The baseball season has come once again for the Crusaders of Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester, NH. The largest city in Northern New England is one year away from celebrating the 100th Anniversary of historic Gill Stadium, now home to all four of Manchester’s Division I baseball schools. The Crusaders are led by their head coach, Mr. Aaron Abood, a 2000 graduate of Manchester Memorial and math teacher who is now serving his third year as varsity baseball coach. They have been the most successful of Manchester’s Division I baseball schools so far, winning four of their first six games and three of four at home.
Manchester Memorial High School, once home to many legendary baseball players such as the late Mike Flanagan and Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni, began its 2012 baseball schedule at home against Nashua South on April 10, 2012. The Crusaders proved themselves to be ready for competition by dominating on the field to help pave the way for a 5-3 victory. It began in the first inning when senior third baseman Zack Beckwith delivered a two-out single and made it to second base on a fielding error made by Nashua South. Beckwith then scored on an RBI-single by junior second baseman Jacob Boylan. While Nashua South managed to score two runs in the 2nd inning and one run in the 3rd (all unearned), Memorial came right back in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore shortstop Kevin Gonzales led of the inning with a triple. This was followed up with a walk to junior left fielder Bryant Bettez. Gonzales then scored on an RBI single by junior center fielder Cody Marchant. Bettez then went on to score on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Jacob Boylan reached base with a walk and ultimately scored on an RBI-single by senior designated hitter Mike Torres. Then in the fourth inning, Bryant Bettez delivered a single and stole second base. He later scored on an RBI-single by Zack Beckwith. Earlier in the inning (with one out in the top of the 4th), senior Vinny Langella came in to pitch in relief of junior Justin Shockley. Langella struck out eight batters and surrendered only two hits and no walks in the 3.2 innings that he pitched to finish the game and win it for the Crusaders.
The next day, the Crusaders traveled to Londonderry High School for their second game. Zack Beckwith pitched a complete game for Memorial who again came from behind to mount a decisive, 8-3 victory. All three of Londonderry’s runs scored in the first inning, but Beckwith dominated the mound for the rest of the game. He struck out a total of six batters and allowed only four hits during the entire course of the game. The Crusaders began their scoring rally in the 3rd inning when Cody Marchant led off the inning with a single, moved to third base on subsequent at-bats, and scored on a pitch that got passed by Londonderry’s catcher. Londonderry would maintain their lead until the top of the 5th inning, when Jacob Boylan delivered a one-out single. Boylan would ultimately score on a single by senior first baseman Tyler Burke. An error by Londonderry then allowed Burke to move to second base and for Mike Torres (who hit into a fielder’s choice at third base after Boylan’s hit) to score as well. Designated hitter Vinny Langella then hit a single to drive in Burke. Langella would then score two batters later on a single by Kevin Gonzales. Then in the 6th inning, Burke delivered a 2-RBI triple to drive in Jacob Boylan (who had been hit by a pitch) and Mike Torres (who had been walked). Burke then scored on a sacrifice fly by Langella to give the Crusaders their 5-run lead that would be maintained for the rest of the game.
Memorial returned home for a rare Saturday game against Spaulding High School on April 14. Mike Torres pitched four full innings during which Spaulding scored three runs (two earned) – one each in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th innings. Torres was relieved by sophomore Warren Silver early in the 5th inning. Silver completed the 5th and 6th innings, and sophomore Brian Shea pitched the 7th. The tied game went into extra innings when senior Brandon Hammerstrom pitched the eighth before the Crusaders rallied later in the inning to complete a dramatic 4-3 victory. The Crusaders first scored in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Cody Marchant drew a walk with the bases loaded to score senior catcher Chaz Newton. Then in the 3rd inning, again with the bases loaded, Newton delivered an infield single to score Mike Torres. As the bases remained loaded, Kevin Gonzales was hit by a pitch to effectively “drive-in” Tyler Burke. After Spaulding tied the score in the top of the 4th, no one scored again until the game went into extra innings. Finally, in the bottom of the 8th, Bryant Bettez was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. He advanced to third on a productive groundout. After the next two batters were intentionally walked, Tyler Burke delivered a clean single to score Bettez and improve Memorial’s record to 3-0.
The following week, they traveled up to Concord to face Concord High School on Memorial Field in Concord, NH on Monday, April 16. Their highlight of this game came when Jacob Boylan led off the 2nd inning with a homerun to produce what was the only run for the Crusaders. They were outperformed by Concord who won by a score of 6-1.
Upon returning home for a long series of home games, the Crusaders faced Pinkerton Academy on Wednesday, April 18. Zack Beckwith again took the mound to pitch five complete innings. All were scoreless except for the 2nd inning, when Pinkerton scored three runs. Memorial again came from behind in the 3rd inning when Cody Marchant drew a walk and ultimately scored on a fielding error. Later in the inning, with runners on first and second, Tyler Burke delivered a two-out hit that was ruled a ground-rule double when it rolled behind the back fence. Jacob Boylan scored, but Mike Torres had to stop at third base. Two batters later, senior right fielder Ivan Valcarcel delivered a single that scored Torres and Burke. Bryant Bettez led off the bottom of the 4th inning with a single, advanced to second base, and stole third base. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Boylan. In the 5th inning, Vinny Langella drew a walk and moved to second base on a bad pitch. He scored on a two-out single by Kevin Gonzales, giving Memorial a 6-3 lead. Despite this, Pinkerton rallied for two runs both the 6th and 7th innings to win the game 7-6.
Memorial concluded the second week of their season against Nashua North on Friday, April 20. Mike Torres pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits and one unearned run in the 5th inning. The Crusaders first scored in the 3rd inning when Bryant Bettez reached base on an error and then moved to third base on a double by Cody Marchant. Two batters later, Jacob Boylan hit a one-out double to score Bettez and Marchant. Boylan would later score on a two-out single by Tyler Burke. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Burke would lead off with a triple. Pinch runner Justin Shockley would then score on a bad pitch. This resulted in a decisive, 4-1 victory for the Crusaders over the defending state champions to improve their record to 4-2.
Memorial will have a somewhat lighter schedule over the next two weeks, facing Bishop Guertin High School at home on Tuesday, April 24. They will travel to Exeter on Friday, April 27. They then will host cross-town rivals Manchester West (on Tuesday, May 1) and Trinity High School (on Thursday, May 3). Additional updates on these and other games will be posted in coming weeks.