Hello to all of you sports fans out there. There is lots of local playoff action to report on but before that, it should be mentioned that Berlin's Gwen Pelchat qualified for the prestigious NHIAA Meet of Champions Track and Field competition in the 300-meter Intermediate Hurdles held last weekend and she did herself proud with a 10th place finish with a time of 51.14 seconds.
Also, there will be a Berlin Youth Hockey fundraiser first Annual 5K road race this coming Saturday, June 12, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Ed Fenn School in Gorham. Put that on your calendar and further information will be published here in the Sun's Thursday edition. In the meantime, for further information contact April Marsh at the school.
GORHAM HIGH SOFTBALL
Congratulations to the Gorham High aoftball team who, by virtue of two big wins, an 18-16 preliminary win over Littleton and a 6-2 victory over Colebrook, will now advance to the Division 4 semifinals against Woodsville in Concord on Wednesday.
In the win over Littleton, there were a total of 34 runs scored, 29 hits, 10 errors, including seven by the Huskies and nine walks issues by both teams. Things were looking good after the visiting Huskies scored two runs, but Littleton countered with nine runs of their own in the bottom half of the second, thanks in part to some bloopers and four Gorham errors.
Coach Chris Partenope's team bounced right back to make it a game when they scored five runs in the third putting Gorham down 9-7. One more run in the fourth and three more in the fifth gave the Huskies an 11-9 lead, but they proceeded to surrender five to the Crusaders to trail 14-11. Two runs crossed the plate for the Huskies in the top of the sixth to make it a one-run deficit, but Littleton gave themselves a two-run cushion with a run of their own in the bottom half to push the score to 15-13.
That set up a dramatic top of the seventh inning when Gorham plated five runs to lead 18-15. Amber Wilson walked, and eventually scored on a wild pitch, Zoe Grondin singled, Olivia O'Neal singled, Jess Burton was hit by a pitch, Halery Desilets singled in two runs and Bry Poirier singled in two more runs for an 18-15 lead. With one out in the bottom half of the seventh, a Littleton hitter singled and eventually scored on an infield putout and then Poirier struck out the number four-hitter to send her team into the quarterfinals on Saturday. It was truly a team effort as all nine starters contributed offensively starting with Sarah Godin who was on base three times, including two hits and reaching on an error. Winning pitcher Poirier had two hits, including a big triple and the two-run single in the seventh. Emma Bernier went three for four, plus reaching on an error, Wilson was two for two with a walk, Grondin contributed a sacrifice fly and a single, Burton was 2-2 and also reached on two walks and was also hit by a pitch, Desilets contributed a walk and a big two-run single in the seventh, Madi Buteau was two for two and also walked, and O'Neil walked twice.
Coach Partenope gave her team "Lots of credit as they kept their heads up even after being down by seven runs after two innings and being down by two runs going into the final frame. They just kept battling back." Battling back they did and it earned them the right to host Colebrook at Libby Field this past Saturday where the magic continued with a 6-2 win.
A big four-run second inning was all the Huskies needed to advance. Emma Bernier singled, Amber Wilson walked, Olivia O'Neil was hit by a pitch, and then Jess Burton had a two-run single. A wild pitch and a walk to Halery Desilets loaded the bases for Sarah Godin who singled in one run, and after Madi Buteau walked to load the bases again, eventual winning pitcher Bry Poirier helped her cause with a run-scoring single. Gorham was up by a score of 4-0. They added the final two runs when Burton singled, Desilets had a successful sacrifice bunt, moving Burton to second. Godin continued her magic with an RBI single, Buteau drew another walk and Poirier plated the sixth and final run of the game with another single.
Colebrook did not mount much offense but did score their two runs in the top half of the fifth inning thanks to a single, a Gorham error, a walk and another error, all with one out until Poirier settled down to get the next two hitters with no more damage done.
For the second straight game, the Huskies bats were on fire. Desilets was two for two, Godin was two for four with two RBI, Poirier not only was superb on the mound, giving up two runs on two hits with only one free pass and five strikeouts but was 2-4 at the plate, with an RBI. Bernier was also two for four and Burton had two hits and two RBI. Defense was a key also to this win as Wilson played great at shortstop, with four assists and two putouts, including the game-ending one on a bloop hit headed for center field. First baseman Zoe Grondin had 12 putouts at her position and had a couple of great stretches to snag runners at first base on close calls.
An elated Coach Partenope was impressed with her team, saying "They were super focused throughout the game and played with great confidence. This game offered lots of great softball and now we head to Concord to play Woodsville, at 4:00 p.m., in the Division 4 semifinals!"
BERLIN HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
After Berlin's 12-2 win over Newfound in the opening round of Division III softball tournament, the Mountaineers traveled to Belmont the next day only to suffer in the bottom of the seventh, with a walk-off 6-5 win by the hosts to end their season dramatically.
One highlight of that disappointing loss to Belmont was senior Grace Bradley's Sports Center Top 10 Plays that's right folks, "Sports Center Top 10 Plays." The game was broadcast over NorthEastSports Network and the home-run-robbing catch, caught their eye and someone sent it in to ESPN and they included it the next morning.
In talking to a very humble Grace at the baseball game, she was disappointed in the loss to Belmont, which proved to be her last game in a BHS uniform of any kind. She was "surprised about the coverage of the catch and I was so focused on making the catch that I did not realize it was anything special until I heard the crowd cheering like crazy. Later at home, I did hear that there were 4,000 or so viewers of the catch on NSN.
"I couldn't sleep, was getting all kinds of texts and eventually got in touch with my grandfather to find out if he knew what was going on. We did find out it was a Top 10 highlight and I am grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and even though we did lose the game, it was pretty cool to have my catch publicized like that."
Not only was she grateful but also very humble in all of this new notoriety.
Coach Rollie Poirier said, "That game at Belmont was a tough way to lose but I am very proud of these girls. We had two starters returning from the 2019 season so I really didn't know what to expect. We had contributions from up and down the lineup including home runs from six different girls. We had big wins this year, including a 2-0 shut out of our rival White Mountains and giving Woodsville most likely its only loss of this season.
"I am looking forward to next year but we will have to so without our seven Seniors. Kira Woodward, Emily Coulombe, Aeris Costine Aubree Poirier, Makenna Balderrama, Grace Bradley, Nicole Reynolds and manager Shaun Goyette."
BERLIN HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Coach Dan Mackin's Berlin High baseball team defeated Inter-Lakes 8-3 in the first round of the NHIAA playoffs (no details available at press time) and then hosted and lost a heartbreaker to White Mountains Regional 11-6, after having a slim one-run lead, 5-4, going into the top of the seventh, when the Spartans scored seven runs to win and advance to the Division III semifinals this coming week.
The visitors scored a run in the first inning but Berlin scored two in the bottom half of inning number two, thanks to a walk to Kam Huntoon, who advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Dom Paradis. Paradis eventually scored after Jake Mercier walked and another wild pitch.
The Spartans tied it up in the third inning and went ahead 3-2 with another run in the fourth.
Berlin, however, had a chance to do some damage in the bottom of the third inning when Tyler Rousseau singled. He was safe on two pick-off attempts but was then thrown out when trying to advance to third on a single by Carter Poulin.
Berlin did come right back with three runs in their half of the fourth, starting with a Huntoon single, followed by a fielder's choice for Jeremyah Dow and another single off the bat of Mercier. Ben Estrella doubled to left scoring Dow and Kolin Melanson had a big two-run single to put the Mountaineers up 5-3.
White Mountains kept pecking away and scored one run in the top of the fifth to narrow the gap to 5-4. Surprisingly the Spartans had two hits in each of the first five innings but only managed four runs. Things looked really bad for the hosts in the top half of inning number six when the leadoff man was hit by a pitch, but starting pitcher Huntoon bore down and struck out the next batter before an error on a throw from the shortstop to force a runner at second ended up in right field.
After a stolen base, the Spartans had runners at second and third with one out, however, Paradis made a great catch in left and threw a high-arching throw to home, which missed the cut-off man and ended up in Mercier's glove for a 7-2 inning-ending double play, leaving the home town fans with some excitement.
Paradis, after that catch and throw to end the inning, led off the bottom of the sixth, with hopes of adding two that slim one-run lead. He took a called third strike, as did the next hitter before Mercier was hit by a pitch. Brady Poulin then entered the contest as a pinch-runner. A popup to shortstop ended the inning and set up a disastrous top of the seventh that ended Berlin's season.
In the top of the seventh, the leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch and then stole second. This was followed by a walk and an error on an attempted bare-handed play off a bunt by Huntoon. Next, a bunt was fielded by the catcher Jake Mercier and he tagged the plate with his glove and ball. The umpire initially called the runner safe, but the call was changed to the first out of the inning.
Dow then came in to relieve Huntoon with the bases loaded and one out. A walk forced in the tying run and then the Spartans executed three straight bunts, for a total of four for the inning, a number of them of the suicide-squeeze nature.
Dow slipped fielding the next bunt with the go-ahead run-scoring, and the final bunt resulted in a safe call, even though it appeared to be a force play at home.
The Spartans were rolling and Berlin could not stop things.
A legitimate single scored another run and a double scored two more. A bases-loaded walk scored another. When the inning mercilessly ended, after Carter Poulin came in and struck out two in a row, the visitors from Whitefield had amassed seven runs leaving all the Berlin players, coaches and fans stunned.
The Mountaineers managed to score one run when senior Rousseau singled, Poulin singled and the first baseman dropped a throw. A fly ball to right ended the game and the season for Berlin.
Huntoon was the hard-luck losing pitcher, while sophomore Karter Deming was the winner with a superb effort on the mound for the Spartans giving up five runs on six hits. He was relieved by Brenden White late in the game.