It’s been said many times: Brattleboro is a baseball town. Never is it more true than in those eight weeks between mid-June and early August, when Little League, Babe Ruth, and American Legion baseball are in full swing.
This year, Brattleboro is sending a 13-15-year-old All-Star team into the New England Regionals. The Post 5 team will soon be playing in the state Legion championships. And, on Monday night, the Little League 11-12-year-old All-Stars defeated Bennington, 15-14, to win the District 2 title and host the state championship.
For my money, the best baseball in those golden weeks is played in the Little League district tournament. Each year, Brattleboro and Bennington hook up in a best-of-seven series. The games are always close, the drama is always intense, and the kids on both teams play with emotion and heart.
This year’s series saw the visiting team win every game. In Monday night’s Game 6, with a chance to win it all, Brattleboro came back from a 14-9 deficit to score six runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat Bennington.
Brattleboro got off to a rocky start. Bennington scored three runs in the first inning and three more in the second. Brattleboro scored a run in the first and two more in the second to cut Bennington’s lead, 6-3, but Brattleboro starting pitcher Alex Bingham struggled on the mound. He gave up six runs in the top of the third and Bennington pulled ahead, 12-3.
But Brattleboro came back in the bottom half of the inning. Alex Carpenter started it off with a solo home run to right field. Bennington starting pitcher Dylan Coyne loaded the bases and Brattleboro’s Caden Wood hit a single to left field to score Tristan Evans. Coyne walked in two more runs, Carpenter batted again in the inning and hit a two-run RBI single to cut Bennington’s lead to 12-9.
Center fielder Zinabu McNeice threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth inning, but Bennington still scored a run in the fifth and sixth innings. That 14-9 lead was not a secure one, as Brattleboro put together a fantastic finish.
Bennington relief pitcher Billy Rogers walked Wood and McNeice. Huxley Holcombe made it to first on another throwing error and Bingham scored. Aaron Petrie singled to center field, scoring Wood and Bennington’s lead was cut down, 14-12.
Rogers loaded the bases, walked Carpenter and Gradinger, and two more runs scored for Brattleboro. With the scored tied, 14-14, Rogers threw a wild pitch and Petrie ran home. He beat the tag and the game was over.
“I remember the ball going pass the catcher and I just thought this was my opportunity,” said an exhausted Petrie. “I didn’t see (Rogers) moving very quickly (to home) and next thing you know, I scored.”
Monday’s win was set-up by a 14-4 victory in Game 5 in Bennington on Sunday. Wood hit a grand slam, his fourth home run of the series, in going 3-for-3. Petrie also had a 3-for-3 day and Bingham went 2-for-4 with a homer. Wood, the winning pitcher, threw four innings, with Jack Pattison and Gradinger pitching an inning each of effective relief.
Brattleboro had a chance to win Game 4 at home on Saturday, but Bennington’s Brodie Krawczyk got the better of McNeice in a 4-3 pitchers duel. Brattleboro had a 3-1 lead in the game, thanks to a two-run homer by Bingham and an RBI single by Carpenter, but Krawczyk helped his cause with a three-run homer off relief pitcher Bingham in the fifth inning.
With Monday’s victory, Brattleboro earned the honor of hosting the state Little League tournament, which begins this Saturday at 1 p.m., at South Main Street Field.
• While Bennington’s 11-12 team lost, its 10-year-old All Stars swept Brattleboro in three games, winning the deciding game of the best-of-five series last Tuesday, 8-7.
Brattleboro fought hard in a see-saw battle, but Bennington prevailed in the bottom of the sixth when they scored the final run on a wild pitch. Willem Thurber, Brandon Weeks, Will Hill, Bronson Finnell, and Degan Gundry led the offense for Brattleboro despite the losing effort.
• The regular season wraps up this week for American Legion Baseball, and both Brattleboro Post 5 and Bellows Falls Post 37 have clinched berths in the state tournament.
Brattleboro beat Bellows Falls, 6-2, at Tenney Field on July 15, but Post 5 got swept by Rutland Post 31 on Sunday, losing the first game, 4-1, and dropped the second, 3-2.
At press time Tuesday night, Post 5 was scheduled to host Post 37 in the regular season finale. In the July 15 game at Tenney Field, Ben Betz pitched four shutout innings for Post 5 before running into trouble in the fifth inning, when Post 37 scored both of their runs on an error. He still earned the win, however.
“We had the bases loaded twice and couldn’t get a run in,” said Post 37 coach Bill Lockerby.
Zac Streeter was the losing pitcher for Post 37. Post 5 got a run in the first when Kassidi Ramirez tripled and scored on an error. Tanner Bell drove in another run in third inning and, in the fourth inning, Sam Ognenoff and Chris Lasch had back-to-back two-run doubles.
“Betz threw lots of strikes,” said Post 5 coach Eric Libardoni. “Our problem is still stringing hits together when we need them.”
Nonetheless, Brattleboro has had an outstanding season to this point, with a 16-7 overall record. Bellows Falls exited the Post 5 game with a 9-8 record.
Heading into Tuesday’s game, four Post 5 players have have had more than 20 hits — Ramirez (28), Lasch (27), Bell (23), and Leif Bigelow (21). Ramirez and Bell have hit 23 and 22 singles, respectively, while Dan Petrie leads the team in doubles with five. Lasch has hit three triples, but no one has hit a home run. Bell is hitting .404 (23-for-57), while Ramirez is hitting .400 (28-for-70).
As for pitching, the big three of Bigelow (6-3), Ognenoff (4-1), and Betz (4-2) have accounted for most of the decisions. Bigelow has struck out 46 batters while walking 16. He leads the team in innings pitched (46), games pitched (11), and batters hit by pitches (7).
Babe Ruth roundup
• Rain disrupted the start of the Vermont 14-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball tournament in Winooski, so Brattleboro had to wait a week to complete its opening game. When it resumed on July 15, Brattleboro beat Franklin County, 20-10.
Brattleboro then lost to Lyndon, 6-2, and had to fight its way out of the loser’s bracket on July 16. Brattleboro needed eight innings to get by Suburban, 5-4, to set up a rematch with undefeated Lyndon on July 17.
Winning two games in one day against the same team was a tall order for Brattleboro, but they almost pulled it off. They beat Lyndon, 9-7, in the first game. The second game was a slugfest that ended with Lyndon on top, 19-18. Lyndon advanced to the New England Regionals, which begin on July 24 in Harrison, Maine.
BOC hosts tennis tourney
• The annual Larry Bloch/Brattleboro Outing Club Singles Tournament was played over the weekend at the Brattleboro Outing Club on Cedar Street.
Thirty players, ranging in age from 13 to 74, from Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire descended on the Outing Club’s six clay courts for a weekend of great tennis.
There were two divisions with a consolation round in each. In the Open division, defending champion Vasu Raghavan from Massachusetts defeated Jonathan Kraiger, a former Vermont Academy standout now living in Connecticut. Vasu and Jonathan delighted the crowd with exceptional shotmaking with Vasu claiming the title by a 6-3, 6-2 score.
Tom Weber of Alstead, N.H., defeated Jonathan Bannon of Sutton, Mass., 6-3, 6-1 to win the consolation.
It took three sets to decide the Club division winners with John Donaldson of Brattleboro defeating Jared Flynn of Dummerston 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 to claim the title. David Hadaway of Ringe, N.H., defeated BUHS stalwart Martin Sipowicz, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1 to win the consolation.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 11 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw Team 10 still in first place with a 43-12 record, followed by Team 4 (36-19), Team 8 (35-12), Team 6 (32.5-22.5), Team 3 (32-23), Team 2 (25.5-29.5), Team 9 (23.5-31.5), Team 5 (20-35), Team 1 (18-37) and Team 11 (17.5-37.5).
Team 4 had the high handicap game (652), and high handicap series (1,886). Carole Frizell had the women’s high handicap game (169), while Doris Lake had the high handicap series (643). Marty Adams rolled the men’s high handicap game (236) and high handicap series (686).
No women had a 200-plus game, but three men did: Adams (236), Fred Ashworth (207), and Jerry Dunham (218). The men also rolled the only 500-series: Adams (599), Ashworth (572), Warren Corriveau Sr. (544), and Dunham (520).
High averages for the women last week were Sonya Shippee (157), Shirley Aiken (153), and Lorraine Taylor (149). Top men’s averages belonged to Ashworth (178), Adams (174). and Dunham (172).
Youth Services golf tourney is July 27
• Youth Services invites area golfers to participate in its annual golf tournament at Brattleboro Country Club on Wednesday, July 27. This is the 31st year that Youth Services has organized this tournament to support the safety net for youth in our community, making it one of the longest-running charity tournament in the area.
The event will kick off with a free lunch from noon to 1 p.m. The shotgun start for the Scrambles format tournament will take place at 1 p.m. sharp. Following the tournament there will be a banquet.
Prizes will also be awarded for low gross and low net game scores, as well as for the Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin for both men and women. Mulligans also will be on sale, and the traditional putting contest will take place during the tournament.
All proceeds from the tournament, which annually nets close to $20,000, will help support Youth Services’ programs. Now celebrating its 44th year helping local families thrive, Youth Services promotes the healthy development of more than 1,500 local youth and families each year.
The all-inclusive registration fee for the tournament is $130 per individual or $520 per foursome. The fee covers greens fees and cart, a buffet lunch, and dinner following the tournament.
Dinner-only tickets may also be purchased for $35 each, giving non-golfers an opportunity to enjoy dinner and participate in the raffles and auctions and relax on the Brattleboro Country Club deck or dining room. To register for the tournament, call Youth Services at 802-257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org/golf.