MANCHESTER — With the tying run in scoring position and a state championship just one out away, Londonderry pitcher Nolan Lincoln was not about to allow New Hampshire baseball’s greatest prize to slip through his fingers.
“I just had to get one more out for my boys,” said Lincoln. “I had to do it. The feeling was amazing. After that it was just pure excitement.”
With the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first for Bedford with two outs in the seventh, Lancer ace Lincoln finished his masterpiece in style, forcing a grounder that shortstop Brandon Fish fielded perfectly and tossed over to first.
The wild party was then underway, as No. 4 seeded Londonderry celebrated the New Hampshire Division 1 state championship with a 1-0 thrilling victory over No. 6 Bedford on Monday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
“I’ve never felt anything better than this,” said Lincoln after a complete-game gem. “I’m so thrilled we could win it for the city and community. It’s amazing. I love it!”
The victory marks Londonderry’s first state baseball title since 2014, when the Lancers topped archrival Pinkerton 4-1 in the championship game.
“It’s so amazing,” said DH Sean Cavanaugh. “Piling on the mound with the guys was crazy. It was powerful. I’ve seen other teams do it. I was here in the stands the last time Londonderry won. So for us to do it is amazing.”
Leading the Lancers on Monday was an absolutely brilliant pitching performance by Lincoln.
The junior was in complete command, allowing just three soft singles over seven innings. He did not walk a batter, threw 65 of his 94 pitches for strikes and only threw three balls to a batter once.
“Nolan was pumping his fastball and going off-speed with the curveball when we were up in the count,” said catcher Jack Dingman. “I’ve caught Nolan since I was in third grade and we have always connected. I knew he could do it today.”
Lincoln never faced a true scoring threat, allowing just two runners to reach second base, both the result of errors. In both cases, he quickly retired the next batter.
“He was amazing,” said Cavanaugh. “He’s been doing this all year, and tonight, he put everything he had into his performance.”
Bedford did hammer two balls to the outfield in the top of the fourth, but both times Londonderry center fielder Zack Luongo was able to track them down and make terrific catches.
Londonderry still needed to find some offense, however, against Bedford starter Trevor Anibal, who after allowing two hits to start the game retired 10 in a row.
But with two outs in the fourth, Nick Cote singled and stole second base.
Cavanaugh then blooped a ball into right field that just fell in, and Cote came around to score.
“We had our fastest runner at second base, so I just knew I had to make something happen,” said Cavanaugh. “I was able to put it into the outfield, but I thought their right fielder was going to fly in and catch it. But it worked out, he crossed the plate, and it was a crazy adrenalin rush.”
From there, it was all Lincoln.
He set the Bulldogs down in order in the fifth, worked around a leadoff single in the sixth, then struck out the first two batters of the seventh.
Bedford then reached on an error and followed that with a single, but Lincoln had enough to finish the job and clinch the title.
“That was the best I have ever seen Nolan pitch,” said Luongo. “But all through the playoffs, he’s been throwing complete games and doing it all. I knew the whole time he would finish it off.”
Londonderry then celebrated the championship on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ home field.
“This is a dream come true,” said Dingman. “I’ve dreamed about this my whole life. I always dreamed of being a pro, and this is as close as I will get to it, and this is amazing. After the final out I just started running towards Nolan. It was incredible.”
Londonderry 1, Bedford 0
NH Division 1 title game
Bedford (0): Michael Pratte cf 3-0-1, Zach Fletcher lf 3-0-0, Trevor Anibal p 2-0-0, Jared Neikam 1b 3-0-0 Kyle Lavigne c 3-0-0, Avery Mosseau rf 3-0-0, Jared Collins dh 3-0-0, Graham Reynolds pr 0-0-0, Nick Douidi 3b 3-0-2, Ryan Juliano ss 3-0-0. Totals 26-0-3
Londonderry (1): Brandon Fish ss 3-0-1, Reece Manor 2b 3-0-1, Zack Luongo cf 3-0-0, Nick Cote rf 2-1-1, Sean Cavanaugh dh 3-0-1, Luke Marsh lf 2-0-0, Owen MacDonnell 1b 1-0-0, Ryan Kellelea 3b 1-0-0, Zach Rheault ph 0-0-0, Jack Dingman c 2-0-0. Totals 20-1-4
RBI: L — Cavanaugh
WP: Nolan Lincoln; LP: Trevor Anibal
Bedford (15-7): 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0
Londonderry (21-5): 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.