The Crusaders of Manchester Memorial High School have rallied to win four more games after their win against Salem before losing their final game to finish with a record of 13-5. While many did not expect much from them this year, they now head into the playoffs with strong prospects to advance to the semi-finals and beyond.
The Crusaders began their final two regular season weeks with a “road” game against rival Manchester Central High School at 8:00 P.M. on May 14, 2012. Central was officially the home team in this game, so Memorial batted in the top half of each inning and was listed as the Visitors on the Gill Stadium scoreboard. Central rallied initially with a run in the first inning and two runs in the second, but Memorial came right back in the third. Bryant Bettez and Cody Marchant each led off the 3rd inning with singles. Two batters later, pitcher Zack Beckwith hit a single to drive in Bettez. Then Jacob Boylan hit a single to drive in Marchant. Two batters later, Vinny Langella hit a single to drive in Beckwith. Then Mike Torres reached base on an error, allowing Boylan to score. Chaz Newton then hit a single to load the bases. Bryant Bettez then drew a walk to drive in Langella. Marchant hit a single to drive in Mike Torres, before Newton was thrown out at home for the final out. After this six-run inning, Beckwith remained in the game until the fifth inning, when he was replaced by Warren Silver. Central rallied for an unearned run in the seventh inning, after Silver was replaced by Brandon Hammerstrom who closed the game with a save in the 6-4 win for Memorial.
Two days later, the Crusaders traveled to Alvirne High School on a Wednesday afternoon. Vinny Langella pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits with no walks and striking out six batters in a 5-0 win for Memorial. Four of their runs scored in the top-of-the-1st inning, when Cody Marchant led off the game with a walk. Kevin Gonzales followed with a single, and then they each stole a base to move to 2nd and 3rd. Zack Beckwith then hit a 2-RBI double that allowed each of them to score. Jacob Boylan then reached base after getting hit by a pitch. He and Beckwith again successfully managed a double-steal. This allowed Beckwith to score two batters later on a single by pitcher Langella. Then Mike Torres hit sacrifice fly to drive in Boylan. In the fourth inning, Chaz Newton led off with a single and eventually scored on an infield single by Jacob Boylan. No further runs scored during the game, giving Langella his fourth win of the season and fifteen consecutive innings without allowing any runs.
Then on Friday afternoon, Memorial traveled to Dover High School for the final game of the week. Mike Torres got his fifth start of the year and won his third game, giving up only two hits in six innings pitched. The Crusaders began their rally in the top of the 3rd inning, when Cody Marchant led off with a single that was followed up with another hit by Kevin Gonzales. Both players stole a base, and then Marchant scored on a sacrifice fly by Zack Beckwith. Jacob Boylan then hit a single to drive in Gonzales and give Memorial a solid 2-0 lead. In the sixth inning, Jacob Boylan led off with a walk and stole second base. Two batters later, Vinny Langella hit a double to drive in Boylan. Ivan Valcarcel pinch ran for Langella and scored on a single by Tyler Burke. Then in the seventh inning, Zack Beckwith was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a single by Tyler Burke. Warren Silver came in to pitch the bottom-of-the seventh and close the game for the team that had now improved to 12-4.
The following Monday night, the Memorial played their final regular season home game at Gill Stadium against Keene High School. Zack Beckwith pitched his second complete game and earned his fifth win of the season in what was a 4-2 victory for the Crusaders. Cody Marchant and Kevin Gonzales led off the first inning with hits. Marchant scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Boylan. Gonzales scored on an error. In the fourth inning, Tyler Burke led off with a walk, stole second, and scored on a single by Vinny Langella. Langella further helped the team when he advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and single by Chaz Newton. Newton, while on first base, strategically got into an intentional rundown, allowing Langella to score. This gave the Crusaders insurance for the remainder of the game, when Keene rallied for two runs but were held hitless for the final two innings in what was the 13th win of the season for Memorial.
The final regular season game for the Crusaders occurred at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton on Wednesday, May 23. Memorial rallied early in the game when Tyler Burke led off the 2nd inning with a walk. Two batters later, Mike Torres hit a single. Catcher Aaron Mersereau was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Chaz Newton then received a fielder’s choice RBI that scored Burke. Cody Marchant hit a single to drive in Torres. In the 3rd inning, Zack Beckwith led off with a double and was driven home on another double by Jacob Boylan. This gave Memorial a 3-2 lead, but Winnacunnet rallied with ten runs in the next three innings to win by a lopsided score of 12-3.
The Crusaders have obtained the #4 seed in the Division 1 baseball tournament, behind Concord, Nashua North, and Merrimack. They will host #13 seed Salem at home on Thursday, May 31. If they win this game, they will likely host #5 seed Timberlane Regional on Saturday, June 2. Playoff information and results, as well as insight from various team members will be posted in the near future.