By Mike Whaley / firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Apr 1, 2018 at 7:07 PM Updated Apr 1, 2018 at 10:30 PM
Up and down.
That's a concise description of the Great Bay Community College's inaugural baseball season.
So far, anyway.
The Herons went 5-8 during the fall season, but if not for a number of late-inning defensive lapses, they easily could have been 8-5 or 9-4.
The second half of their split season started last week and, again, it's been up and down.
Rochester righty Christian Dow threw a one-hitter in GBCC's opener on March 24, a 1-0 gem at regional junior college power Community College of Rhode Island.
Dow whiffed five and walked three.
But on Friday he broke his ankle in a freak accident and will miss the remainder of the season.
Up and then down.
Despite Dow's loss, coach Enrique "Kike" Calero of Rochester, a native of Puerto Rico, feels confident that GBCC should do well in the Yankee Small College Conference (YSCC), which also includes Southern Maine CC, Central Maine CC and NHTI.
Other pitchers include Yadiel Villalongo, one of five players recruited from Puerto Rico by Calero; Portsmouth's Josh Saurman; Kittery, Maine's Trevor Salema; Dover's Derek Wood; and Rochester's Brandon Sargent.
Wood is coming off Tommy John surgery and Calero will know soon if he will be good to go this year. "He could be a big help if he comes back strong," Calero said. "He was throwing 85-86 (mph) before the surgery."
Villalongo has the potential to play at a higher level. At 6-foot-2, Calero says his stuff "moves like crazy."
He was the winning pitcher Friday in a 9-3 win over the University of New Hampshire's club team.
Position players Mike Sterritt (Exeter) and Joey Soto may also throw.
Calero said of Salema: "He's kind of sneaky, a competitor. I like the kid. The whole team likes him. He always gives you a chance when he's on the mound."
Sargent is a small righty whom Calero refers to as the "secret weapon." He says Sargent's pitch is like "Frisbee ball going sideways. ... If he throws strikes he can be really dangerous. Hitters are so ahead of the ball. It's fun to watch."
"That makes a big difference with Logan behind the plate," Calero said. "I let him call his own game. He's smart. He's solid behind the plate. He's like a coach."
LaRochelle and Dow played on three Rochester Post 7 Senior Legion state championship teams.
Saurman will play third base when he isn't pitching, Kingswood grad Evan LaVoice is tabbed for second base and Soto will play first base.
Another outfielder is Assil Warden, a raw talent from Massachusetts who originally came to Great Bay to play basketball, but the season was cancelled due to low numbers. He ended up trying out for baseball.
"He's mixing in," Calero said. "He's athletic. Obviously he came to the school to play another sport. I admire that kind of stuff."
The defense has looked better, so far. There were no errors in the 1-0 win over CCRI, and the second game, a 15-2 loss, CCRI just hit the ball well.
The Herons had just one hit in the 1-0 win, but they made it count. Rodriguez led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. After a walk, he scored on Saurman's double-play grounder.
Assisting Calero are Jeff Carter, a former area scouting supervisor for the Milwaukee Brewers, Melvin Torres, Brett Lindsay and Brian Curtis.
GBCC (7-9) plays its home games at Leary Field in Portsmouth.
Because the YSCC is going through a transition period, Calero said this year all four current conference teams will make the single elimination playoffs set for May 3 at SMCC.
Several teams left the conference, but next year more will join to bolster the numbers.
"Anybody can win it," Calero said. "There will be more teams in it next year, so it will be more difficult to win it. This is a good time for us to try and sneak in."
The Herons are back in action Friday at UNH club. They then host UNH in a Saturday doubleheader starting at noon at Leary.