THE SUNCOOK Cal Ripken 12U team finished as state runners-up. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 14, 2014LANCASTER — After traveling hundreds of miles over the course of the last week, the Suncook Valley 12U Cal Ripken team earned a berth in the state championship game, but a hard-hitting Oyster River team was able to beat Suncook twice in the finals to claim the state title.
After winning two games over the weekend, Suncook advanced to the semifinals and took on host Great North Woods on Tuesday, July 8, at Colonel Town Park.
Things got off to a great start, as leadoff hitter Devin Bedell doubled to right center field. However, he was stranded there.
Josh Planchet got the start on the hill for Suncook and got some help from catcher Chris Daniels, who gunned down a runner stealing second, allowing Suncook to get out of the inning despite giving up three hits in the frame.
Daniels and Calvin Michael both worked walks in the top of the second, but they were both stranded there as well.
A Suncook error allowed a Great North Woods runner to get to third base in the bottom of the second, but Planchet induced a grounder to first to end the inning.
Nolan Sykes worked a one-out walk in the top of the third and Jeff Wagner reached on an error. After Ryker Burke grounded out to move them up, Daniels lined what looked like a base hit, but the GNW second baseman made a fantastic grab to end the inning.
Planchet helped his own cause by snaring a line drive and turning into a double play in the bottom of the third. In the top of the fourth, Michael was hit by a pitch and Hayden Drew walked, but again, the runners were stranded.
Suncook finally got on the board in the top of the fifth inning. Sykes reached on an error and Wagner followed with a base hit. One out later, Daniels drove in Sykes with a base hit. After Cassidy moved both runners up on a groundout, Michael reached on an error to drive in Wagner with the second run of the game for Suncook.
However, GNW came right back in the bottom of the fifth with a little two-out magic, plating two runs, one on a wild pitch and another on an error. Daniels was able to gun down a runner stealing second to end the inning.
Suncook came right back in the top of the sixth. Drew and Bedell reached to open the inning, but they were both forced at third on grounders by Sykes and Wagner. However, a Burke base hit plated Sykes with the third run. Daniels reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases and a Cassidy double cleared the bases for a 5-2 lead.
Planchet then set the side down in order in the top of the sixth to send Suncook into the finals.
Taking on Oyster River on Thursday, July 10, Suncook Valley sent Bedell to the hill and Oyster River was able to plate four runs in the top of the first inning. Sykes made a fantastic catch falling over the fence in the top of the first. However, another ball cleared the fence for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead for Oyster River.
Suncook answered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Sykes doubled to right and a Burke base hit drove him in to cut the lead to 4-1. However, Oyster River came back with four more runs in the top of the second inning, taking advantage of five hits and two walks in the inning.
Suncook loaded the bases on walks to Drew and Sykes and a base hit by Bedell in the bottom of the inning, with Drew scoring on an infield hit by Wagner to make it 8-2.
Oyster River clubbed another homer in the top of the third to make it 10-2 before Sykes placed Bedell on the hill. Oyster River continued, plating two more runs in the inning to make it 12-2 before the inning was over.
Oyster River added two more runs in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of doubles and Suncook went down in order in the bottom of the fourth and the game finished with the 14-2 score.
With the Oyster River win, the teams were scheduled to play again on Friday, but both teams and the umpires agreed to play a second game on Thursday to avoid another travel day.
Wagner got the start on the hill and a pitcher's duel ensued over the first four innings. Wagner hit a batter in the first inning, walked one in the second and one Suncook error allowed another runner in the second, but neither team was able to score. Cassidy was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the second, but he was stranded. Bedell made a nice play in the top of the third to help Wagner get out of the inning.
Oyster River got on the board in the top of the fourth. With two outs, a double and an error plating the first run of the game. However, Suncook came right back and threatened to take the lead.
With one out, Wagner beat out an infield hit, Burke had a base hit and a Daniels infield hit loaded the bases, with Cody Willette taking over on the bases. After a force play at the plate, Michael drew a walk to tie the game, but Suncook left the bases loaded.
Oyster River came through in a big way in the top of the fifth. An infield hit, a walk, a sacrifice fly and a double drove in two runs before Planchet replaced Wagner on the hill. Another error allowed a run to score and a walk and a wild pitch put another run in for a 5-1 lead for Oyster River.
Sykes and Wagner worked two-out walks in the bottom of the fifth, but they were both stranded. Oyster River threatened again in the top of the sixth, but a great throw by Burke gunned down a runner at second from right, a nice play by Cassidy at first ended the inning.
Daniels was robbed on a great play by the Oyster River second baseman in the bottom of the sixth. Cassidy had a base hit, but he was stranded on a strikeout and fly ball to left, giving Oyster River the 5-1 win and the state championship.
The Suncook team includes Nate Cassidy, Josh Planchet, Hayden Drew, Brennan Lavigne, Cody Willette, Calvin Michael, Ryan Dube, Chris Daniels, Ryker Burke, Jeff Wagner, Nolan Sykes and Devin Bedell. The team is coached by Tom Drew, Chip Wagner and Ken Michael.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org