Local players assume key roles for Post 98

Mike Henzley had a new motto in mind when putting together this summer’s Merrimack Post 98 Senior Legion baseball squad: Less is more.

Thus, he didn’t max out his roster when preparing for the season and it’s worked, as the 98’ers are battling with Concord for the top spot in District A.

“I kept a smaller squad this year with 14 or 15 guys,” Henzley said. “Sometimes it hurts us a little bit in flexibility, but I think all the guys, they stay more engaged.”

It doesn’t take Henzley more than a second to say what Merrimack’s best trait is as a team:

“Our strength is our pitching,” he said. “Definitely above-average pitching. Our defense is average and our offense is a little below average. But they put it together. When we execute, we score runs. We manufacture stuff, we steal bags, we put the bunts down.”

The pitching is so good Souhegan alum Nick Wilson, who has been a starter, is being used as a closer. It helps Wilson as he’s coming back from a UCL injury.

Souhegan’s Keegan Burke has been one of the top starters, and his brother Colin, has also been key. “Keegan (three wins) has been outstanding, he’s been our guy, just very dependable,” Henzley said. “Colin takes a little longer to rebound (after starts), but when he’s on the mound he’s really good,” Henzley said.

Then there’s the Brennan brothers from Wilton, Sean and Troy (two wins each), although Sean Brennan suffered a wrist injury diving into a base and it’s still been bothering him, so his return is still pending. T

Tom Brennan, his father and the Wilton-Lyndeborough High School Division IV Coach of the Year is one of Henzley’s assistants, and his sons are headed to Keene State I in the fall.

Milford alum Brandon Shaw is also on the mound staff, the only Milford player. “We want more,” Henzley said.

Offensively, Garron Brown of Merrimack, who just finished his sophomore season with the Tomahawks, is hitting at a .435 clip with seven doubles at last look, and 10 RBIs.

“And he steals bases for us,” Henzley said. “Hes been a fireplug for us. He’s been the surprise. I started him lower in the order and then the way he was hitting I moved him up. He’s a leader for us offensively.

“And defensively he plays anywhere. He’ll play the middle infield, he’s solid there; he can play the outfield for us. He’s been great, a real big surprise. He’s the youngest kid I have on the team; everyone else is all 18-19-year olds.”

His Merrimack teammate, Eliot Medlock, is also on the roster, but he also plays AAU ball and is only available sparingly. But there is also experience in former Tomahawks catcher Ben Flanders, who plays his college ball at RIT.

“He’s been a really good leader for us, smart kid, he’s at a top program,” Henzley said.

“The last two or three games we broke out a little bit offensively,” Henzley said.

It should be an interesting couple of weeks to wrap up the regular season; a biggie is Concord-Merrimack a week from Friday.

“We still have some work to do,” Henzley said. “We have a doubleheader with Lebanon, two more games with Concord. We still have some work to do.

“And these kids are really good about staying focused and getting prepared.”

In last night’s win, Ponder scored the winning run in the top of the eighth while Brown got the win with 2.2 innings of relief. Keegan Burke and Flanders both homered.

A perfect example of what kind of summer it’s been so far for Post 98: a good one.