The Brattleboro Little League All-Stars were this year’s host of the state tournament, so they got to avoid what teams from southern Vermont often face — long and multiple rides to games in northern Vermont.
But the home cooking wasn’t quite enough, as Brattleboro lost in the championship game to South Burlington, 10-1, on Tuesday night.
Brattleboro, which advanced into the state tournament by winning a best-of-seven series with Bennington, 4-1, to win the District 2 title, got things going in Saturday’s opening game as they defeated Essex, 9-5.
“It’s all about pitching in Little League and we have three really good pitchers,” said Brattleboro manager Dave Heileman. “We got good pitching from Ian (Fulton-Black), Danny (Petrie) and Leif (Bigelow). All three of them did a good job.”
The three combined for 12 strikeouts and no walks. Fulton-Black started the game and had Essex shut down until he tired in the third inning and gave up back-to-back home runs by Tyler Roberge and Brandon Charles. But Petrie and Bigelow would pitch a combined 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief to end Essex’s comeback hopes.
At the plate, Tanner Bell hit a RBI double to give Brattleboro a 1-0 lead in the first. After Essex tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, Brattleboro erupted for six runs in the third inning. Fulton-Black hit a two-run double off the centerfield wall, and Petrie hit a two-run homer to right to make it 7-1. Tom Carroll, Devin Millerick and Connor Weeks all had one hit each in the game for Brattleboro.
After the four-run Essex rally in the bottom half of the inning cut Brattleboro’s lead down to 7-5, the hosts needed some insurance runs. Brattleboro got them in the top of the sixth, when Bigelow hit a line drive to center that looked like it cleared the wall for a two-run homer.
Or, at least, that’s how the umpires called it.
But after Petrie, who led off with a walk, and Bigelow crossed home plate as their teammates celebrated, the Essex outfielder pulled the ball out from behind the Merrill Gas sign and said the ball got stuck in the fence. After a long argument with the Essex coaching staff, who believed that the play should’ve been ruled a ground rule double and that Petrie and Bigelow should return to third and second base, respectfully, the umpires ruled that the home run would stand.
That would be enough heroics for one player, but then Bigelow came in to pitch a 1-2-3 sixth to nail down the victory. He got the game ball and was mobbed by his friends and family after the game.
The magic didn’t carry over into Sunday’s game, however. South Burlington, which crushed Barre 22-0 in Saturday’s other game, defeated Brattleboro, 5-4. Eamon Sheridan hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the fifth inning, and teammate Sammy Premsagar scored the winning run on a dropped third strike in the sixth inning. It overshadowed a good pitching performance by Bigelow, who allowed only two earned runs in holding South Burlington to seven hits.
The loss dropped Brattleboro into the elimination bracket, and they faced having to beat Essex on Monday night, then beat South Burlington twice to claim the state title.
Brattleboro completed the first part of this task by knocking out Essex with a dramatic 7-5 victory. Petrie provided the winning margin with a two-run single in the top of the sixth.
Essex, which knocked out Barre, 11-3, on Sunday to earn the rematch with Brattleboro, fell behind early. Weeks drove in a pair of runs, Fulton-Black had a RBI single, and Bigelow drove in another run with a sacrifice fly for a 5-0 lead.
But Roberge and Charles tied the game for Essex. Roberge slammed a three-run homer in the third and Charles hit a two-run homer in the fifth to make it a 5-5 game before Petrie’s heroics in the sixth. Petrie was the winning pitcher, with three strikeouts in a complete-game nine-hitter.
The win set up the championship game with South Burlington, and while the Brattleboro All-Stars didn’t win, they put in a strong effort in this tournament. South Burlington will now represent Vermont in the New England Little League Regional Tournament to be played in Bristol, Conn., starting Aug. 3.
Other members of the Brattleboro All-Stars were Tony Martinez, Tyler Germain, Adam Curtis, Korie Cliche, and Griffin Lynde.
Lights go on at Hadley Field
• A new era of night baseball began last Thursday at Bellows Falls Union High School in Westminster as American Legion Post 37 played its first-ever game at Hadley Field under the lights.
The lights are courtesy of Alvin Southwick, a Westminster resident who died last year at the age of 85. Southwick, a Navy veteran who served during World War II and the Korean War, was also the assistant manager of the Post 37 baseball team for more than 25 years. His close friend, Frederick Yates of Bellows Falls, said it was Southwick’s longtime desire to see lights installed at Hadley Field and left a sizable sum of money in his estate to accomplish that.
Yates hosted the dedication ceremony, which featured the Post 37 color guard, the singing of the National Anthem by BFUHS chorus director Mary Westbrook, and the presentation of a $185,000 check to Post 37 and BFUHS to pay for the light project.
In addition to the lights on the field, a new flag pole was installed at center field and a memorial was placed below the scoreboard that reads “The Al Southwick Lighted Athletic Complex at Hadley Field.” Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Even though Post 37 lost Thursday’s game to Hartford Post 26, 4-2, this night was still a great moment for baseball in Bellows Falls, and a great tribute to the generosity of Al Southwick.
Post 5 wraps up regular season
• Brattleboro Post 5 ended the American Legion baseball regular season with a doubleheader sweep of Hartford on Sunday at Tenney Field. In the first game, Brattleboro had 12 hits as they won, 9-2. Winning pitcher Sawyer Olson threw a four-hitter with six strikeouts, and helped his own cause by going 3-for-4. Kevin Tao went 2-for-2; and Jamie Martell went 3-for-4.
The second game got stopped by the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth inning as Brattleboro won, 14-4. Gerard Roberge scored the team’s first two runs; Tao went 2-for-2, and Chris McAuliffe went 2-for-2 with two doubles.
Brattleboro is among the four teams that advanced to the state tournament which takes place July 26-30 at St. Peter’s Field in Rutland and Castleton State College. Bennington clinched the top spot in the Southern Division, followed by Rutland at No. 2, Brattleboro at No. 3 and Lakes Region at No. 4. The Northern Division’s representatives, in order of finish, are Colchester, Addison County, Essex, and South Burlington.
Post 5 will take on Addison County in a first round game on Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Peter’s Field. In the second round on Friday, Brattleboro will play at 1 p.m. — at St. Peters if they lose on Thursday, or at Castleton State if they win on Thursday.
Tri for Hope comes to Mount Snow
• For the fourth straight year, Mount Snow in West Dover will host a sprint distance triathlon — a quarter-mile swim in Snow Lake, 12-mile bike ride up and down Handle Road, and a 3.1 mile run on the resort’s trails.
However, this year’s event, which is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, will be special because it will be run as a benefit for the Relay for Life of Windham County, an annual event that celebrates cancer survivors, remembers those lost to the disease, and raises money for research, public education, and programs and services that help ease the burden for cancer patients and their loved ones.
The registration fee for the Tri for Hope event is $125, and all proceeds will go to Relay for Life. Teams of three people may also compete in this event, and Mount Snow will offer a 2012-13 season pass to the event’s top fundraiser. Visit www.triforhope.com for more details.
Retreat hosts golf tournament
• The Brattleboro Retreat will host its seventh annual golf tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club on Wednesday, August 1. All proceeds will help support therapeutic recreational activities for children at the Retreat.
Over the years, the Retreat Golf Tournament has earned a reputation for providing a fun day for all. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m., with a shotgun start at noon. A bag lunch will be provided; dinner is at 5:30 p.m.
Awards, raffles and an auction start during dinner around 6 p.m. Each golfer will have a chance to win a new 2012 Subaru Impreza. Other contests include closest to the pin, longest drive, straightest drive, 50/50 putting contest, and more.
The award, raffle and auction prizes will include dozens of items including a picnic lunch for four atop the Brattleboro Retreat Tower, Red Sox tickets, restaurant gift certificates, golf gear and clothing along with a number of other items. All participants will receive a complimentary canvas beach bag.
Registration is $130 for all golfers. 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.For sponsorship and registration forms, or for more information, contact Biz Dana at 802-258-4318, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.brattlebororetreat.org/golf.