MANCHESTER – Four runs was more than enough for the Merrimack High School baseball team for most of the season.
Not in the Division I championship game on Saturday.
The No. 3 Tomahawks had leads of 2-0 and 4-2, but couldn’t hang on against No. 1 Concord, falling 5-4 in nine innings at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester.
Concord’s Dillon Emerson drove in Pat Cannon with the winning run wiht the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Crimson Tide its first title since 1980.
“I think we’ve been a very resilient team all year,” Concord coach Scott Owen said. “My seniors are the ones who came up and did it. They’re a heck of a team. We just did a little bit more than they did.”
The Tide did what no one in Division I had done against Merrimack starter Tom Hudon since April – score runs.
Hudon, who hadn’t allowed a run since the end of April, went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Matt Wojciak pitched three innings of relief, surrendering a run on four hits and two walks.
“That was my first run given up since April vacation,” Hudon said. “They earned it. I felt good, but this was my first time playing on a pro mound. It’s different, but I’m not blaming the mound. They hit the ball better than we did. They deserve it.”
Graham McIntire got the win in relief for Concord (18-4), pitching two innings and allowing one hit and hitting a batter. Merrimack (16-6) put runners on against McIntire in both the eighth and the ninth, but the ’Hawks ran into an out to end the eighth and hit into a double play to finish the ninth.
Concord had a chance to end it in its half of the seventh, when Ed Dionne singled with one out and tried to score on a double by McIntire. Merrimack’s Jackson King tracked down the ball and quickly got the ball back in to get Dionne out at the plate.
“That was major,” Merrimack acting coach Jim Davala said. “I thought maybe we could finish it off in the next inning and it just didn’t happen. They wanted it, we wanted it, it could have gone either way.”
Owen thought that decision might come back to haunt him.
“I thought ‘uh oh,’ ” he said. “You stay around baseball long enough, you see that happen. They made a play on that. They were going to have to throw us out at home and they did.”
McIntire finished the game 3 for 4 with three RBIs and Ben Bengston had two hits and drove in the tying run in the bottom of the sixth.
Ian Theriault scored three run for Merrimack after walking once and getting hit by a pitch twice. Tim Michaud was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Shane Williams also had two hits for the ’Hawks. But Merrimack had some troubles on the base paths, running itself out of four innings.
“We had a couple of base running blunders,” Davala said. “In my experience, base running is key to scoring runs. And you need timely hits, too. The players played their hearts out.”