Valley news – Hanover baseball extends winning streak to 7 games
Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 05/03/2021 21:57:16
Modified: 5/3/2021 21:57:15 PM
NORWICH – If ever there was a season of baseball where being good can be good enough, John Grainger thinks it could be.
His Hanover High side won’t really know what to expect at the NHIAA Division II national tournament, even as the sixth-year coach asks his peers for information. So Grainger’s gang is doing what they are basically doing right and looking no further than the next enemy.
After four tough first hitters, Hanover starting pitcher Wes Stocken calmed down, recorded 14 straight strikeouts and guided his mates to an 11-3 victory on Monday at Dresden Athletic Fields. The hosts methodically took down the Young Cardinals (2-2) after falling through a quick 3-0 hole, ultimately scoring 11 hits against four Stevens pitchers.
Monday night’s D-II standings listed seven undefeated teams. Of these, Hanover leads the standings with 7-0.
“I don’t know what Wes’s bullet is doing, but it’s not going all right,” Grainger said afterward. “He’s got a really good slider, curveball, whatever you want to call it. So it’s good that they responded. They came back. They immediately put a race on the board. Baseball won on big innings, and we put some big ones up there.
Hanover used a three-point second to end his early rally and put the game in his pocket with a four-point sixth. Header Ben Williams doubled, trebled, scored twice and led in three runs to propel the home side, which also had two-hitting games from Sam Sacerdote, John Hill and Mason Gantrish.
“The first four hitters of the game, my approach was mostly off speed, and then I was working in the fastpitch,” said Stocken, who struck out five goals, walked one, gave five hits and threw only. 65 throws in six innings. “After doing a few plays that we could have done a little better, I tried to reverse my approach: start the fastball, then work the fastball. It seemed to work the rest of the time.
The Cards got off to an ideal start against Stocken, who struggled early with a somewhat muddy mound, and a Hanover defense in need of a wake-up call.
Zack Bundy reached on an error, Dylan Chambers chose deep shorts and Ty Theriault worked a four-length walk. After clean-up hitter Owen Taylor shot a 0-2 down center right for a two-run brace, Grainger walked over to the bump to deliver a soothing message to Stocken.
“He’s a pretty emotional player,” Grainger said. “He’s really in it. In this game you have to try to stay on an even pin because you can’t do it for seven consecutive innings. I told him to settle down. He would throw a good shot and say, “Yes! and I was like, ‘Cut it out; you can’t be that committed. “
A delayed double steal against a sleepy defense provided a third run for Stevens, but Stocken stopped the visitors after that. The Cards didn’t get their next move until a simple Bundy bloop in the fifth, when Hanover definitely had the lead.
“Owen is the only player I have with college experience heading into the season,” said Stevens coach Paul Silva. “We knew we were going to have a hard time growing with younger guys getting experience at the varsity level, but I’ve been really happy with the way we’ve hit the ball so far this season. Then (Stocken) settled in and started a good game.
Williams doubled up and scored on Hill’s RBI home first single to get Hanover on the board. The second-year speedster’s two-point triple in the second tied the game at 3-3, and a Sacerdote infielder hit Williams with the eventual winning run.
Williams and Hill went 6-3 with RBIs in the fourth. Gantrish’s simple scoring to the right – one of the plethora of opposite field connections for Hanover – pushed the odds up to fifth. Casey Graham and Tom Davis had points in the sixth at home.
Stocken and Sacerdote give Grainger interchangeable options on the hill. Williams has speed to burn on the basepaths. The list is full of juniors but full of experience. Hanover just doesn’t know what the rest of the state has. Again.
“I’ve emailed the coaches to try and figure out what the state looks like,” Grainger said. “The general consensus I’ve gotten so far is that it looks like a pretty tough year in terms of talent.
It’s good for us. Was good. It’s a good year to be good. “
Greg Fennell can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3226.