Baseball: No. 4 Falcons fly into state championship, beating No. 1 John Stark in D-II semifinals

Bow celebrates after Colby Smith scored a run on a wild pitch to help the Falcons extend their lead to 8-2 in the D-II semifinal on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

Bow celebrates after Colby Smith scored a run on a wild pitch to help the Falcons extend their lead to 8-2 in the D-II semifinal on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Bow senior Sean Guerrette pitching for the Falcons. He didn't allow a hit pitching the final three innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

Bow senior Sean Guerrette pitching for the Falcons. He didn't allow a hit pitching the final three innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Bow shortstop Owen Cray throws the ball to second during the Falcons' D-II semifinal win over John Stark on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

Bow shortstop Owen Cray throws the ball to second during the Falcons' D-II semifinal win over John Stark on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Bow starting pitcher Nate Kiah on the mound for the Falcons during the D-II semifinal against John Stark on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Kiah threw four innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits, walking two and striking out three in Bow's 10-2 victory.

Bow starting pitcher Nate Kiah on the mound for the Falcons during the D-II semifinal against John Stark on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Kiah threw four innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits, walking two and striking out three in Bow's 10-2 victory. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

By SOFIE BUCKMINSTER

Monitor staff

Published: 06-06-2024 12:02 PM

Modified: 06-06-2024 12:19 PM


CONCORD — If you had asked Bow head coach Ben Forbes at the start of the season if his team could reach the Division II state championship game, he might’ve told you his group was a bit too inexperienced.

“I probably would have said, ‘Maybe in a year,’” he said. 

On Wednesday, there was no question that this year’s Falcons were ready. No. 4 Bow demolished No. 1 John Stark, 10-2, in the Division II semifinals. 

“They’ve peaked,” Forbes continued. “They’ve gelled.”

After a scoreless first two innings, the Falcons finessed a run on two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball. Another quickly followed after a misplay by John Stark’s first baseman Anthony Paolicelli.

John Stark responded quickly. In the bottom of the third, a missed flyball in right field and a walk set the stage for Aiden Harris to tie the game at 2-2 with a two-run double. 

The Falcons scored two more in the top of the fifth, giving them a narrow 4-2 lead, after walks from Colby Smith and Brady Lover and RBI singles from Dillon Abbate and Sean Guerrette.

But in the bottom of the inning, the Generals threatened again. Guerrette relieved Bow starter Nate Kiah, who after carrying a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh in his start last Thursday against Milford, gave the Falcons four strong innings on Wednesday. He gave up two unearned runs and struck out three, but Forbes pulled his starter after he allowed a single and hit by pitch to start the fifth. Guerrette subsequently walked Harris to load the bases, but swiftly redeemed himself by catching a bullet of a line drive headed straight for him. The inning was over, and so was John Stark’s best-remaining chance.

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Things moved quickly from there. Three Bow walks loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, and a fourth gave the Falcons their fifth run. Then Guerrette stepped up to bat. The Falcons saw a two runs score on a wild pitch, followed by another wild pitch that earned them one more. Bow cleared the bases without Guerrette leaving home plate. 

Now with a more comfortable 8-2 lead, Guerrette headed back to the mound for another inning of work. The D-II Pitcher of the Year retired the Generals in order with a 1-2-3 inning.

“Sean threw 107 (pitches) three days ago,” he said, “so we didn’t want him to throw a ton.

“But he was feeling no pain tonight. He was all pumped up and full of adrenaline. It was fantastic.” 

In the seventh, a single and a walk set the stage for sophomore Jake Reardon to add insurance with a two-run double smashed to the left-center field gap, extending the lead to 10-2. The Generals had no response.

Earlier in the season, Bow lost to John Stark in a 2-0 pitcher’s duel. On Wednesday, Forbes reflected on how his team has grown since then.

“It’s just discipline, making sure that we're not chasing pitches out of the zone,” he said. “Earlier in the year, when we were at their place, we chased it. And we paid the price for it.

“We were very disciplined with it today. We were able to get some great deep counts, some two-strike hitting and some timely hitting. We didn't get it all year. So it's nice to get it now when it matters.”

The Falcons will face No. 3 Souhegan in the championship game this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. After what he saw from his team in the semifinals, Forbes expressed optimism about what they’ll bring to the table with a state title on the line.

“We’re gonna play like we did tonight,” he said. “They’re a great chemistry kind of team. They love each other.”

But it won’t be easy. 

“They’ve got a very similar style of baseball,” Forbes said. “It's going to be a dogfight.”