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Bears hungry for more

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Junior Greg Hunt is expected to see time in a variety of spots for the Bears this spring. File Photo. (click for larger version)
April 14, 2014
TILTON At its simplest form, baseball is supposed to a fun game. But two years ago, there wasn't a lot of fun to be had for the Winnisquam Regional High School baseball team. The Bears won just four games after three straight trips to the Final Four.

Luckily, the misery was short-lived, as Winnisquam rebounded in a big way in 2013. The squad went 12-6 overall, winning a playoff game against Farmington before falling just shy to top-seeded Laconia in the quarterfinals.

"Last year was fun again," admitted Winnisquam skipper Fred Caruso. "We still have some leftovers from that team (in 2012) and those kids don't want to go back to that. That left a sour taste in everyone's mouths. Are we going to be able to replicate the success we had last season? I don't have a crystal ball. But these guys have worked hard throughout the winter and hopefully that translates into the year."

The Bears graduated seven seniors, including top of the rotation pitchers in Caleb Hutchins and Austin Hunt. Veterans Parker Normand and Curtis Archibald also graduated, meaning there are several holes in the lineup that need to be filled this spring.

Senior Dominic DeBlasie headlines the returning unit, and the team's starting catcher was a First-Team All-State selection after a breakout junior season. DeBlasie headlines a senior class that consists of five players, including outfielders Ben Wentworth and Cam McKinnon, second baseman Jordan Dahl and third baseman/outfielder Dakota Tyno.

The junior class has some familiar faces, led by center fielder Tucker Normand. While Normand covers a lot of ground in the outfield, he will also be a big piece of the pitching rotation along with DeBlasie.

"We have a pretty decent group coming back but the one main issue is we threw 123 innings last year in total and we graduated 100 of those innings," Caruso explained. "Those other 23 innings were from Dom (DeBlasie) but ideally we'd like to keep him behind the plate as much as we can. We're going to be very young on the mound but the guys that we have worked really hard in the offseason to hone their skills and get better."

Junior Greg Hunt returns and will play third base and catcher in addition to several other potential landing spots. Classmate Torrey Martinez is back at shortstop and will see a little time on the mound as well. Fellow junior Cam Chatfield (1B) rounds out the class.

Sophomore outfielder Jack Decormier was on the club as a freshman and returns, while Tim Harmon will certainly make his presence felt in several positions (P/1B/CF).

Two freshmen round out the roster, as Mikey Lowery (P/1B/2B) and Hunter Tierney (P/IF) will both look to contribute as rookies, including on the mound.

"We don't like to keep freshmen up to sit them," Caruso said. "They'll be in the mix and get their share of playing time. Especially on the mound, it'll be baptism by fire with these guys. These two freshmen have played in a number of really good AAU programs and they came in and opened our eyes during tryouts. We feel pretty confident that even though they're really young, they'll be competitive for us."

While the late-melting snow made outdoor practice time difficult, Caruso is excited about the work his team did put in when they were stuck inside the gym.

"I like the makeup of our team," the skipper said. "We have so many interchangeable parts so many guys can play multiple positions and can play them well. Defensively I think we'll be very good, and we'll be above average speed on the bases. We've been absolutely crushing the ball in the cage. Will that translate? I hope it does."

The Bears were slated to open their regular season schedule with games against White Mountains and Gilford after deadline this week, and they'll travel to Kearsarge for a road tilt on Friday.

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