MANCHESTER — Portsmouth High’s streak of four consecutive Division II baseball championships came to an end last season, but the Clippers will be looking to start a new streak Saturday.
Second-seeded Portsmouth trailed sixth-seeded Windham by two runs entering the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday, but came up with three runs in its final at-bat and advanced to Saturday’s Division II championship game by posting a 6-5 victory at Southern New Hampshire University.
The key play in the bottom of the sixth came when Portsmouth Chris Main hit a soft fly ball to right field with the bases loaded. The ball dropped in for a hit to score a run, and then an outfield throwing error allowed two more runs to score, which handed the Clippers a 6-5 lead.
“I definitely didn’t get good contact on it,” Main said. “I thought it was a routine fly ball to right field. They misplayed it and we took the bases that we could.”
Windham had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh, but Adam Dolan was retired on an infield pop fly before Matt Carbonello grounded out to second for the game’s final out.
“You never feel comfortable against a team like Portsmouth,” Windham coach Derek Lee said. “We just didn’t get the call (on the game’s final out). I saw the picture and I thought he was safe. It’s too bad because he’s the only senior starter we have.”
Portsmouth (15-3) will face top-seeded Goffstown (19-1) in Saturday’s championship game. Windham completed its season with a 13-7 record.
James Haslam started and pitched into the sixth for the Clippers, but Ricky Holt replaced Haslam on the mound after Windham loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error with no outs in the sixth.
Holt walked in a run before freshman Connor Moynihan cleared the bases with a triple to left-center.
Portsmouth’s first three batters reached base in the bottom of the sixth before Main’s fly ball found some grass in right field.
“We never got down,” Main said. “All we needed were two runs and we had six outs to get them. Lucky enough to get them in the sixth instead of the seventh I guess, but we were definitely confident that we could come back and win.”
Like Haslam, Dolan pitched into the sixth. He allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked three. Jeff Peterson replaced Dolan and retired the only three batters he faced.
Although he surrendered four runs, Haslam held the Jaguars to two hits. He walked three and struck out one.
“(Haslam) gave us pretty much everything we could have asked for,” Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley said. “He was really, really good for us.
“This (comeback) says a ton about us as a group. Most of these guys haven’t been in this situation before on this stage at this level. Nobody’s put us in that position this season.”
Hopley said Holt, who has a 21-2 record on the mound during his three-year varsity career, will be available to pitch in Saturday’s championship game.
“He’s available as long as he doesn’t miss the bus,” Hopley said. “And I may pick him up.”