Promising I-L baseball season comes to difficult end
|The Inter-Lakes High School baseball team finished its season 9-8 overall, falling to Hillsboro-Deering, 1-0, in the Division III play-in round. File photo. (click for larger version)|
June 07, 2011MEREDITH – A typical solid outing from Brandon Krueger usually leads to a win for the Inter-Lakes High School baseball team.
Hillsboro-Deering had other ideas however.
Winless and 23rd-seeded H-D came into Meredith and pulled out a shocking 1-0 win over the number 10 Lakers, ending I-L's promising season before it could even get going in the play-in round of the Division III tournament on May 27 at Prescott Park.
"Certainly not the way we had hoped it would end," said I-L coach Vint Choiniere. "I can say with full confidence that we in no way looked past that game. We talked a lot about it all week leading up to it. The practice sessions were good and I think we were on task. There's no explaining how we can go into a game like that getting three hits though."
Singles from Conor Langille, Willie True and Brian Borders were the only offense I-L was able to muster against H-D. It was a far cry from a Lakers squad that pounded out 14 and 15 hits in consecutive games just two weeks prior.
"Their pitcher threw strikes, was aggressive – we simply didn't hit enough that game to score runs," Choiniere said. "And we made a couple errors on the bases that hurt us just because the game was so tight."
Krueger put together a good effort on the mound for I-L, as the sophomore lefty allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out seven in his complete game loss.
"He pitched another good, solid game," said Choiniere. "I think we were all left with some kind of hollow, empty feeling with the outcome though."
While success in the regular season led to a 9-7 record heading into playoffs, the Lakers were indeed left with unanswered questions following the early exit.
"How can you explain that this lineup would battle (Winnisquam ace) Jordan Cote to take a 3-2 lead against him into the last inning just a few games ago, but can only manage three hits," Choiniere said. "I think it's just one of those things where that's the game, that's what happens sometimes. There was a very high percentage of upsets in that round. It doesn't make you feel any better of course, but I think it just shows on any given day, anyone can win a game."
There was little sign of trouble with the way I-L ended its regular season, as the regular season finale saw the team pull off a convincing 14-2 win over rival Moultonboro Academy.
"We were very confident going in," said Choiniere. "No doubt you could feel a little bit of tenseness as the game went on, we just couldn't crack through.
"I still consider this season successful with all the challenges we've been faced with," he continued. "In those terms, we're happy, but we certainly would've loved a shot to see what we could've done. It's hard – tough one to swallow."
H-D would go on to drop a one-run game to number seven Conant, 7-6, in the preliminary round, proving the winless squad wasn't a fluke.
"They had some competitive games during the regular season," the skipper said. "So when you coach as long as I have, we've all been there, been in those shoes. I've seen it from both sides. Again, doesn't make it any easier though."