New Hampshire’s Guzman has perfect cold weather mindset

By DN WRITING STAFF | March 24, 2024

Charlie LaBranche fueled New Hampshire’s nine-run first with an opposite field two-run double.

By Rich Bevensee

Whether he was excited to start the baseball season or it was too cold to prepare like he normally does for a game, Josiah Guzman skirted his usual pre-game warmup and took the ball for the New Hampshire Prospects 12U team, layers and all.

And except for his long, flowing locks trailing from the back of his cap, you couldn’t exactly see Guzman either, as he stood on the mound with his face covered by a ski mask to cut down on the frigid winds.

All the Massapequa Cyclones Gold team saw of Guzman was his fastball darting in and around the plate, and very few balls getting put into play.

Guzman, seemingly unfazed by the weather, allowed two hits over three innings and led the Prospects to a 13-3, four-inning pool play victory in the 12U Battle At The Turf on Sunday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“I have to thank the coaching, which was amazing, especially coach Preston, my pitching coach – and hand warmers,” Guzman said.  “Getting our first W, yeah that felt good.”

Guzman said he normally uses 30 minutes to warm up when he pitches but batting practice and preparing for the cold weather – game time temperature was 28 degrees – cut into his prep time. 

“Honestly I was surprised how well I threw because I didn’t stretch as much as normal,” Guzman said. “You just gotta be confident when it’s cold like this.”

Will Ricci, who singled and had a two-run double, came on to pitch a scoreless fourth inning for New Hampshire. 

Ricci was one of five Prospects with at least one RBI, many of them coming in a nine-run first inning in which New Hampshire sent 14 batters to the plate and took a 9-3 lead. 

“I’d say 1 through 13 we have a lot of good sticks,” New Hampshire coach Connor Jenkins said. “We have a lot of good bats and thankfully, despite the cold, we got to see a lot of them do well today.”

In the bottom of the first, New Hampshire trailed 3-0 when Ryan Bernard pushed across the first run with a bases-loaded walk and Owen Labrie scored on a passed ball.

Charlie LaBranche had the first ringing hit of the game, an opposite-field, two-run double to the right-center field wall which gave the Prospects a 4-3 lead. 

Two more runs crossed on an infield error on Philip Lapierre’s grounder. Guzman scored on a wild pitch, and Blaine Gillespie cranked a two-run double to left center to give New Hampshire a 9-3 lead. 

“We had one scrimmage and a few practices outside so we’re used to the cold,” said Jenkins, whose team is from Manchester, which sits on the southern border of the state. “Cold’s a mindset. If you talk to them about it and complain about it all the time, then it gets worse. Everybody’s cold so you have to push through it and do your thing.

Josiah Guzman allowed three runs on two hits over three innings for the New Hampshire Prospects.

“I’d say we handled it pretty well so far.”

Guzman allowed Massapequa three runs in its first at bat on two hits and three walks. But that was all the damage the visitors from Long Island could muster.

Guzman slipped out of a jam in the third inning when he allowed two runners to reach scoring position. He walked the first, struck out two and walked another, his fifth of the game. Guzman got his third whiff of the inning to escape damage. 

Guzman finished with three runs allowed on two hits and five walks and he struck out seven.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Jenkins said of Guzman. “We normally wouldn’t love that he had five walks but it’s cold out and that’s gonna happen. He settled in nicely after the first inning. Once he got some confidence by living in the zone he threw very well today.”

New Hampshire padded its lead with four runs in the third inning. Ricci pounded a two-run double to left. Emmett Goonan added a one-out RBI single and he later scored on an infield overthrow. 

Massapequa jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the game with a short two-out rally. Johan Adames walked with the bases loaded and Anthony Clarke lofted a fly ball which landed just inside the left field line and drove in two runs. 

New Hampshire was to complete pool play against the Newtown Blue Dogs at 11:40 a.m. today. Massapequa was to face Flores Baseball Braves Red Scout at 11:40 a.m. The 12U semifinals are at 3:30 p.m. and the final is at 5:20 p.m.

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