Goffstown’s Jimmy Fund All-Star Team overmatched 13-3 by more experienced Nashua squad
NASHUA - 19 July 2016 by Brad Godette: As the National Anthem played and the two All Star baseball teams stood at attention and honored their country along their respective foul lines, a warm breeze blew across Fred Lajorie Field in Nashua, bringing with it an ominous cloud. One quick glance at the two teams standing with their hats in their hands waiting to play, and anyone could see the game wasn’t necessarily going to be competitive.
Nashua, on average, stood three inches taller than the young Goffstown team and twenty pounds heavier. David versus Goliath and this time David didn’t have a slingshot at the ready to even the odds.
Hard throwing Goffstown pitcher, Griffin Wilkinson started the game and was right on target, but the Nashua team had the strength and the bats to match some of Griffin’s best stuff of the season. Banging hit after hit into the outfield, Nashua jumped all over Goffstown 8-0 after two innings and it looked as if it was going to get much worse.
But Goffstown’s youth wasn’t just going to hand the game to Nashua and in the 3rd inning, Goffstown started slugging back. With Goffstown batters Zachary Godette and Aidan Izzett getting on base at 1st and 2nd, Goffstown’s Harrison Neff stepped in riding a season long hit streak. Harrison didn’t disappoint, knocking in both runners with a long 2-run single to right field. Catcher Max Bridgeman followed Harrison’s lead, making it to first, and after a double steal, Goffstown had runners at 2nd & 3rd. Nashua looked nervous for the first time in the game. Goffstown saw it and made them pay. Moments later, on a throwing error by Nashua, Harrison scored cutting the lead to 8-3. As Harrison celebrated, Max charged in from 3rd base, and the crowd rose to their feet recognizing there was about to be a close play at home.
In a headfirst slide that would make any Major League coach or player jealous, Max slide across the plate just in front of the tag, cutting Mighty Nashua’s lead in half (8-4) in less than a half an inning, and sending the visiting Goffstown team (and their fans) into a frenzy. But hold on… This isn’t the Major Leagues, and in Little League Baseball it’s illegal to slide headfirst, and upon appeal, Max was called out – the run erased, the inning over.
The up and down emotion of that play took some of the wind out of the sails as Goffstown came back out on the field. “Farm Kid” Stevie Damboise, making his Little League pitching debut, picked up where Griffin left off – throwing hard strikes, and even though Nashua never hit the ball past the infield the rest of the way against Stevie, they managed to push their lead to 13-3 which was the eventual final score.
Other noted positives for Goffstown were how the young team continued to get on base. Aidan Izzett, Stevie Damboise, Brady Godette and Connor Bernard all showed patience and worked “2-strike” at-bats to walks. Levi Locke also stood tall at the plate and worked the Nashua pitchers he faced to deep counts as well. And Adrie Reeves, making her first appearance of the season showed the type of effort that made her a Goffstown Farm All-Star by laying out and diving for a hard-hit ball to left field, knocking it down and keeping a runner from scoring.
But the play of the day, perhaps the season, involved Max Bridgeman. Not the perfect (yet illegal) headfirst slide in the top of the 3rd inning, but the ESPN-worthy catch he made in the field. During the game, a Nashua batter popped the ball foul down the third-base line. Max, playing his usual catcher position, jumped up, threw off his mask, sidestepped the batter, ran as fast as he could, and dove. His face landed down (in the dirt), but miraculously his catcher’s mitt landed up. (Is Max double-jointed? His body isn’t supposed to twist that way). But where was the ball? The umpire walked over and looked down inside Max’s mitt. No one could believe it. There sat the baseball. Max had somehow caught the foul fly, for the third out of the inning. Utterly fantastic.
With the game ending and the kids now lining up to say “good game” to each other, everyone watching could once again easily see Nashua had the size advantage, the weight advantage, and the strength advantage over the younger Goffstown team. But to Nashua’s credit they didn’t brag or gloat, or showboat. Instead they showed a sportsmanship every bit worthy of the Jimmy Fund Tournament, inviting the Goffstown players over to their concession stand after the game for free hot dogs and soft-drinks, to go along with more than a few laughs, handshakes and high-fives.
Next game for this All-Star team is Thursday 7/21/16 at 6pm at Windham’s Griffin Park.
About: Jimmy Fund Little League co-presented by Extra Innings and Franklin Sports provides more than 5,000 little league baseball and softball players throughout New England the chance to continue playing after their regular season ends by fundraising and participating in local tournaments.
Off the field, these players take to their communities to raise vital funds for the Jimmy Fund, while learning the importance of philanthropy and volunteerism, and that they, too, can make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Help strike out cancer by participating or supporting Jimmy Fund Little League.
Since 1987, the hard work and winning spirit of the coaches, parents and, most importantly, the players, have raised more than $4.5 million for the Jimmy Fund.