All through the regular American Legion Baseball season, Rutland Post 31 was the top dog in the Southern Division, and Brattleboro Post 5 and Bellows Falls Post 37 were left to fight for the scraps.
But in the state Legion tournament at Castleton State College, it was Brattleboro and Bellows Falls that advanced to the quarterfinals, while Rutland was knocked out early. It was one illustration of how little separated were the top four teams in the South, and how strong were the top teams in the North — Essex and Colchester.
In the opening games on July 24, Brattleboro, the South’s No. 2 seed, shut out Franklin County, the North’s No. 3 seed, 4-0. The top North seed, Essex Post 91, beat No. 4 Bellows Falls, 10-3.
Danny Richardson threw a complete-game five-hitter to lead Post 5 to the win. Chris McAuliffe had two hits and drove in a run, while Cam Wright hit an RBI single.
The game between Essex and Bellows Falls was close until the sixth inning, when Essex broke a 1-1 tie by scoring six runs. Post 37 starter Chris Armstrong threw five strong innings but ran out of gas in the sixth to take the loss. Mike LaBeau hit a solo home run in the seventh for Bellows Falls.
In second-day play on July 25, Essex shut out Post 5, 3-0, while Post 37 stayed alive with a 5-2 win over Franklin County.
Brattleboro starter Jimmy Mills and reliever George Atkins did a pretty good job bottling up the Essex offense, but Post 5 could only manage three hits — all singles — by McAuliffe, Wright, and Ron Heilman.
Essex starter Davis Mikell struck 13 batters and needed only 115 pitches for the complete-game shutout victory.
Bellows Falls played its customary “small ball” game to near perfection against Franklin County, as Post 37 needed just five hits to knock Franklin County out of the tournament. LaBeau threw a complete-game three-hitter, striking out eight, for the win.
Post 37 scored four runs in the fourth inning on a wild pitch, an error, and a suicide squeeze bunt by Ed Shambo. Carson Fullam also had an RBI single in the inning. Ethan Illingworth got an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth.
The big surprise in the tournament was top-seeded Rutland Post 31’s early exit. Lake Region, the only team to beat Rutland in the regular season, sent Post 31 home with a 6-3 win on July 25.
Lake Region faced Brattleboro, while Bellows Falls took on Colchester in the elimination games on day three, July 26.
Cory Hemingway gave Colchester a walk-off 8-7 win over Bellows Falls with his base hit to left-center, which scored Nick Lamphere in the bottom of the ninth.
Jared Rylant went 3-for-3 with a three-run home run in the fourth inning for Colchester; Derek Sanderson was 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored.
Reliever Sean Callahan picked up the win with a scoreless final 1.2 innings, striking out three. LeBeau took the loss in relief for Bellows Falls.
Lakes Region eked out a 7-5 win over Brattleboro. Justin Owen went the distance for the win, scattering eight hits and striking out nine. Owen held Post 5 scoreless through six innings and got help from a four-run seventh to take control.
Pat Mumford, Lincoln Pritchard, Ian Mescencik, and Ryan Darling collected two hits apiece for Lakes Region.
Youth baseball roundup
• Last Friday, the Brattleboro 14-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball All-Stars opened the New England tournament in Westfield, Mass., with a 2-0 loss to Windham, Maine, but followed that up the next day with a dramatic 5-4 win over Exeter, N.H.
Brattleboro scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to walk off with the win. Exeter, which also lost 10-2 to host Westfield last Friday, was knocked out of the double-elimination tournament.
On Monday night, Trumbull, Conn. beat Brattleboro, 10-0, to knock them out of the tournament. A victory would have put them into Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
• The Brattleboro 11-year-old Little League All-Stars made it all the way to the state finals, but fell short to Mad River, 12-2, in the championship game in Waitsfield on July 24 in a four-inning game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule.
Brattleboro took an early 2-0 lead, but errors and walks opened the door for Mad River to take a 6-2 lead in the second inning. Mad River then shut down Brattleboro the rest of the way.
The Brattleboro team was made up of Nick Bingham, Shea Buckley, Greg Fitzgerald, Ryan Gerard, Alex Kendall, Nico Hessel, Spencer Lawrence, Rachael Rooney, Gavin Seppala, Liam Styles, Henry Thurber, and Trinley Warren.
Coaches were Tim Rooney, Ed Kendall, Mike Bingham, and Manager Jim Waters.
Youth Services’ golf tournament nets more than $20,000
A strong turnout by local golfers — 84 in all — and strong corporate support made Youth Services’ 29th annual Golf Tournament a big success, generating close to $23,000 to help underwrite the agency’s programs.
The tournament, sponsored by G.S. Precision, was held July 23, a hot and muggy day, at the Brattleboro Country Club. The team of Cathy Coonan, Dave Anderson, Rick Manson, and Drew Richards won First Gross, with the team of Bill Morlock, Fred Koledo, Peter Andrews, and Tim Kangas finishing First Net.
The team of Caleb Lynn, Guy Lindblom, Steve Tissier, and Nick Palazzolo took Second Gross; Sean Long, Jeff Morse, Wayne Wright, and Debbie Boyle took Second Net.
Elizabeth Walker won the prize for the Women’s Longest Drive. Tracy Sloan won the prize for Women’s Closest to the Pin.
In the Men’s Division, Hugh Barber took the prize for Longest Drive. Barry Waxman took Closest to the Line, with Drew Richards winning Closest to Pin.
Youth Services’ board member Rick Hashagen, with his grandson, Joshua Nordheim, ran a putting contest, which raised $190 for the agency. There were nine golfers who made the putt. The winner of the putting contest was Laren Forrister.