Baseball: Belmont’s quest for a championship falls short at the hands of Monadnock

Belmont senior Hutch Haskins slides into third base during the Division III baseball championship game against Monadnock on Saturday.

Belmont senior Hutch Haskins slides into third base during the Division III baseball championship game against Monadnock on Saturday. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

Belmont shortstop Wyatt Divers (left) and second baseman Owen Waldron (4) celebrate after Monadnock’s Ben Dean was caught stealing during the Division III championship game on Saturday.

Belmont shortstop Wyatt Divers (left) and second baseman Owen Waldron (4) celebrate after Monadnock’s Ben Dean was caught stealing during the Division III championship game on Saturday. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

Belmont pitcher Anakin Underhill delivers a pitch during the Division III championship game at Delta Dental Stadium on Saturday.

Belmont pitcher Anakin Underhill delivers a pitch during the Division III championship game at Delta Dental Stadium on Saturday. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

Belmont junior Michael Collette celebrates after scoring a run during the Division III baseball championship game against Monadnock on Saturday.

Belmont junior Michael Collette celebrates after scoring a run during the Division III baseball championship game against Monadnock on Saturday. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

By SOFIE BUCKMINSTER

Monitor staff

Published: 06-09-2024 12:32 AM

MANCHESTER – Usually teams with only one senior don’t expect to make it to the championship game. But Belmont baseball was an exception.

After a thrilling victory over No. 1 Conant on Tuesday, No. 4 Belmont (17-3) had the chance to play for a state title against No. 3 Monadnock (19-2). The Red Raiders fell short, 9-5, in the Division III championship at Delta Dental Stadium on Saturday. 

“They’re a talented group,” head coach Matt LeBlanc said. “And they’re a young group. I’m very happy that they made it this far.”

The game got off to a quick start, with Belmont’s senior Hutch Haskins scoring a run off a wild pitch followed by an error. But Monadnock answered quickly and emphatically, opening a 4-1 lead by the end of the inning. 

The Red Raiders kept inching forward – junior Michael Collette hit a single in the second inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and ran home on a single to right field by Max Ryder. But Monadnock’s pitcher Ben Dean – headed to pitch at Division I University of Dayton next year – was consistent. He struck out at least one Belmont batter every inning.

Sophomore Brayden Townsend smashed a double and turned it into a run off a misplay in the fourth inning, maintaining the Red Raiders’ steady pace forwards. But the Huskies matched it – Haden Bertolami scored a very contentious run on a sac fly with two outs. The third-base umpire initially ruled that Bertolami left third early, but the umpires convened and reversed the call.

Perhaps if they hadn’t, Belmont might have had momentum back on its side.

The next two times to bat for the Red Raiders were 1-2-3 innings for Dean, and the Huskies scored two more runs in each. By the top of the seventh, the Red Raiders were down 9-3.

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Six runs down and two outs into the final inning, Belmont’s season was all but over. But the Red Raiders didn’t act like it.

Junior pitcher Anakin Underhill, who initiated a five-run outburst in the semifinal, hit a single with runners on first and second. Both ran home. A final strikeout by Dean sealed the game at 9-5.

“I’m proud of my guys,” said LeBlanc. “They hung in there all day, and they didn’t go quietly.”

He also took a moment to acknowledge Haskins, the team captain, after the final game of his high school career.

“He showed up today,” he said. “Three hits, and led the way for us. He has all year. He’s unbelievable. He’s a hard-working kid. Everybody loves Hutch.”

Looking ahead to next season, LeBlanc hopes that even the few losses Belmont endured propel the team to success next year.

“I wanted them to watch Monadnock get the trophy,” he said. “I wanted them to watch them celebrate.

“I just hope this is a little bit of motivation for next year.”

Sofie Buckminster can be reached at sbuckminster@cmonitor.com.