Conant baseball shows its strength in win over Mascenic

Conant's Kaiden Charron pitches in relief.

Conant's Kaiden Charron pitches in relief. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

New Mascenic head coach Travis Terrell talks to his team in the dugout.

New Mascenic head coach Travis Terrell talks to his team in the dugout. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conant's Josh DiPasquale takes a look at third. 

Conant's Josh DiPasquale takes a look at third.  PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Isaiah Blais pitches against Conant at Humiston Field on Monday.

Mascenic's Isaiah Blais pitches against Conant at Humiston Field on Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Parker Ketola pitches against Conant at Humiston Field on Monday.

Mascenic's Parker Ketola pitches against Conant at Humiston Field on Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conant second baseman Drey Seppala comes up with the tag on Mascenic's Payton Vaillancourt after Tristan Herr threw him out from center. 

Conant second baseman Drey Seppala comes up with the tag on Mascenic's Payton Vaillancourt after Tristan Herr threw him out from center.  PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conant’s Dylan Adams fist-bumps teammate Kaden Kirby as he crosses the plate on a first-inning balk.

Conant’s Dylan Adams fist-bumps teammate Kaden Kirby as he crosses the plate on a first-inning balk. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Conant’s Gavin LeBlanc slides in safe at home under the tag of Mascenic catcher Brady Kivela.

Conant’s Gavin LeBlanc slides in safe at home under the tag of Mascenic catcher Brady Kivela. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Mascenic's Logan Lucas leads off second after reaching on a double in the first inning.

Mascenic's Logan Lucas leads off second after reaching on a double in the first inning. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

 Conant’s Lane LeClair pitches against Mascenic during the Orioles’ 13-0 win over the visiting Vikings in Jaffrey on Monday.

Conant’s Lane LeClair pitches against Mascenic during the Orioles’ 13-0 win over the visiting Vikings in Jaffrey on Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

By BEN CONANT

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-25-2024 8:33 AM

Conant and Mascenic came into Monday’s matchup at Humiston Field two very different baseball teams.

One, the Orioles, has a college-bound senior pitcher, a strong bullpen, some big bats in the lineup and an experienced head coach. The other, Mascenic, is a young team still coming into its own with a pitching staff to match and a first-year head coach looking to improve the squad while learning on the job.

Monday’s results bore out how things looked on paper, a 13-0 Conant victory that kept the Orioles undefeated to start their promising season.

“Everybody knows our expectations of the team and what we’re capable of doing, which is big,” Conant head coach Aric LeClair said after the game.

The Orioles had eventual Division III champion White Mountains nearly put away in the second round last spring before losing, and that sting is motivating Conant this season.

“We were pretty close to where we needed to be last year,” LeClair said, “You know, one out away. So these guys have some drive and determination to not let that happen again this year.”

Conant has gotten it done so far this season with a one-run win over rival Monadnock and now two blowout wins over Mascenic by a combined 25-1. Monday’s game saw the Orioles jump all over the young Viking pitching staff, who made matters worse for themselves with a few balks, walks and wild pitches.

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New Mascenic head coach Travis Terrill said getting his rotation up to speed is his top priority.

“It’s really pitching right now, just throwing strikes,” Terrill said. “We’ve had a few games with over 15 walks. You can’t win playing like that. So it is just the fundamentals that we’re working on.”

Fortunately, pitching is Terrill’s specialty, as his background included a first-team All-State season at Alvirne and four years on the mound at Merrimack College.

“That’s my forte,” Terrill said. “I’ve been working with a lot of the guys and got some guys that never pitched before to actually pitch.”

Conant did most of their damage in the first two innings Monday, scoring 10 runs and chasing Mascenic starter Parker Ketola in favor of Isaiah Blais, who has been the Vikings’ steadiest arm thus far. Gavin LeBlanc (2-2, double, hit-by-pitch) had a monster day at the plate for Conant, driving in six runs to continue building on his strong offseason and good start to this spring.

“He’s what I call a diamond in the rough, but he’s not that rough,” LeClair said. “He’s got quick hands. He sees the ball and if it’s where he can hit it, he’s going to hit it a ton – and he’s been doing that.”

Lane LeClair and Dylan Adams each drove in two runs for Conant, with Hunter Schultz and Jordan Ketola adding one more each. Lane, who is committed to pitching for Franklin Pierce University next year, started the game, and while he might not have had his sharpest stuff, allowing two hits with six strikeouts over three innings, he kept the Viking batters at bay and finished his day with three scoreless.

“Those three innings that he pitched, we made him go deep into counts … making him work for it instead of just grooving fastballs in there,” Terrill said. “I was proud of them to do that and be on time. So that’s one takeaway from today, you know, you competed with a kid that’s going to play in college next year.”

Logan Lucas and Payton Vaillancourt had Mascenic’s two hits on the day, as Conant relievers Kaiden Charron and Kaden Kirby threw a perfect inning apiece to close out the five-inning game. On Tuesday, the Orioles got on the road to Cooperstown, where Conant’s already tight-knit team would have a chance to bond, take in some history at the Baseball Hall of Fame and then take on Fall Mountain on Doubleday Field Thursday afternoon.

“They’re going to have memories,” Aric LeClair said. “They’re going to be like, ‘Ah, that year, I remember when I was a junior, we went to Cooperstown,’ so that’s going to be pretty cool.”

Mascenic (1-4) beat Wilton-Lyndeborough for its lone win and lost to Newmarket and Epping to round out its Division IV action to date. They’ll host Hinsdale Friday.

“We have been, and we are, competitive in D-IV, and I fully expect that moving forward,” Terrill said. ” Seeing pitching like this, it’s probably the best pitching we’re going to see this year. We got a couple good hits here today. Just stick with fundamentals and build off of that, and we’re going to be competitive.”