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Vermont wins Shrine game, ends 15-year losing streak

Commons sports correspondent Christian Avard contributed to this report.

It had to happen sooner or later, and it finally did last Saturday night as Vermont ended a 15-game losing streak to New Hampshire with a decisive 50-2 win in the 63rd annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Castleton University’s Spartan Stadium.

Some might put an asterisk next to that score, since many of New Hampshire’s best high school senior football players opted to play in their state’s East-West all-star game earlier this summer. But it was still the most lopsided result in the game’s history. A fourth-quarter safety by New Hampshire spoiled the Vermonters’ shut out bid.

Defense was a big reason why Vermont dominated this game, with five sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions. Two of the local representatives to this game — defensive backs Zach Streeter of Bellows Falls and Taylor King of Brattleboro — each had an interception, while Brattleboro linebacker Aleks Harrison led the Green Mountain Boys with 10 tackles.

New Hampshire was held to 163 yards of total offense, with minus-44 net rushing yards. They punted five times in the first half.

The Granite Staters’ defense had no answers for Vermont’s offensive attack. Quarterback Ryan Alexander of Fair Haven threw for five touchdowns in the first half. He finished with 148 passing yards and 88 rushing yards. Rutland’s Andy Kenosh kicked a field goal in the first half and threw for two touchdowns in the second half.

New Hampshire still holds a 47-14-2 advantage in the series, but in winning for the first time since 2000, Vermont is doing its best to make the Shrine game relevant again.

Post 5 falls in regional tourney

• Brattleboro Post 5 made a quick exit from the American Legion Baseball Northeast Regionals at Muzzy Field in Bristol, Conn., last week.

That outcome isn’t a reflection of Brattleboro’s skill level. It is a reflection of a young team going up against some of the top baseball programs in New England.

Post 5 lost its opening game, 6-1, to Post 387 of Shrewsbury, Mass., on Wednesday.

Shrewsbury got a run off Post 5’s starting pitcher Leif Biglow in the first inning. Bigelow hit leadoff batter Adam Twitchell with a pitch. Twitchell then advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Luke Gorham.

That first inning showed two things: Shrewsbury could handle Bigelow’s fastball, and they were going to create runs anyway they could.

That definitely was the case in the third inning, when Shrewsbury scored three runs. Three straight successful steals of second base set up those runs, as Gorham, Nicholas Martin, and Matthew Bonolio all had RBI singles.

When Shrewsbury led off the fourth with a pair of hard singles, Post 5 coach Eric Libardoni switched things up by bringing in Chayse Cunniff to pitch, and moving Bigelow to shortstop, Christopher Lasch to catcher, and Tanner Bell to right field.

That is Post 5’s defensive alignment when Bigelow is not on the mound, and arguably its strongest. With Cunniff and Sam Ognenoff splitting the pitching chores, Shrewsbury was held to just two runs the rest of the way.

Unfortunately, Post 5 couldn’t score any runs until the seventh inning. Shrewsbury starter Matt Stansky held Brattleboro scoreless throughout first six innings. In the seventh, Post 5 chased Stansky after a walk to Cunniff and an Ognenoff single. Twitchell came in to relieve Stansky, and Cunniff then scored on a fielders’ choice by Lasch.

Post 5 had the bases loaded in that inning, but couldn’t score more than the one run.

Shrewsbury finished with 12 hits off Brattleboro, Martin had three of those hits.

On Aug. 4, Kassidi Ramirez was on the mound for Post 5 in a win-or-go-home game against the host team, Bristol Post 2.

Bristol prevailed, 2-1, in a game that turned on some early errors by the Post 5 defense.

Ramirez pitched well, holding Bristol to just two runs over nine innings with six hits and eight strikeouts. However, both the runs were unearned, due to four Brattleboro errors in the first two innings.

Those were all the runs that Bristol’s starting pitcher, Brad Burney, needed to earn the victory. He held Post 5 hitless over the first six innings and struck out 13 batters in all for a complete-game victory.

Ramirez, who went 2-for-4 at the plate and scored Post 5’s only run, did what he could on the mound to keep his team alive in the tourney. After the first two innings, Ramirez shut out Bristol the rest of the way.

Burney had a no-hitter going until the seventh, when Ramirez singled. Bigelow followed with another single, and Thomas Carroll loaded the bases with no outs with a bunt single. Burney then buckled down and struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning.

Ramirez doubled to lead off the Post 5 ninth. Bigelow followed with what looked like an infield hit, until first baseman Troy Micale snagged the errant throw of shortstop Ben Mazzone and got the out at first.

A two-out single by Cunniff scored Ramirez, but Matthew Dulmaine flied out to left to end Post 5’s season.

It was a disappointing ending, but Post 5’s players can console themselves with the memory of an undefeated run through the state tournament that gave Brattleboro its first Vermont Legion baseball title since 1999. And first-year coach Eric Libardoni and his staff deserve every accolade for guiding this team to its first regional tournament appearance in 17 years.

LL 12s swept in New Englands

• The Brattleboro 11-12 Little League All-Stars lost to Scarborough, Maine, 8-4, in the opening game of the New England Regional Tournament at Breen Field in Bristol, Conn., on Sunday.

Despite outhitting their opponents, 11-8, Brattleboro was no match for Scarborough. Zinabu McNeice was Brattleboro’s starting pitcher and he got into early trouble by walking in two runs in the top of the first inning and giving up a two-run homer to Scarborough’s Nic Frink in the top of the second.

Brattleboro cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the third when McNeice hit a two-run single to center field to score Jack Pattison and Caden Wood.

Scarborough exploded in the fourth with six more runs, chasing McNeice. Wood came in to relieve McNeice, and gave up two earned runs. Wood was then replaced by Aaron Petrie, who got Brattleboro out of the jam and pitched effectively in the last two innings.

In the fifth, McNiece hit another single to center field. This time the runs were scored by Alex Bingham and Wood.

McNeice took the loss. He struck out seven batters and gave up six runs, four of them earned. On offense, he went 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Wood went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and Pattison and Bingham each had a hit and a run scored.

Brattleboro Little League Commissioner Dave Cyr estimated that up to 100 fans made the trip to Bristol on Sunday. “In all the years, we’ve been coming down to this tournament, this is most team spirit I’ve ever seen,” said Cyr.

On Tuesday, Brattleboro lost to Bedford, N.H., 10-3, and was eliminated from the New England tournament. Despite losing both their games in this tournament, this team provided a lot of great baseball for its fans.

Also participating in the tourney for Brattleboro were Alex Carpenter, Turner Clews, Tristan Evans, Elias Gradinger, Sam Henry, Huxley Holcombe, Jack Pattison, and Magnus von Krusenstiern. Mike Bingham was the manager, and Jeff Henry and Rob Pattison were the coaches.

Senior bowling roundup

• While Team 10 (49-21) has a lock on first place after Week 14 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, there was plenty of movement in the standings behind them. Team 8 (42-28) moved from fifth into second place, while Team 6 (41.5-28.5) is just a half-game back in third.

Team 4 (41-29) slipped from second to fourth, and Team 3 (38-22) slid from third to fifth place. Team 9 (37.5-32.5) is in sixth, followed by Team 2 (32.5-37.5), Team 5 (29-41), Team 1 (29-41), and Team 11 (18.5-51.5).

Team 9 had the high handicap game (665) and series (1,978). Arlene Blum had the women’s high handicap game (267) and series (703). Ed Curtiss and Fred Ainsworth had the men’s high handicap game (237), while Ainsworth had the high handicap series (665).

Once again, none of the women rolled a 200-plus game, or a 500-plus series. Ainsworth had a pair of 200-plus games (213 and 202) and a 593 series. Other men in the 500 club included Warren Corriveau Sr. (530), Fred Bump (512), and Peter Cross (506).

High averages for the women last week were Sonya Shippee (155), Shirley Aiken (153), and Lorraine Taylor (146). Top men’s averages belonged to Fred Ashworth (178), Jerry Dunham (172) and Marty Adams (171).

By the way, it’s not too soon to be thinking about the fall senior league, which starts on Sept. 1. If you want to participate, call Brattleboro Bowl at 802-257-1177.

Pool closes Aug. 14

• It was fun while it lasted, but the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department says that the swimming pool at Living Memorial Park will be closing for the season on Sunday, Aug. 14, at 8 p.m.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #369 (Wednesday, August 10, 2016). This story appeared on page C4.

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