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Alton Legion squad falls in first two

CATCHER NATE GONYA has the plate blocked as Laconia’s Derrick Sylvester tries to slide home. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 22, 2010
ALTON — One day it was heavy offense, the next day it was solid pitching.

However, both days turned out the same, as the Alton Legion Post #72 baseball team dropped its first two games of the season.

The boys opened the home season at Prospect Mountain High School against Laconia under the sweltering sun on Sunday afternoon and things were relatively quiet through the first few innings.

Alton hurler Jake DiPrizio shut down the Post 1 bats in order in the first inning. Nate Gonya and DiPrizio both reached on errors in the bottom of the first, but they were stranded on the bases. DiPrizio gave up a walk in the top of the second, but a nice play by shortstop Jeff Runnals helped get the final out of the inning.

Joe Grasso got the game's first hit in the bottom of the second inning, but he was stranded as well.

DiPrizio continued to pitch well into the third, getting his first strikeout and setting the visitors down in order.

In the bottom of the inning, the Alton boys got on the board. With one out, Runnals knocked a base hit and stole second. Gonya, DiPrizio and Moose Bourdeau drew consecutive walks to plate Runnals with the game's first run. However, the hosts couldn't get any more runs and had to settle for the 1-0 lead.

Laconia came back and put a run on the board in the top of the fourth, but did so without the benefit of a hit. DiPrizio hit the first batter and the next two hitters walked, loading the bases with nobody out. A grounder to second forced one runner, but another scored from third to tie the game. DiPrizio then got a foul pop to Gonya, who made a nice play near the backstop and a grounder to third ended the frame.

Brendan Hussey walked with two outs in the fourth, but he was stranded on first. DiPrizio pitched out of trouble in the top of the fifth, as a walk and a pickoff error gave Laconia an early scoring chance. The Alton hurler settled down and got a foul pop up to Gonya behind the plate, a strikeout and a grounder to short to get out of the inning.

DiPrizio doubled with one out in the fifth, but again the timely hit was lacking, as he was stranded on second.

Laconia made a bid to take the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, DiPrizio issued a walk and a wild pitch moved the runner to second. One out later, Laconia got its first hit of the game, a liner to left and the runner on second tried to score. Grasso came up throwing from left, hitting Hussey, who in turn fired to Gonya to gun down the runner trying to score for the final out of the inning.

Alton then took the lead in the bottom of the inning, thanks mostly to the hustle of Grasso. He reached on an infield hit to start the inning and stole second. One out later he moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch to make it 2-1.

Hussey took over on the mound in the seventh for Alton and issued a one-out walk. One out later, a Laconia hitter launched what appeared to be a pop fly to right center field, but the ball kept carrying and fell on the other side of the fence, giving Laconia its first lead at 3-2.

The visitors took advantage of a couple of errors in the top of the eighth inning and were able to plate two more runs to up the lead to 5-2.

Post #72 put two runners on in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, as Hussey and Runnals earned back-to-back walks, but they were stranded and Laconia had the 5-2 win.

"The bottom line is unless you win 2-1, you're not going to win with two runs," coach Bubba Noyes said. "I think that homer deflated us just enough."

The Post #72 coach praised DiPrizio's gutsy effort on the mound, allowing just the one hit, but pitching out of trouble much of the afternoon.

"He kept them off balance enough," Noyes said.

A day earlier, the season got off to a rocky start for Post #72, as Portsmouth leaped out to a 10-0 lead after three innings.

However, Alton roared back and eventually cut the lead to two before falling by a 14-11 score.

Portsmouth held an 11-6 lead heading to the eighth inning. Hussey tripled and scored on a double by Runnals. Gonya singled in Runnals and then scored on a DiPrizio single, cutting the gap to 11-9. Wes Fisher stepped to the plate and lined a shot back up the middle, but the pitcher made a great snag for the third out of the inning.

Gonya crushed his second homer of the day in the top of the ninth inning after Portsmouth upped the lead to 14-9, but it wasn't quite enough.

Noyes praised Ethan Henderson, who came on in relief of Runnals in the third inning and pitched well the rest of the way.

"Ethan really pitched well," Noyes said of the youngster's Legion debut. "Jeff had a tough time; he gave up more walks than normal.

"We're close. Hopefully we can pull one of these out," he continued.

Alton will be in action in a doubleheader on Saturday, June 26, against Plaistow. The first game begins at noon. On Wednesday, June 30, the boys head to Dover for a 5:15 p.m. start. On Thursday, July 1, the team will play Sweeney Post at Gill Stadium in Manchester at 7 p.m.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Garnett Hill
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