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Nashua North's Brendan Martin is safe on first as Bedford's Christian Josef, can't get the ball in the third inning as Bedford competes against Nashua North Wednesday in Bedford. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Roger Brown's Diamond Notes: Two of state's top catchers on same field


YOU COULD make a strong case that the two best high school catchers in New Hampshire were on the same field Wednesday, when Bedford played its home opener against Nashua North.

Bedford's Andy Lalonde and North's Matt Fortin are both seniors who have committed to play Division I college baseball - Lalonde at St. Bonaventure and Fortin at Seton Hall - and both could be selected in this year's MLB draft.

Although some publications list Lalonde as New Hampshire top high school draft prospect this year, the one professional scout in attendance Wednesday said he was there to watch Fortin. He said Fortin wouldn't embarrass himself defensively at the professional level now, but added that Fortin will have to produce more at the plate. Fortin, who hit .380 last season, agreed.

"I believe I'm better at the defensive side of the game," Fortin said. "I just need the bat to come around. I'm just not seeing the ball. I'm thinking too much at the plate. I just have to relax and get back to the basics."

Fortin, who had an RBI single in four trips to the plate during North's 4-3 triumph, is the only returning player from last year's Union Leader All-State Team. He said he chose Seton Hall over the University of Ohio and Southern New Hampshire University.

"He can go catch at the next level right now, but he definitely has to develop more at the plate," first-year North coach Kyle Harvell said. "He's working at it. He's got a chance to be special."

Lalonde's No. 1 asset may be his size. He's 6-foot-5 and weighs 255 pounds.

"My areas of strength are obviously my size, my power, and I think I call a good game," Lalonde said. "I think that part of my game has improved a lot. It's helped my pitchers too.

"In terms of the draft ... I can't think about that right now. If I think about it I'll get complacent, and if I get complacent I'll have more days like today (1 for 3) - not a very good day for me. I was unhappy with it. Then I probably won't get drafted."

Bedford coach Billy Chapman said Lalonde needs to play a high level consistently.

"He has all the skills to be a very good baseball player - a great baseball player," Chapman said. "His goal this year is to get hot and to stay hot."

The scout who watched Wednesday's game said he couldn't guarantee that either player will be drafted this summer.

"When you cover a game a kid really has to impress you with his bat to be a prospect, and I'm not seeing it here," the scout said. "Who knows? Twenty-nine teams may not like a player, but it only takes one."

______

North was coming off a 13-inning scoreless game in Monday's opener against Exeter. That contest was suspended because of darkness and will be completed at a later date. ... Monday was a rough day for most of last year's 2012 softball state champions. Alvirne (Division I), Portsmouth (Division II) and Wilton-Lyndeborough (Division IV) all opened the season with a loss. White Mountains, last year's Division III champion, beat Winnisquam 15-4 in its opener. ... Connor Sahlin tossed the season's first no-hitter during Campbell's 11-0 victory over Raymond on Monday. The game was called after the fifth inning because of the 10-run rule. Sahlin struck out 11 of the 15 batters he faced, and also collected two hits and drove in three runs. ... The Oyster River baseball team scored seven runs in the sixth inning and beat Portsmouth 8-4 Monday. It's the first time the Bobcats have beaten the Clippers. The Portsmouth program had won 100 of its last 101 games before losing to Lebanon in last year's Division II semifinals.


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