LONDONDERRY – As innings piled up in the pitching duel between Pinkerton and Londonderry starters Saturday afternoon, it became evident that whichever team scored first likely would be advancing to the semifinals.
And it was Gavin Parent who decided it was time to deliver.
With a runner on third and two out in the bottom of the seventh, the Lancer senior drilled only the second three-ball count issued by Pinkerton starter Thomas Rioux over the 330 sign in the left-field corner for a 2-0 quarterfinal victory. The 2019 state champs, Londonderry (16-5-4) will play at Winnacunnet in Wednesday’s semifinals.
“I hit it in the sweet spot,” Parent said of his first career dinger. “I knew he had to come in to me on a 3-1 count. I knew it had to be my perfect pitch to hit a long way to drive the man in. It was right there, and I ended it.”
The winning rally began with Johan Pena’s second single of the game. After a ground out, Parent, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, stepped up after having singled in the second and striking out in the fifth.
“I knew it was going to produce a run when the left fielder started tracking back that fast,” Parent said of his drive. “I saw it go over the fence when I was rounding first base.
“I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It feels absolutely phenomenal to send my team to the semifinals. I’d like to thank our ace pitcher Owen MacDonnell for getting me in that position in the first place.”
Londonderry’s starter was phenomenal, surviving two first-inning errors in the complete-game victory, MacDonnell needed only 82 pitches, 60 of them strikes as he never went to a three-ball count.
“He’s my best pitcher and one of the best pitchers in the state,” Londonderry coach Brent Demas said. “That’s why we had him going tonight. I have three number ones and he’s the best of the three.”
MacDonnell allowed three hits while striking out six. Only one Astro reached third as the senior pitcher stranded five runners, two in scoring position.
But his Pinkerton counterpart was just as tough. After stranding runners on second and third with no outs in the first, Rioux retired 19 of the next 20 batters he faced. The junior allowed five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
“I thought we played well,” Pinkerton coach Steve Campo. “Tom pitched unbelievable today. That was an unbelievable outing. You have two of the top pitchers in the state going today.
“The way (Rioux) was pitching I wasn’t worried about much (when Parent came to the plate). I didn’t think it was a bad pitch. The kid put a good swing on it, and you have to tip your cap. I’ll put Tom in that situation 100 times.”
Although the loss was tough, Pinkerton will look to contend again next year with only two seniors in Saturday’s lineup that included three sophomores and a freshman. Not only will Rioux return to the mound but so will ace Liam Doyle, who earned a first-round win Wednesday against Timberlane to wrap up his 9-0 season.
“It’s too early to talk about that,” Campo said about looking ahead. “I feel for my seniors right now. I had five seniors this year and they gave me everything they had all season. It hurts, and I’m hurting for them right now.”
Londonderry 2, Pinkerton 0
Division 1 Quarterfinals
Pinkerton (0): Ethan Burgess cf 3-0-1, Jacob Albert lf 3-0-0, Cole Yennaco c 3-0-1, Tyler Michaud ss 3-0-0, Thomas Rioux p 3-0-0, Lorenzo Corsetto 2b 3-0-1, Maxwell Lukeman rf 3-0-0, Nick DiMambro 3b 3-0-0, Nick Rioux 1b 2-0-0. Totals 26-0-3
Londonderry (2): Brandon Fish 2b 2-0-0, Zachary Rheault c 3-0-1, Zach Smith 1b 3-0-0, Owen MacDonnell p 3-0-0, Jack Marshall cf 3-0-0, Joha Pena 3b 3-0-2, Grady Daron cr 0-1-0, Adam Wholley dh 2-0-0, Justin Dickson 1-0-0, Ryan Killelea ss 0-0-0, Gavin Parent lf 3-1-2, Aiden Washington rf 2-0-0. Totals 25-2-5
RBI: Parent 2
WP: McDonnell; LP: T. Rioux
Pinkerton (17-3): 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Londonderry (16-4): 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 2