CONWAY — The MWV U12 All-Stars are the second best 12-and-under Cal Ripken baseball team in the Granite State. The local nine finished second to a familiar rival, Suncook Valley from Pembroke, on Sunday, in Lancaster, falling 8-5 in the finals, and came oh-so-close to forcing and extra game to decide the championship.
“A lot of the people said it was one of the best games they’ve seen in a while,” Andy Pepin, head coach of MWV, said. “The game went back and forth, no errors, just good baseball.”
The game itself took two days to complete. With the contest knotted at 0-0 in the fourth inning on Saturday, a thunderstorm rolled through the area suspending play to Sunday.
Suncook loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning, but MWV, behind the stellar defense, got out of the jam unscathed. Pepin’s troops carried that momentum into the top of the fifth inning where they scored the game’s first run.
The boys from Suncook answered in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead on a two-run homer.
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the sixth, MWV scored four runs to claim a 5-2 lead and were three outs away from forcing one more game, winner takes all. Suncook rallied in the bottom of the inning with two home runs, first to tie the game at 5-5, and then won the game in dramatic fashion with a three-run walk-off home run.
“Suncook is a powerful team,” Pepin said. “It’s been them and us going back and forth all season.”
Suncook edged MWV to win the Farmington Tournament, but MWV topped Suncook to win the Plymouth tourney, only to see Suncook narrowly top MWV for the district title.
“We competed with them all year,” said Pepin.
Members of the MWV squad are Alex Allain, Matt Charrette, Devin Jakubec, Jacob Brown and Sawyer Hussey, David Silva III, Tyler McCluskey, Austin Silvia, Dakota Moss, Matthew Burke Mena, Daven Bailey and Logan Ramsey.
Pepin’s assistant coaches were Derek Moss and David “Doc” Walker.
MWV and Suncook were both 2-0 in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament when they squared off in the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday night. Suncook won this encounter 7-0, pushing MWV into the consolation bracket where it met West Lebanon on Friday night.
MWV trailed Lebanon 8-5 going into the top of the sixth inning when the boys from Conway struck for five runs to lead 10-8. Lebanon scored run in the bottom of the sixth, but it was MWV that advanced to the championship round.
With six players returning to the fold next year, including three of the team’s five starting pitchers from this season, Pepin is excited about the team’s chances in 2020.
"We’re getting closer to the title every year,” he said. “We were in the Top 4 two years ago and Top 2 this year. Next year, hopefully, we can take it one step further. We’re done for the year now, but it’s nice when you’re still playing ball in the middle of July. I’m very proud of what these boy accomplished.”