MANCHESTER, N.H. — Tom Corey was making his fourth start in two years against archrival Pinkerton. And not only will his title-winning gem be the high school start he remembers most, it also was the one his coach predicted for him long ago.
Corey, who split a pair of decisions with the Astros during this year’s regular season, also knocked off Pinkerton in last year tournament, a 2-1 semifinal victory. But it was after Londonderry’s tough, championship-game loss to Exeter when the seeds were sown for yesterday’s showdown.
“(Coach Brent) Demas actually did tell me (I’d be pitching in this year’s title match),” Corey said after his five-hit, complete-game masterpiece. “He looked at me and said ‘You’ll be in this situation next year.’ That gave me a good feeling coming into this game. I was confident on the mound.”
A tough-luck No. 2 behind ace Rob Del Signore, Corey was only 3-2 in seven starts but had a sterling 2.28 ERA and struck out 54 in his 46 innings heading into yesterday. Maybe not scintillating numbers, but Demas had no qualms handing him the ball in the year’s biggest contest.
“Last year we had the luxury of having three really good pitchers, and this year we have two,” Demas said. “So I kind of figured it would turn out this way that Tommy would be on the hill. I’m so proud of him. Today, he was just totally money.”
Aided by a couple double plays, Corey faced just one batter above the minimum through four innings. He was in trouble in the fourth with runners on the corners but an inning-ending strikeout squashed that threat.
Pinkerton finally broke through with a sixth-inning run, but Corey closed strong striking out three of the Astros’ final six batters, finishing with seven strikeouts and no walks while facing only five batters more than the minimum. He threw 71 strikes in his 107 pitches.
In 20 innings against the Astros this season, Corey allowed 14 hits and six earned runs while striking out 19 against only two walks.
“I can’t say enough about the way Tom pitched,” Demas said. “We were concerned about his pitch count (25) after the first inning. But coach (Dan) Grant and I just looked at each other and said ... ‘This is Tommy’s day.’ “
A day built for memories.