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Post #72 takes four in a row, final game a forfeit

Legion squad bests Rochester, Laconia, Portsmouth and Plaistow

DANNY MILLER (center) celebrates his homer against Portsmouth with (l to r) Will Chase, Nate Gonya and coach Gary Noyes Sr. (#1). Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 20, 2009
NEW DURHAM — It may have started out a bit auspiciously, but when it ended, it was the most successful week in Alton Post #72 baseball history, as the local boys knocked off the top-ranked team and the defending champions while picking up four wins in five days.

The final of those four wins came on Saturday, June 18, when the kids made the trip south to Plaistow for an afternoon game.

Though Jeff Runnals gave up three hits in the first inning, Post #72 battled back and added one run at a time on the way to a 9-2 win.

In the second, Runnals tripled and scored on a base hit by Danny Miller.

In the third, Jake DiPrizio had a base hit, moved up on a sacrifice groundout by Brendan Hussey and scored on a base hit by Nate Gonya.

In the fifth, Hussey walked, took third on an error and scored on a base hit by Casey Reed.

In the sixth, Miller walked and stole second then came around to score on a base hit by DiPrizio.

Alton added three in the seventh. Gonya had a base hit and stole second, then came around to score on a double by Runnals. Kevin Lee followed with a double to plate Runnals and came around to score when Miller reached on an error.

Alton added some insurance in the eighth, as DiPrizio walked and Reed ripped a two-run homer.

Meanwhile, Runnals settled down after a tough first inning, allowing only four hits the rest of the way, striking out four and walking only one.

"He just got stronger as the game went on," said coach Gary Noyes Sr. He was also helped by a 5-4-3 double play turned by the Alton defense.

The win was the fourth complete game of the week for the Alton pitchers.

The team hit the road to Marshwood High School in South Berwick, Maine on Friday, July 17, for a game with Portsmouth's Booma Post, the defending state champions.

The game moved quickly through the first few innings, as neither team could get on the board.

Alton got back-to-back two-out hits from Gonya and Reed in the top of the first but couldn't score and Reed got through the first without giving up a run, thanks in large part to a great scoop by Will Chase at first base on a throw from shortstop.

Matt Apkarian reached on an error in the second inning, but again, Alton couldn't push the runner across the plate and in the bottom of the second, Portsmouth got on the board, as a double, an error and a base hit produced two runs for the hosts.

Alton again went quietly in the third, as did Portsmouth, though Chase did track down a foul pop up near the fence to help his pitcher out.

Reed ripped a leadoff double in the top of the fourth, but was stranded at second. The Alton hurler got some great defensive help from Hussey at third, Runnals at short and Chase at first in the bottom of the fourth, helping to keep Booma off the board.

Apkarian led off the fifth with a base hit and was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt by Chase. However, Runnals was robbed by the Booma centerfielder and Apkarian never advanced past second base.

Portsmouth added a run on a homer leading off the fifth inning, but a 6-4-3 double play turned by Runnals, Mangum and Chase helped Reed get out of trouble and he struck out the final batter of the inning to keep his team close.

Gonya led off the top of the sixth with a blast to the deepest part of the park in center field. The Alton catcher circled the bases and was on his way to score when he collided with the Booma third baseman. The ump called interference and gave Gonya the plate and Alton was on the board. One out later, DiPrizio had a base hit, Mangum was hit by a pitch and Miller had a base hit to load the bases, but Post #72 couldn't plate another run and still trailed 3-1.

The hosts added another run in the bottom of the inning, but Alton roared back in a big way in the top of the seventh.

With one out, Hussey had a base hit and Gonya walked. Reed plated a run with a base hit and DiPrizio doubled home another, cutting the lead to 4-3. One out later, Miller launched a shot over the left field fence, giving Alton a 6-4 lead, a lead they never relinquished.

Portsmouth got the lead runner on in the bottom of the seventh, but Gonya threw him out trying to steal second and Alton came up with two more in the top of the eighth.

Chase led off with a walk and took second on a base hit by Runnals. Two outs later, Reed lined a base hit to plate Chase and Runnals scored on an infield hit by DiPrizio, making it 8-4.

Mangum and Chase both made strong defensive plays in the bottom of the eighth and Alton kept swinging away in the ninth.

Miller led off with a double and Apkarian bunted him to third. Chase was hit by a pitch and Runnals flied to center to make it 9-4.

The first two Booma batters reached on errors in the bottom of the ninth, but a slick 1-4-3 double play, with Chase coming up with another great scoop at first, quieted the rally and Alton had the 9-4 win, their second win over the defending champs this season.

"We played some pretty good defense out there and got hits when we needed them," Noyes said. "Casey hung really tough and kept them off balance.

"These guys have been coming back the last week," he continued. "They seem to find a way to come back and win."

Noyes praised Gonya for his solid job calling the game behind the plate and also praised Chase and Apkarian for stepping into starting roles and turning in great performances, with Chase shining on defense and Apkarian doing the job on offense.

"Those guys filled in really good," Noyes noted. "They did an outstanding job."

Alton took to the field in Laconia on Wednesday, July 15, against top-seeded Laconia and put on a show of offensive firepower, blasting Post One 16-2 in a game shortened to seven innings by the mercy rule.

Alton jumped out to a quick lead, scoring four runs in the first inning, added two in the second, another five in the third and put it away in the seventh with five more runs on five hits.

"Everybody contributed on offense in this one," Noyes pointed out. "We kind of had them a little stunned."

Lee was the offensive star of the day, belting a three-run homer and scoring three times. Gonya had three RBIs and scored twice, while Reed drove in three and Runnals, Mangum and Corey Courchene each drove in two runs and Hussey scored three times and knocked in a run.

"They're a very good team," Noyes said. "It's tough to beat them at their place."

DiPrizio pitched a complete game, allowing only six hits and four walks.

"Jake pitched a hell of a game," Noyes said, praising his hurler for silencing the potent Laconia offense. "He kept the ball in the ballpark.

"And we played some good defense behind him," the Alton coach added. "They made the plays for him."

On Tuesday, July 14, Alton fell behind early at Rochester, trailing 7-0 by the fourth inning, but rallied back to take an 8-7 win.

Alton plated one in the sixth then added six in the seventh to tie the game at seven.

Gonya had the big hit, a double, in the sixth and in the seventh, Mangum had a base hit, DiPrizio was hit by a pitch and Runnals walked. Gonya reached on an error, Reed had a base hit, Courchene reached on an error and Lee had a base hit, helping Alton to score six times.

Alton took the lead in the top of the eighth, as Miller led off with a base hit and moved up on a DiPrizio sacrifice bunt. Gonya then delivered an RBI base hit to make it 8-7.

Tyler Penney went the distance on the hill for Post #72, and pitched out of a jam in the ninth, as Rochester loaded the bases with one out. He got a huge strikeout and a pop-up to first to end the game.

"He got stronger and that's why I left him in there," Noyes said. "He really settled down."

The lone dark spot on the week was a clubbing at the hands of Dover on the road on Monday, July 13.

"What a thrashing," Noyes said.

Alton was scheduled to finish up its season after deadline Tuesday, July 21, against Plaistow in New Durham. However, Plaistow forfeited the game because of a lack of players. See a season-ending roundup in next week's edition.

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