Why is baseball an endlessly fascinating game?
Because you can have a game featuring the two best pitchers in southern Vermont and have one of them not make it out of the fourth inning, while the other goes the distance, and ends up the losing pitcher.
Because a team that scored 21 runs in one game can be shut down and held to three hits the next day.
Because you can have a game where both teams are not hitting, making errors in the field, and generally playing less than perfectly, and both teams still have a chance to win the game, right up until the final out.
And, you enjoy watching a great game under a bright April sun on a Vermont afternoon that still had enough of a chill to remind you that while spring is here, the weather can still turn on a dime.
If you were at Hadley Field in Westminster on April 20, you were treated to a taut 4-3 baseball game between Brattleboro and Bellows Falls that was won by BF in the bottom of the eighth inning on a base hit to left field by Brady Illingworth.
Illingworth’s hit completed a comeback from a 3-0 deficit off a pitcher that the Terriers had a hard time figuring out, Brattleboro’s Leif Bigelow.
After BF’s ace pitcher Zac Streeter walked three straight batters in the second inning and then gave up a three-run double to Sam Ognenoff, the Terriers found themselves down, 3-0.
But that was the high water mark for the Colonels’ offense. Streeter settled down, but BF coach Bob Lockerby rolled the dice and took him out to save him for a Saturday game at Burr & Burton.
Lockerby used Jacob Metcalf and Alex Groenwold in relief and, together with Streeter, they combined for 14 strikeouts and four walks while holding the Colonels to just three hits — Ognenoff’s double, another double by Tony Martinez to right-center in the fourth inning, and a Dillon Green single to left in the fifth.
Brattleboro coach Chris Groeger was frustrated with the lack of offense, especially his team had scored a ton of runs the day before in a 21-6 rout of Windsor.
“It’s just disappointing,” said Groeger, whose team fell to 3-1. “Don’t take anything away from Bellows Falls, but we struck out 14 times and at least six of them were looking. We’re not making plays in the infield, and our catcher isn’t blocking balls that he needs to. It’s just asking for trouble.”
Until things fell apart in the later innings, Bigelow was dominating, with 11 strikeouts and just two walks. He held BF to four hits, and his curve ball was unhittable.
BF started chipping away at the Colonel lead in the fourth inning, when Clayton Groenwold hit an RBI double in the fourth. In the sixth, the Terriers tied the game with a pair of unearned runs on an error and a passed ball.
After consecutive errors by Brattleboro in the bottom of the eighth, Illingworth ended it with his one-out single that brought in Jacob Streeter from second base with the winning run.
“I was looking for [Bigelow’s] curve,” said Illingworth of the pitch he hit. “He was throwing to the outside corner, and I just went with the pitch.”
He added that he was confident his team could come back, even against a tough pitcher like Bigelow.
“He’s a good pitcher who throws hard. We just needed to keep our energy up and keep fighting,” said Illingworth “We were only down 3-0.”
“Brady is a leader,” said Lockerby. “People forget that he’s still a junior.”
And Lockerby had no regrets using three of his pitchers to win the game.
“We gave them a lot of extra outs, which meant a lot of extra pitches for Zac. We had to get him out of there to save him for the end of the week.”
Unfortunately, that strategy ultimately did not work out for the Terriers, as they lost to to Rutland, 7-3 ,on Thursday and then got shutout by Burr & Burton, 5-0, on Saturday.
Illingworth took the loss against Rutland, although he did strike out nine batters. Zac Streeter went six innings against the Bulldogs; he gave up seven hits but walked no one and struck out three as BF’s record fell to 2-2 on the season.
• Brattleboro is off to a good start, winning three of its first four games.
On April 19, the Colonels beat up on Windsor, 21-4. Brattleboro had 20 hits in all, including a solo home run by Hailey Derosia, while Jamie Mahoney, Hannah Wilson, Lauren McKenney, Jocelyn Aither, Mariah Powers, and Sylvia Patenaude all had multiple hits. Wilson and Aither split the pitching duties, and together they gave up five hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
Last Friday, Brattleboro had its first defeat of the year, a 4-2 road loss to Wahconah. Bridget Duff had a pair of hits for the Colonels, who managed one run in the fourth inning and another in the seventh. Wilson struck out seven, walked four, and allowed six hits to take the loss.
The Colonels bounced back the next afternoon at Sawyer Field with a 2-1 win over Otter Valley. Brattleboro got both of its runs in the first inning, as Mahoney tripled, McKenney singled, and then Duff drove in what ultimately turned out to be the game-winning run.
Brattleboro made those two runs stand up, thanks to a solid pitching performance by Wilson. She struck out eight, walked just one, and held the Otters to just three hits to pick up the win.
• After striking out 17 times and being held to two hits by Springfield’s Jade Twombley in a 10-0 loss on April 16, Bellows Falls drew another tough assignment in hosting Rutland on April 21.
This time, nine errors doomed the Terriers as they lost, 11-5, to the Raiders. BF pitcher Murphy Hicks struck out six and walked two, while Aly Bashaw led the 1-3 Terriers with three hits and three RBIs.
The Terriers had better luck last Saturday against Whitchester, the cooperative team made up of players from two central Vermont high schools, Rochester and Whitcomb. Bellows Falls scored 15 runs in the first inning, and ultimately won, 30-3, in a five-inning game in Bethel cut short by the 15-run “mercy rule.”
Bashaw again had the hot bat with five hits and five RBis. Lila Guerrina, Paxton Santorelli, and Emily Stoddard each had two hits, while Abbe Cravinho scored five times. Hicks struck out five and gave up five hits as BF improved to 2-3 on the season.
• Brattleboro is still looking for its first win of the season. On April 22, they lost to Wahconah, 11-8, at Natowich Field. Emmy Cote scored five goals for the victors.
Susanna Strothman and Olivia Stent each had three goals to lead the 0-3 Colonels. Axis Balsley-Petraska and Liz Day each scored once, while Day also dished out three assists. Brianna Ogden made seven saves in goals for Brattleboro.
Local runners do well at Boston Marathon
• The 120th edition of the Boston Marathon took place on April 18, and while it was a sunny and mild day with temperatures in the mid-60s and a slight headwind, the overall pace was much slower than in past years.
There were more than 27,000 runners that attempted the trek between Hopkinton and Copley Square in Boston, including several from Windham County.
The top local finisher was Tammy Richards of Williamsville, who finished in 2,182nd with a time of 3 hours, 5 minutes, 46 seconds.
Jessica Marlier of Brattleboro ran the course in 3:14:26, good enough for 3,646th. David Hiler of Brattleboro finished in 3:44:40, while Maxine Stent of Brattleboro finished in 4:11:59.
Fun Run series starts May 4
• This year’s Brattleboro Fun Run series, which is directed by Gary and Chris Montgomery, will start on May 4 and take place every other Wednesday through the summer until Sept. 7.
The racing will begin at 6:30 p.m., near the Brattleboro Country Club on Upper Dummerston Road, with runners having the option of entering the one-mile, two-mile, three-mile, or 2.4-mile trail run.
The free races are all out-and-back courses. The race schedule looks like this: May 4, May 18, June 1, June 15, June 29, July 13, July 27, Aug. 10, Aug. 24, and Sept. 7.
The Sept. 7 race night will feature an Australian Pursuit, with the directors handicapping the races to give each runner a fair shot at winning. Prizes will also be drawn for one youth and one adult that have entered at least three races during the summer. As always, cookies and water will be available to all runners.
Tulip Trot set for May 14
• The fourth annual Green Street Tulip Trot 5K Run/Walk and half-mile Sprout Run will be held on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m.
Last year, more than 300 enthusiastic participants enjoyed this family-friendly run and fitness walk that starts and ends at Green Street School in Brattleboro.
The route is 3.1 miles of road and wooded trails that winds through neighborhood streets before entering the scenic Retreat Trails at the base of Brattleboro’s famous Harris Hill ski jump. Younger children can enjoy a half-mile “Sprout” fun-run around the school’s campus.
After the race, enjoy music, refreshments and good times for all. If you choose not to run or walk, you are encouraged to cheer on the runners.
All proceeds support PTO enrichment programs at Green Street School. To register, donate, volunteer, or be a race sponsor for the 2016 event, call 802-254-3737, like the event on Facebook, and visit www.tuliptrot5K.com.