BRATTLEBORO—It’s playoff time for the Brattleboro Little League All-Stars.
The 11-12-year-old team is in the midst of a best-of-seven series against Bennington for the District 2 championship. The winner plays in the state tournament.
The tournament began last Saturday night in Bennington as the hosts crushed Brattleboro, 13-0.
For Bennington, the momentum they thought they had going into Game 2 at South Main Street Field on Sunday vanished as Brattleboro came back from a 5-1 deficit to win 7-6 in seven innings.
Pitcher Tyler Millerick got the starting assignment for Brattleboro. He gave up a run in the first inning, but got it back in the home half when he doubled, took third on a passed ball and scored on a double steal.
Bennington’s slugging power showed up in the second inning as Quentin McIntyre hit a two-run homer to right. Tanner King’s RBI single later in the inning pushed the lead to 4-1. A sacrifice fly in the third inning by Logan Sprague then made it 5-1.
Brattleboro began to chip at the lead in their half of the third when Millerick reached on an error and scored on another error.
Millerick was replaced on the mound with two outs in the fourth by Zinabu McNeice, who finished the game and eventually got the win thanks to timely hitting and some great defensive plays.
Brattleboro cut the gap to 5-4 in the fourth on RBI singles by Millerick and catcher Shane Cyr, and sent the game into extra innings when Alex Lier singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to tie the game.
Bennington had a golden chance to win it in the seventh. They had the bases loaded with one out, but McIntyre hit a grounder to McNeice, who threw to Cyr to get an out at home. Cyr then gunned the ball to first to complete an inning-ending double play that brought the crowd to its feet.
After a play like that, one knew that the end was going to come swiftly in the Brattleboro seventh. And it did.
With one out, Shea Buckley reached on an error on his infield hit. Heathcliff Slocombe came up to the plate, and drove a fastball to the center field wall. Buckley raced around the bases to score the winning run and touch off a wild celebration.
“We didn’t want to go down 2-0 in the series. We saw a totally different team today,” said Brattleboro coach Mike Brigham. “We’ve got guys that are solid and have good attitudes. Every one of these guys wanted to make the big play and none of them got down when we got behind.”
At press time, Game 3 was scheduled for July 14 at South Main Street Field. Game 4 is set for Bennington on July 16 at 6 p.m., while Game 5 will be in Brattleboro on July 18 at 4 p.m. Game 6, if necessary, will be in Bennington at a to-be-determined date, and the site of Game 7, if needed, will be decided by a coin flip.
• The Brattleboro 9-10 All Stars are also playing Bennington, and Bennington took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series with an 8-3 win last Saturday and a 15-3 win on Sunday. Bennington hosts the state 9-10 tournament, which gives them a little extra motivation to win.
At press time, Game 3 was scheduled to be played on July 14 in Bennington.
Babe Ruth roundup
• Brattleboro has teams in three state Babe Ruth Baseball tournaments this year, and all three began play last Saturday.
In the 13-15-year-old tourney in St. Johnsbury, Brattleboro drew the host team, and beat them, 7-1, to advance to the championship round. On Sunday, Brattleboro clinched a spot in the championship with a 17-0 win over Suburban in five innings.
At the 14-year-old tourney in St. Albans, Brattleboro faced Franklin County and lost, 13-4. Brattleboro stayed alive in the double-elimination tournament with a 7-3 win over St. Johnsbury on Sunday.
Brattleboro had an early exit from the 13-year-old tourney at S.D. Ireland Field in Burlington. In the first game, Brattleboro took on the host team, Burlington, and lost, 6-4. Brattleboro then lost the elimination bracket game against Franklin County, 12-5.
• On July 2, Bellows Falls Post 37 had a 3-3 record and looked like it was playing well enough to qualify for a playoff spot in the state American Legion Baseball tournament.
Then Post 37 lost six games in six days in an epic free fall that has left Bellows Falls’ playoff hopes in tatters.
It all began on July 5, when Post 37 got swept by Rutland Post 31 in a pair of six-inning defeats, 12-2 and 15-5, at St. Peter’s Field.
In the two games, Bellows Falls used six pitchers and committed nine errors in all. In game one, Rutland scored seven runs in the fifth inning to chase losing pitcher Colby Howe. Post 31 pitcher Jacob Godfrey scattered eight hits to pick up the win.
The second game was a back-and-forth affair until Rutland scored five runs in the sixth inning to clinch their second mercy rule win of the day. Tommy Kenosh held Post 37 to four hits to pick up the win. Nate Greene was the losing pitcher.
It was then Brattleboro Post 5’s turn to take a pair of games from Post 37.
On July 7, Post 5 rolled to a 14-2 win in five innings at Tenney Field. Bellows Falls made seven errors and was uncharacteristically sloppy on defense. Brattleboro was happy to take advantage, scoring three runs in the first and seven runs in the second to put the game out of reach early. Dan Richardson was the winning pitcher for Post 5.
The skid continued on July 8 wiith a 7-3 loss to Brattleboro Post 5 at Hadley Field. Brattleboro’s George Atkins was the winning pitcher, despite giving up three runs in the first three innings. It was his fourth complete game win of the season.
Ed Shambo was the losing pitcher, giving up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work. In all, Post 5 drew nine walks and had two hit batsmen to go with the seven hits they got off Post 37’s pitchers. The Post 37 defense was better, though, with five double plays and only two errors.
Chris Lasch had a total of four hits in the two games for Post 5.
The next day, it was Lakes Region’s turn to beat up on Bellows Falls, with a 13-3 six-inning win at Castleton.
This was an important game for both teams, as they are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Southern Division. A Post 37 win would have put them in control of fourth place. Instead, Lakes Region exited the game with a 3-6 record, while Post 37 fell to 3-8.
Brady Illingworth was the losing pitcher as Post 37 got rocked for nine runs in the third inning. Five hits, two walks, and a pair of errors turned a 3-2 lead for Post 37 into a 11-3 lead for Lakes Region.
While this was happening, Post 5 was in Rutland to take on Post 31, and Brattleboro hung on to win a 14-10 slugfest. Pitcher Kevin Tao made the most of a rare opportunity to hit for himself, and drove in five runs with a pair of doubles and a single.
Post 5 got 10 hits in all off a pair of young Rutland pitchers, Tommy Knosh and Reece de Carlo. Kassidi Ramirez drove in four runs, while Cam Wright and Chris McAulliffe each had two hits and scored five runs between them.
On the mound, Tao had a no-decision after walking eight batters and hitting six more. He lasted until the seventh, when he was lifted for Miles Hearon, who also couldn’t get out of the inning. Richardson had to get the final out to close the book on this game.
Post 5 caught a break on July 10 when Randolph Post 9 forfeited their scheduled game due to a lack of players. That left Brattleboro at 11-1 and in first place in the Southern Division.
Unfortunately, Post 37 got no relief last Friday as Rutland ran the Bellows Falls losing streak to six with a 5-0 victory at Hubbard Field in Walpole, N.H. Godfrey picked up his second straight win over Post 37 with the complete game effort for Post 31.
Austin Stack also went the distance, but was the losing pitcher for Post 37. He got roughed up for three runs in the first inning and never recovered.
All-Star games this weekend
• This Saturday is the day for the two biggest all-star games between the recently graduated high school seniors of Vermont against their counterparts from New Hampshire.
The 33rd edition of the Twin State Basketball Classic will be played at Essex High School. The Granite Staters have a 19-13 edge in both the boys’ and girls’ games.
The girls will open the show at 6 p.m. Local players on the Vermont squad include Haley Buffum from Leland & Gray and Chelsea Wilder from Bellows Falls. The boys game follows at 7:30 p.m. Sam Molner of Twin Valley is the lone Windham County representative.
Earlier in the day, at Castleton State College’s Spartan Stadium, is the 41st Lions Twin State Soccer Cup.
New Hampshire has a 17-15-8 record in the boys’ games and a 17-10-5 record in the girls’ games. Vermont, however, has won the last three boys’ games and played the Granite Staters to a 2-2 draw in last year’s girls’ game.
The girls’ game is at 4 p.m., with the boys’ game to follow at 6:30 p.m. There are no Windham County players on the Vermont rosters, but the Green Mountain boys will be coached by Twin Valley’s Buddy Hayford.
Going the Distance ride breaks records
• More than 70 riders raised nearly $50,000 for the Brattleboro Boys & Girls Club in the sixth annual “Going the Distance” fundraising bike ride on June 27.
That’s a record for both the number of riders as well as the amount raised for the club.
The event saw an eclectic group of riders that represented all ages and came from Vermont, and all over the Northeast, plus Ohio, Illinois, and even Israel. Routes ranged from 100, 60 or 40 miles, all following the Connecticut River Valley with friendly food stops along the way.
The funds raised by this bike ride are always an important part of the Club’s operating budget. It became even more important this year due to the unexpected loss of the Club’s 15-seat passenger van.
Event organizer and longtime board member Bob Nassau said that there was no money budgeted to replace this van, so this year’s proceeds go toward the purchase of a new van.