ConVal baseball season ends, but bright future awaits

ConVal freshman Anthony Gutwein pitches against Milford during the Cougars’ 5-3 loss to the visiting Spartans in Peterborough Wednesday, May 22.

ConVal freshman Anthony Gutwein pitches against Milford during the Cougars’ 5-3 loss to the visiting Spartans in Peterborough Wednesday, May 22. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal senior David Murray has a wave for his teammates after reaching second safely on a double. 

ConVal senior David Murray has a wave for his teammates after reaching second safely on a double.  — PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal's Justin Borges fires to first base for an out. 

ConVal's Justin Borges fires to first base for an out.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal catcher Henry Hartwell has a grin for the dugout. 

ConVal catcher Henry Hartwell has a grin for the dugout.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal third baseman Evan Aho charges a Spartan grounder. 

ConVal third baseman Evan Aho charges a Spartan grounder.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal senior shortstop Justin Borges hauls in a throw down to second as a Spartan slides in safely. 

ConVal senior shortstop Justin Borges hauls in a throw down to second as a Spartan slides in safely.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal's Isaac Clough pitches in relief. 

ConVal's Isaac Clough pitches in relief.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

By BEN CONANT

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-24-2024 12:02 PM

The ConVal baseball team showed resilience in its senior night comeback bid against Milford Wednesday, but the young Cougars couldn't quite get over the hump. 

"They're a young team and they're learning how to fight," said first-year head coach Chris Borges after the 5-3 defeat. "They're learning how to fight for wins. They're learning how to claim wins and they're showing flashes of it. Next year's just going to get better and better. Our pitching has been solid and we're able to keep the energy up through the games to continue to fight. There's a lot of good wins for these guys coming."

Indeed, ConVal will graduate just four players -- Justin Borges, David Murray, Avery Steere and Zach Pease -- and has a strong young corps on the way up. Those flashes Chris Borges mentioned were in evidence Wednesday, as freshman starting pitcher Anthony Gutwein was brilliant, hurling 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run and using a devilish breaking ball to fan seven Spartans. 

"Anthony was outstanding today," Chris Borges said, "Hitting his spots as a freshman, outstanding. I think by midway through next season, I'll have three solid aces on this team." The other two main rotational pieces are Gus Hatmaker and Isaac Clough; the latter came in to relieve Gutwein and threw hard. 

ConVal gave up one run on a pair of singles in the second and then a pair on a single and a double in the fifth. Down 3-0, the Cougars rallied in the sixth. Hatmaker, who had just made a tumbling catch on ConVal's left-field hill to end a Milford threat, hit a shot to the same exact spot, but his Spartan counterpart wasn't quite as familiar with the incline, and the ball dropped for a two-run double.

"Gus is a pleasure to coach," Chris Borges said. "He brings energy. He's happy, he clearly loves the game. He just wants to keep playing. I can put him in any position and he can do it. I have no fear."

Milford bounced back and added two more runs in the seventh to all but end ConVal's comeback bid. The Cougars did score once more in their final at-bats, as Pease singled and then scored on an infield hit by catcher Henry Hartwell, but it wasn't quite enough.

ConVal (4-13) finished its season with a 10-6 win at Sanborn Thursday. Out of postseason consideration, that game meant the end of the road for ConVal's four seniors, though shortstop Justin Borges will continue his baseball career at Keene State College next year.

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"I've coached all those boys since they were 10 years old," Chris Borges said. "David, Zach, Avery, Justin, since they were little kids, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I'm sad to see them moving on. I'm going to miss watching them play ball."