'Magnificent Seven' wrap up career for Raiders
Seven-member senior class graduates from Belmont baseball team
|Senior outfielder Taylor Morrill turned into one of the most reliable players on the Belmont roster for coach Matt LeBlanc this spring. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)|
June 27, 2011BELMONT – The seven seniors on the Belmont High School baseball team put together quite a season this spring, as the Red Raiders finished the year 9-8 overall despite a 1-4 start.
"They made life very easy for me," said BHS coach Matt LeBlanc of the Class of 2011. "It was very enjoyable to show up as coach every day with those guys. It was a good group of guys and they set the tone for our team, setting a great example for our younger guys."
First baseman Chris Brace was the team's leadoff hitter, and his defensive abilities created quite the safety net for the Raiders.
"Chris is a dynamite first baseman," LeBlance said. "He would just scoop balls out of the dirt for a living. He's a hard worker and he's his hardest critic, but the type of kid you love to have on your team."
Taylor Morrill played all over for Belmont, but he turned into one of the better centerfielders in Division III.
"Taylor just loves baseball," said LeBlanc. "He started the year in left field and we didn't know where he was gonna go. We moved him to center and he was fantastic, which is kind of a shame that we found out so late. The Somersworth coach told me how much he liked our center fielder so other coaches recognized it as well."
Bobby Cozzens was one of Belmont's top pitchers, and he also provided a steady glove at shortstop when he wasn't on the mound. Cozzens didn't strike out all season in 54 plate appearances, as his on base percentage hovered around .500.
"We didn't have a captain but I saw a lot of leadership qualities in Bobby," LeBlanc said. "The kids really respect Bobby and he comes to practice and works hard. He never wasted a strike and always put the ball in play."
Jake Bryant gave Belmont a jack of all trades, as he played some outfield, first base and pitched.
"The most important thing about Jake was that he kept things very light," explained LeBlanc. "He's a funny kid but you build a relationship with him and you know that he cares. He's a smart kid – was third in his class – so he brought a lot to the table."
Josh Romprey was a part of the outfield rotation, and he came up with some clutch hits when called into duty.
"Josh has come a very long way from when he was on the middle school and JV teams," said LeBlanc. "He became a very reliable outfielder for us and he made a huge catch against Gilford that really helped us pull that game out."
A basketball star in the winter, Richie Perez decided to join the baseball team for the first time since seventh grade this spring. The results were quite good, as Perez hit .455 with a .583 on base percentage.
"I wish he hadn't waited until his senior year to come out for the team," said LeBlanc. "If he had been able to play the last few years, he would've developed into a very good player."
Shaun Guertin rounds out the senior class, as Guertin overcame an unfortunate injury before the season to play well in the last few games of the season. Guertin was 2-for-3 in Belmont's playoff game after missing the first half of the season with hydrocele after being hit by a ball in the midsection.
"He loves baseball so you feel really bad that he had a drastically shortened season," said LeBlanc. "He only got 24 plate appearances but he showed what he's capable of in that last game of the year."