Chris Caron

With virtually all of July still left in the New Hampshire Legion baseball season, it's still a bit early to be talking about the prime contenders for the District B championship. But let's do it anyway | just for fun.

If you take a look at the top of the current District B standings, Derry (6-1) and Londonderry (4-1) sit in first and second place, respectively, in the 10-team division. The two titans may very well be the top teams in District B and were scheduled to clash last Thursday but the game was washed out due to thunderstorms.

Nevertheless, the two teams will still have their chances to beat up on each other twice. One game is scheduled for next Tuesday and the rained out game will be made up on a date to be decided.

Meanwhile, Derry and Londonderry have both looked impressive against the other premier teams in the District, giving them legitimate hopes of a title this summer.

Londonderry's lone loss so far came against a very strong Keene (6-2) team. Post 27 fell to Keene in a slugfest by a score of 17-11 on June 27. However, Londonderry rebounded by posting an impressive 10-2 win against Merrimack and by knocking off a solid Milford (5-3) team by a count of 7-5.

Derry started the year off a perfect 4-0 before dropping a game to Milford. Unlike Londonderry, which had success against Milford, Post 9 was man-handled 13-1 at home. But Derry ironically easily defeated Keene, the lone team to knock off Londonderry, by a score of 5-1 early in the season.

Clearly Derry and Londonderry have matched up best against different types of teams. Post 9 and Post 27 each have an abundance of talent up and down the roster, but it appears that each team's biggest strength may lie on opposite sides of the ball.

While both teams have above average pitching staffs, the edge may go to Londonderry. Post 27 has the luxury of turning to the tremendous one-two combination on Chris Caron and Mark Barnett. Both were standout starters for the Londonderry High School team that made it to the Class L semifinals this past spring.

Caron, who is headed to Merrimack College in the fall, went 8-1 with a paper-thin 1.74 ERA as a senior last spring. The right-hander features an array of pitches and often lets his fielders take care of the outs.

Barnett was 5-0 for the Lancers this year with a 2.28 ERA, making him a very formidable No. 2 option.

Offensively, Londonderry will be very balanced with five left-handed hitting options. Several talented carry-overs from the LHS lineup will be playing for Post 27, including Brian Finnegan, Kyle Neverman, Adam Veino, Brad Milka, Jeff Wojewoda, Sean Caron and Justin Campo. Larry Longo, a Londonderry resident and Derryfield student, is also on the team and is coming off a season in which he was named to the New Hampshire All-Class S team as a junior.

Needless to say, Londonderry will put a talented lineup on the field every game, but it may not be as strong as Derry's.

Post 9's top five hitters in the order are so good that Third-Team All-Class L performer Luke Streeter often hits seventh. Nick Gregsak, Evan Valcourt, Juan Amador, Zach Mullin and Steve Clark usually round out the top half of the lineup, creating a nightmare blend of speed and power.

Of course, there's still a long time to go in the season, and when these teams meet it will tell us more about who is better-suited for a title this summer. But for an area that didn't get too see a high school baseball title this year, it's fun to think that either Derry or Londonderry may capture a Legion title.

And right now those thoughts are realistic for both teams.

Matt Langone is the sports editor of the Derry News. He can be reached by phone at 603-421-3829 or e-mail him at sports@derrynews.com.

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