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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Portsmouth (N.H.) reclaims national win streak

By Roger Brown

Portsmouth
Portsmouth's Kyle DiCesare had three extra-base hits for 4 RBIs to help the Clippers reclaim the nation's longest active win streak.
WINDHAM, N.H. -- History was made when the Portsmouth (N.H.) High School baseball team defeated Windham 10-0 Wednesday, but you wouldn't have known it by looking at how the Portsmouth players reacted to the win.

The victory established a national record for consecutive victories by a high school baseball team. The Clippers, who have won 88 games in a row, also set the national record for consecutive wins last season, when they stretched their winning streak to 76 games by beating Pembroke Academy.

Portsmouth ended the 2011 season with an 83-game winning streak, but Martensdale-St. Marys (Martensdale, Iowa) trumped Portsmouth by extending its winning streak to 87 games last spring.

“Last year, passing [the record] for the first time seemed like a bigger deal,” Portsmouth centerfielder Kyle DiCesare said. “It's just another step closer to our goal this year. If you ask any of the guys our real goal is to win another championship.”

Portsmouth, which raised its record to 5-0, has won the last four NHIAA Division II titles.

The Clippers scored three runs in the first inning, one in the third, five in the fourth and one in the fifth. The game ended after the fifth because of the 10-run mercy rule.

DiCesare led the Portsmouth offense with three hits (two doubles, triple) and four RBI. Leftfielder Dillon Crosby collected four hits and drove in two.

Junior Ricky Holt held Windham to two hits in 4 2/3 innings to pick up the win. Holt was also the winning pitcher when Portsmouth broke Homer (Mich.) High School's record last season with a 10-2 triumph over Pembroke Academy.

“I don't really feel it that much because the first one was a lot bigger,” Holt said. “It's a good feeling though.”

Holt improved his pitching record to 3-0 and has allowed one run in his three starts.

Portsmouth has outscored its five opponents 51-2 this season.

“It's weird because it's baseball,” Windham coach Derek Lee said. “I could understand if it was basketball and you have your dominating center, your dominating point guard, but baseball anybody can lose at any given time. The fact that they have this streak in this sport...it's unbelievable how they've gone about doing this.

“If they win the championship again this year it's going to be quite an accomplishment, because they don't have any Division I scholarship players this year [six players from the Portsmouth program are currently playing Division I college baseball]. If they keep the streak this year it will be much more amazing than it already is.”

Portsmouth's last loss came against Hollis-Brookline in the semifinals of the 2007 Class I tournament. The Clippers moved from Class L to Class I (now Division II)— a move based on the school's decreased enrollment— after the 2006 season.

Portsmouth coach Tim Hopley said he traded several emails with Martensdale-St. Mary's coach Justin Dehmer this week. Hopley said Dehmer sent him a text message wishing Portsmouth luck before Wednesday's game.

Martensdale-St. Mary's is scheduled to open its season May 21.

“We've done it a little differently than they have,” Hopley said. “They've had a two-year grind of playing 40-plus games. I can't imagine what that would be like, basically playing a game every day and stringing all those victories back to back. For us it's been four-plus years and so many different kids.”

Friday's game against Souhegan and Monday's contest at St. Thomas figure to be two of Portsmouth's toughest tests this season. Portsmouth defeated St. Thomas in the 2009 and 2011 championship games.

“If anyone beats them this year I think it will be St. Thomas,” Lee said. “They have the horses to do it.”

Hopley said he was fine with the fact that there was much more pomp and circumstance when the Clippers set the national record last year.

“I'm OK with it because we've asked the guys to focus on the here and now, and not get caught up in the big picture,” he said. “We came here to win our fifth game of the season. It just so happened that we added on to some other things, like that big number.”