Last week was the final week of the regular season for American Legion Baseball in Vermont, and Brattleboro Post 5 and Bellows Falls Post 37 spent the week battling for playoff spots.
Post 5 secured the top spot in the Southern Division. They head into this week’s state tournament with a 12-4 record, while Manchester Union Underground took the second spot at 11-7.
Post 37 and White River Junction Post 84 battled for the third and final spot, and it took until the last weekend of the season for Post 84 to reach the playoffs with a 11-7 record.
Rutland Post 31, despite finishing last in the division at 3-12, got the fourth seed since they are hosting this year’s tournament.
• On July 20, Brattleboro took a big lead early and held off a late surge by Bellows Falls to win, 8-6, at Tenney Field.
Post 37 took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single by Grady Lockerby. Post 5 took over the game from there as Alex Bingham and Aidan Davis each hit two-run singles to give the home team an 8-1 lead after four innings. Brattleboro then opened the door with three errors in the fifth and sixth innings as Bellows Falls cut the lead to 8-6 heading into the seventh.
Jackson Emery, the fourth pitcher used by Post 5 in the game, walked the first two Post 37 batters and then got three consecutive outs to pick up the save. He preserved the win for Davis, who was the starting pitcher and threw five innings.
Post 5 slugger Jack Pattison tried something different and bunted during each of four at-bats. He got on base three times and scored two runs. Zinabu McNeice and Davis each finished with a pair of hits, while Bingham drove in his third RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly. Caden Wood and Jeremy Graves each singled. Bellows Falls got two hits each from Jamison Nystrom and Jack Boyle, and McGregor Vancor and Chase Swisher each had a single.
• The next night, Post 5 was on the road to face Lakes Region and came up short, 4-3, in eight innings. The game was tied going into the eighth inning when Lakes Region’s Ryan Alt doubled and Ryan Muratorri followed with a long drive to center field for a game-winning base hit.
Alt and Emery were the respective starting pitchers and each had their difficult moments. Alt gave up a two-run double by Bingham in the first inning, and a sacrifice fly by Pattison scored Brattleboro’s third run.
With two outs and one man on in the Lake Region third, Emery issued a pair of walks to Joe Valerio and Sawyer Ramey to load bases. He then hit Alt with a pitch to force in a run, issued a bases-loaded walk to Muratorri to score another run, and gave up an RBI single by Evan Reed to tie the game at 3-3.
Emery settled down after that, and McNeice came into the game as a relief pitcher in the sixth inning and held Lakes Region scoreless until the eighth.
• Brattleboro then took a pair of games from White River Junction at Tenney Field on July 22 to clinch first place.
In the completion of a suspended game, Pattison hit an RBI double to tie the game and Caden Wood drew a walk to force in the winning run in the seventh inning to give Post 5 an 8-7 walkoff win. Bingham threw three innings of shutout relief to get the victory.
McNeice was the starting pitcher in the regularly-scheduled game, and got a complete-game victory in a 3-2 win for Post 5. He struck out four and walked no one as he scattered seven hits.
Post 5 got a run in the first inning when Pattison doubled and scored on an RBI double by Bingham. An error led to the tying run for Post 84 in the third inning, but Brattleboro got the lead in the fifth when McNeice and Turner Clews both drew walks and both scored. Bingham drove in another run with a double and Clews came home on a balk. Post 84 got a run in the sixth inning, but could get no closer as McNeice retired the side in order in the seventh to earn the victory.
• On the third try, Bellows Falls finally finished on July 22 a rain-interrupted game against Bennington Post 13 that was suspended on July 1 in the bottom of the fifth with the score tied 4-4. Post 37 finished off Bennington, 14-4.
Post 37 then got its second win of the evening with a 9-5 win in eight innings over Post 13. Due to injuries and absences, Bennington started the game with nine players, then lost catcher Nick Santiago to a hand injury in the second inning. They had to finish the game with eight players, which is permissible under Legion rules.
Bellows Falls needed a four-run eighth inning to beat their shorthanded hosts. Lockerby started the rally with a solo home run. Bennington ended its season July 24 by forfeiting both games of their scheduled doubleheader against Brattleboro.
• Post 37 finished the regular season on July 23 with a 3-1 win over White River Junction at Hadley Field. Winning pitcher Rex Hill turned in another strong performance as he held Post 84 to three hits, with five strikeouts and no earned runs.
• Brattleboro is scheduled to start the state tournament at home against Colchester, the No. 4 seed in the Northern Division on July 27, while Post 37’s season ended with a 10-8 record. The tournament finals will be played at St. Peter’s Field in Rutland from July 30 to Aug. 1.
Brattleboro 11-U team loses in state tourney
• The Brattleboro 11-year-old Little League All-Star baseball team came up short against Essex in the first game of the state tournament at Schifilliti Park in Burlington. They didn’t let it happen again.
Given a second crack at Essex in the elimination bracket of the tourney, Brattleboro took care of business with a dominating 14-0 win in four innings on July 24 to knock out their northern rivals. Brattleboro took a 11-0 lead after one inning and never let up in punching their ticket to the finals. Briar Cutting had a 3-for-4 day and winning pitcher Kason Gundry held Essex to just one hit.
The next afternoon, Brattleboro took on the Addison County All-Stars, who beat Essex, 7-6, on July 22 to advance to the finals.
Brattleboro won the game, 7-4, to force a winner-take-all game with Addison County on July 26. Winning pitcher Senji Kimura was smooth and efficient in the early going, as Brattleboro took a 2-0 lead after two innings. He ran into some trouble after that as Addison County rallied and eventually tied the game, 4-4, in the top of the fourth inning. Brattleboro came back with a run in the bottom half of the inning for a 5-4 lead, then scored twice more in the fifth inning and hung on for the victory.
Kimura had five strikeouts in his 84-pitch complete game effort. The Brattleboro hitters were patient, as they drew 11 walks that let to four runs. Logan Waite had a pair of singles and played excellent defense at second base. Center fielder Landon Zinn had the defensive gem of the game when threw out a runner at the plate to preserve Brattleboro’s lead.
While Brattleboro lost in the final game, 5-2, on July 26, the 11-U team had a great season and got some good experience for when the players moved into the 12-U division next year.
A sweet book from a sweet guy
• The disruptions to the Vermont sports calendar last year caused by COVID-19 were something of a blessing for longtime Rutland Herald sportswriter Tom Haley. It gave him a chance to finally put together a collection of stories and memories from nearly 50 years of writing about sports.
Maple Mayberrys and Other Sweet Spots (ShiresPress) recently came out, and the self-published book gives a permanent home to some great tales about Vermonters, sports, and life in general. While mostly about Vermont, his book also wanders further afield, to Maine, Texas, and North Carolina, among other places.
A native of Proctor, Tom started writing part-time for the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H., in 1973, while he was teaching social studies at Fall Mountain High School in Langdon, N.H. He abandoned teaching for full-time newspaper work in 1981 and landed at the Herald in 1986.
I’ve known Tom since 1989, when I first arrived at the Reformer. Friendly and generous, he has helped me many times over the years. He seemed to know everybody in Vermont, not to mention knowing the location of every creemee stand and roadside eatery in Vermont from Newport to Bennington.
Tom loves Vermont as only a native can and recognizes the role that high school sports plays in life of a community. A high school basketball game in Vermont, he said in an online interview earlier this year with Clayton Trutor at downthedrive.com, is “a town meeting and a church supper rolled into one. It is a chance to catch up with people in town you see no place else. It warms up the long winter nights.”
As pandemic projects go, this book is a pretty good one and worth checking out. The book is available online from Northshire Book Store in Manchester at bit.ly/623-tom-haley-book.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 13 of the spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League on July 22 at Brattleboro Bowl saw first place Team 2 ’s (45–20) lead whittled to four games, as second place Team 6 (41-24) had a 5-0 week. Team 7 remained in third place (33-32), followed by Team 5 (32-33), Team 4 (30.5-34.5), Team 3 (27-38), and Team 1 (26.5-38.5).
Josie Rigby had the women’s high handicap game (250), while Pamela Greenblott had the high handicap series (689). Peter Gilbert had the high handicap game (253) and series (672). Team 6 had the high team handicap game (834) and series (2,444).
In scratch scoring, Chuck Adams led the men with a 562 series that featured a 202 game. Robert Rigby rolled a 552 series, with a 206 game. Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 197 game as part of his 529 series.
Josie Rigby had the high scratch game (214) and series (494) to lead the women. Greenblott rolled a 175 game.