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Joyce Endee

500 strong

Alex Milford's base hit in 10th gives Kennett coach Bob Burns his 500th career win

THE KENNETT BASEBALL TEAM celebrates coach Bob Burns’ 500th win on May 26 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
May 30, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — It was only fitting that the big win was a little dramatic.

The Kennett baseball team gave coach Bob Burns his 500th career win by rallying for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning against St. Thomas on May 26.

Moments after the apparent tying run was waved off on an appeal, Kennett's Alex Milford drove a one-out base hit to right center to score Adam Murata and Matt Gadomski, capping off an exciting evening of baseball on the Kennett diamond.

"The kids take my breath away," Burns said after being honored for his milestone by players, family and friends. "They just played great. The kids just rose to the occasion."

St. Thomas first appeared to take the lead in the top of the eighth, but the runner was called out for missing third when Kennett's Scott Conner called for an appeal.

After the Saints did take the lead in the 10th, Kennett appeared to tie the game on a wild pitch, but the play was ruled a foul ball and Murata had to retreat back to third base.

It didn't matter, however, as Milford drove both batters home on the next pitch to set off the celebration.

"I give the credit so much to these kids," Burns said. "They just wouldn't let it go."

St. Thomas pushed across the game's first run in the first inning off Nick Massa, but Kennett didn't let that last long, as they plated three in the second inning.

Nick Kevlin led off with a base hit and Henney Sullivan entered as a pinch runner. Sean Perley then doubled and a double from Josh Drew drove both runners home. After a base hit from Conner, Matt Gadomski's base hit drove home Drew for a 3-1 lead, through Conner was thrown out trying to score.

St. Thomas fought right back in the top of the third, using four hits and a walk to plate the tying runs and then a groundout to take a 4-3 lead.

Kennett answered in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Drew led off with his second double of the game. Conner doubled him home to tie the game at four and after a sacrifice groundout for Murata and a walk to Gadomski, an infield hit from Austin Weber plated the go-ahead run. A sacrifice fly from Milford made it a 6-4 game.

Massa started a 1-6-3 double play to get out of trouble in the top of the fifth, but in the sixth, St. Thomas tied the game on a couple of extra base hits. However, a nice throw from Vince Patch in right to Weber at second and on to Conner at third gunned down one St. Thomas runner and kept them from taking the lead.

The Saints put two runners in scoring position with two outs in the seventh, but Massa got a pop fly to right to get out of the jam.

Kennett threatened in the seventh, as Kevlin reached with one out and made second on the error. Kenny Drew ran for him and after a balk moved him up a base and a grounder to the mound got the inning's second out, Josh Drew and Conner were both walked intentionally to load the bases and the Saints got out of the jam with a grounder to second.

Perley took over on the hill in the eighth and after an error put a runner on, a double appeared to untie the game. However, Conner noticed the runner missed third and on appeal, he was called out. Perley then got a fly out and a foul out to get out of the inning.

Gadomski led off the bottom of the eighth with a double but was left on base and St. Thomas got their first two runners on in the ninth and couldn't score.

However, in the 10th, a triple and double plated a run for the visitors and gave them a 7-6 lead. Perley got two big strikeouts to get out of further damage in the inning, leaving his team in the position of needing just one run to tie.

Murata led off with a base hit and Gadomski reached on an error. A perfect sacrifice bunt by Weber moved both runners up and Murata appeared to tie the game on the aforementioned wild pitch. However, he was sent back to third, setting the stage for Milford's walk-off and Burns' 500th career win.

"They're good athletes, good baseball guys and they know the game," Burns said of his squad.

The veteran coach first took the helm of the Eagles in 1971 and current Kennett coaches Brian Day and Peter Ames were both part of his first team.

"It's tough to do," Burns said of the record, but noted longevity was the key.

The Eagle coach is already the winningest high school baseball coach in state history.

The Eagles picked up a 6-4 win at Laconia on Tuesday, May 24, for the 499th win of Burns' career, as the Eagles plated three runs in the first and handed the Sachems their first home loss of the season. Kennett scored once in the second and untied the game in the fourth with a pair of runs.

Kennett finished at 9-7 on the year and will begin the Division II tournament today, June 2, on the road. Brackets were not released as of deadline, but check www.facebook.com/pages/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro/ for playoff updates as they become available.

The tournament continues on Saturday, June 4, at 4 p.m. at the home of the higher seed and moves to Memorial Field in Concord for the semifinals on Thursday, June 9, and Friday, June 10.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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