20220514-SPT-KHSbaseball

Sophomore Cam Tinnin of the Keene High baseball team deals a pitch during the Blackbirds’ game against Portsmouth on Friday in Keene.

The Keene baseball team hung around for much of the night — and even had a lead at one point — over undefeated and Division-I-leading Portsmouth, but ultimately fell, 7-3, Friday night at Alumni Field in Keene.

Here are some takeaways from the contest that saw mid-80’s temperatures from the first pitch to the last out:

Sophomore Cam Tinnin settles in

The sophomore pitcher — in his first varsity outing — pitched the final four innings and gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.

“First at-bat I was pretty nervous, but then I settled in pretty quickly,” Tinnin said. “It felt good pitching on the big diamond.”

His outing started out a bit rough, as he plunked Portsmouth’s Frank Krupp right in the head on the first pitch. A few batters later, he found himself in a bases-loaded jam with nobody out. Three runs eventually game around to score for Portsmouth, but Tinnin had two big strikeouts — including one to end the inning with a runner on third — to keep the damage relatively manageable. He gave up two more runs in the fifth, then pitched two scoreless innings where he only allowed two baserunners.

“My pitches felt right and just seemed easier to throw,” Tinnin said. “I felt like I was throwing hard.”

Tinnin found a groove down the stretch once he shook off those nerves and handled one of the state’s best lineups without giving up too much damage.

“That’s what I was looking to see,” said Keene head coach Ryan Boden. “That’s a tough situation to come in to against the top team in the state. … He threw great, he just needed to find his groove. Once he found it, kids had no idea what was coming out of his hand. Love that.”

Quinn Thatcher threw the first three innings and gave up two earned runs (on two solo home runs). He only allowed four hits and walked just one batter.

Keene puts together defensively-sound game

Errors and miscommunications have plagued Keene this season, but the defense came to play Friday afternoon. The Blackbirds committed one error, which did lead to two unearned runs, but made the routine plays and even came up with a big 4-6-3 double play in the sixth inning.

Fitch Hennessey had seven putouts at his newfound position of shortstop. Twice, he was sure to hold the runner at third base before throwing to first, and he was also in the middle of the aforementioned double play.

“Fitch has settled right into his role at shortstop,” Boden said. “He’s getting comfortable there, making big plays for us. He moves well in the field. … Really happy with how our young guys have stepped up.”

And we can’t forget Sam Timmer behind the plate, who did an excellent job of keeping the ball in front of him for much of the night, potentially saving a few runs.

“We’ve improved a ton,” Boden said. “We’re executing our plays; we are making plays in the field. We’re communicating. Everything is coming together. I know it’s not the result we want on the field, but the way we’re playing as a team is just way better.”

Offense couldn’t quite get that timely hit

The Blackbirds had six hits on the night and only struck out eight times but left 10 runners stranded. Six of those runners were in scoring position.

In the second and fourth innings, Keene had runners on second and third, where a single could’ve scored two more runs, but that last hit never came.

Timmer nearly had that extra hit to score Jared Schmitt in the fifth inning, but a diving catch from Portsmouth’s Max LaLime in centerfield took that away.

Keene played some small ball in the second inning, with Timmer and Austin Morris putting down back-to-back RBI bunts (Timmer reached on an error, Morris had a bunt single) that were placed perfectly on the field. Those bunts gave Keene a 2-1 lead after the second inning.

Ian Bergeron led off that second inning with a single, then Carter Hennessey drew a walk before Timmer and Morris put down the bunts to bring them around to score.

“In that second inning, we executed those back-to-back bunts and scored two runs,” Boden said. “The situational hitting is there, but we just need to get it into the gap rather than right at the [fielder] or hitting that bloop where we get under it just too much. Fighting that outside pitch down the line instead of trying to turn on it. Just more batting practice.”

Quick turnaround

Keene (2-12) heads out to Manchester on Saturday for a 1 p.m. first pitch against Manchester Memorial (4-8).

Portsmouth stays perfect on the year (14-0) as the only undefeated team left in Division I.

Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or cdetwiler@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Detwiler.