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April 17. 2014 11:56PM

Roger Brown's Diamond Notes: Central the early surprise in baseball ranks

The top storyline in Division I baseball so far? It has to be Manchester Central, which is off to a 2-0 start after finishing 4-14 and missing the Division I tournament last season.

Central opened the season by beating Alvirne of Hudson — and Northeastern-bound pitcher Tyler Brown — 4-1 on Monday, and followed up that victory by beating Concord 3-2 Wednesday. It’s a pair of quality victories, since both Alvirne and Concord figure to finish in the upper half of the division.

“Last year we didn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Central coach Kevin O’Leary said. “A lot of times we’d get down on ourselves and stay down. We graduated three people from last year’s team, so there’s a good core of seniors.”

Starting pitching appears to be Central’s strength. Senior Collin Duffley pitched a complete game when Central beat Alvirne, and junior Dario Vitagliano went the distance against Concord. Vitagliano had a no-hitter entering the sixth inning.

“We did expect our pitching to be a strong point, but I didn’t expect both of our pitchers to go the full seven,” O’Leary said. “They’ve been keeping their pitch counts down and our defense is playing really well.

Central, which has scored six of its seven runs in the first inning, will attempt to raise its record to 3-0 today at Dover.

“I don’t want to look too far ahead, but as any coach will tell you the main goal is to play in the last game,” O’Leary said. “If we keep playing the type of baseball that we can I think we’ll do pretty well.”

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JALIN MARSTON’S first varsity softball game was a memorable one.

Marston, a freshman, hit a grand slam in her first at-bat to help Exeter open its season with a 12-5 victory over Nashua North on Monday. Marston added a single later in the game and scored three times in the victory.

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ST. THOMAS of Dover center fielder Ryan McKenna collected three hits — two of which were home runs — in Monday’s 14-4 triumph over Coe-Brown of Northwood.

McKenna, a junior, finished the game with three hits, four RBIs and three runs scored. He has committed to play Division I baseball at Liberty.

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THE Pinkerton of Derry and Londonderry baseball teams will meet Saturday at noon in Londonderry. The Lancers beat the Astros in last year’s Division I semifinals. The teams will also face each other in Derry on May 9. … The Exeter baseball team has allowed one run in 17 innings this season. The Blue Hawks, who won last year’s Division I title, beat Nashua North 1-0 in 11 innings Monday, and defeated Trinity of Manchester 8-1 Wednesday. … Meaghan Donnell is in her first season as Newmarket’s softball coach, Donnell replaced Jack Brown, who served as Newmarket’s coach for 34 seasons.

Roger Brown covers high school baseball and softball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @603SportsMedia.

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