Merrimack forced out of Legion tournament early

MANCHESTER – Grant Coy felt it when he tried to advance on an errant throw to third and then slide home.

The ankle. An injury suffered late in the season caught up with him, and his pitches in the fifth and six inning of Saturday morning’s State Legion Tournament elimination game with Sweeney Post at Gill Stadium didn’t have the same zip.

As a result, the host team pounced on Coy for two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, wiping out a 2-0 Post 98 lead and sending the locals packing for the summer, 5-3. Merrimack lost its opening game to Concord by an 11-10 margin in 10 innings.

“When I went to the sixth I was getting pretty tired,” said Coy, the Keene State-bound Nashua North alum who pitched briefly in relief Friday. “After that slide at the plate (he was out) I was feeling it a little bit in my ankle. … Not the end we were looking for.”

“He definitely wore himself out a little bit,” Merrimack manager Chris McKenzie said. “I’m sure the ankle was not a helpful thing. But I’d say this. Keene is getting a hell of a player. That type of guts will go a long way at Keene State. … It won’t show in the box score but he gave it everything he had.”

Sweeney, which got a complete game win from lefty Nate Proulx, got even when Coy walked two of the first three Sweeney hitters he faced in the fifth. He then gave up an RBI single to Riley Denver and sac fly to Joe Silva.

With the game deadlocked at 2 in the bottom of the sixth, Coy gave up a one-out double to Drew Merrick. With two outs, No. 9 hitter Dan Schesser doubled in the go-ahead run, and later scored on Riley Denver’s triple. Denver raced home on a wild pitch, and Merrimack was down 5-2.

While Coy (seven-plus, eight hits, four walks, two strikeouts) grinded his way through, the Sweeney players deserve some credit as well. The 9 a.m. game provided an incredibly short turnaround from their Friday night loss to Nashua.

“A lot of them got home 11, 11:30, showed up at the field today, and they were ready to go,” Sweeney manager Nick Koravos said. “We didn’t have to say anything to them.”

Nor did he have to say much to Proulx, who after spotting Merrimack that early 2-0 lead (unearned runs) was tough. He gave up just one earned run, struck out three, allowed seven hits while walking just three. Merrimack had the tying runs on in the ninth but he deflected a hot smash off the bat of Chad Seaver for a 1-6-3 game ending out.

“He was huge,” Koravos said. “We struggled yesterday throwing strikes and he comes out and gives us nine strong innings. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Two Sweeney errors plated a run for Post 98 in the first, and Andrew Thibault doubled home a run in the third. Down 5-2, Merrimack got a run in the eighth off a leadoff Chad Seaver single, a wake to Ryan Slate, and fielder’s choice off the bat of Thibault. But Proulx got Alex Thornton to line to short and Nick Dutton to pop out to end the inning.

“Proulx threw the ball really well,” McKenzie said. “Mixed well and hit his spots. You just have to tip your cap to a kid having a day like that.”