“It’s a simple game,” Dod said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get that simple play or simple hit to result in a run. … We hit the ball, but we just didn’t hit ground enough.”

Batchelder’s night was done after he hit his third batter, Hewett, to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Peyton Goodrich and Kyle Griffin touched up reliever Jacob Grassett for RBI singles and it was a 5-0 game, and just about over.

“We had an outstanding season,” Dod said. “We were 16-4. I’m pleased with what we accomplished. I wished we accomplished a little bit more. That’s the nature of the game.”