Brattleboro, BF clinch spots in state Legion tourney
Bellows Falls starting pitcher Chris Armstrong threw five scoreless innings to lead Post 37 to a 6-2 win over Brattleboro on Sunday.

Brattleboro, BF clinch spots in state Legion tourney

The American Legion Baseball regular season has wrapped up, with Rutland Post 31 clinching first place in the Southern Division and Brattleboro Post 5 in second place.

Lake Region finished strong to clinch third, and Bellows Falls Post 37 nosed out Hartford Post 26 on the final weekend of the season for the remaining spot.

The top four teams in the Northern and Southern divisions advance to the state tournament, which begins July 24 at Castleton State College and at St. Peter's Field in Rutland.

Post 37 lost its chance to control its playoff destiny by losing to Rutland, 3-0, on July 16, and getting swept by Hartford in a doubleheader the next day. It lost the first game, 2-1, and the nightcap, 2-0.

Going into its final game of the regular season against Brattleboro at Tenney Field on Sunday, the math for Post 37 was simple: they needed beat Post 5 and while Hartford needed to win three of its last four games. including a doubleheader with Rutland.

Post 37 helped its cause by beating Post 5, 6-2.

Post 37's Chris Armstrong and Post 5's Kevin Tao were locked in a pitchers' duel for the first five innings. Armstrong allowed a hit and two walks over that span, while Tao only allowed one run in the fifth - when Troy Tracy reached on an error and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Tao walked one batter and gave up two hits in the first five.

After Bellows Falls got another run in the sixth off a Carson Fullam bunt, coach Bob Lockerby brought out his ace, Mike Labeau, to close.

Post 5 cut the lead in half in that inning when Chris Lasch walked - eventually scoring on a throwing error. But Post 37 didn't panic; it broke open the game with a three-run fourth. Ed Shambo drew a walk, and Kyle White was hit by a pitch. Both scored on a two-out, two-run double by Austin Stack.

Ethan Illingworth followed with an RBI single for a 5-1 lead that chased Tao. Leif Bigelow came in to finish up for Post 5. Bigelow, who's done double duty this summer playing both Babe Ruth and Legion ball, held Post 37 to one run over two innings.

Bigelow, though, ran out of gas with two outs in the ninth and gave up an RBI single to Fullam. Brattleboro's Gene Buckley, in the final home game of his career, came in to strike out Brady Illingworth and end the inning.

Labeau made quick work of Brattleboro in the seventh and eighth innings, but labored through the ninth where Brattleboro got its second run on an RBI single by Rob Heilman.

As for using Labeau to get the save, Post 37 coach Bob Lockerby said he didn't want to take any chances. “We badly needed to win this game, and we did everything we could to be in a position to win it. Chris pitched a great game. He's only given up two earned runs all summer. He doesn't get a lot of strikeouts, but he doesn't walk many either. And I wanted to have Mike ready if we needed him.”

Brattleboro beat Hartford, 13-5, on Saturday morning, and lost later that day to Lake Region, 8-5. Post 5 had already clinched second place heading into the weekend, and coach Wayne Wright said while it would've been good to sweep the weekend, that wasn't vital to their postseason plans.

“We had a lot of guys missing, so we had to do a little shuffling of the lineup,” he said. “We wanted to beat BF, but once it got out of hand we tried to get everyone in. Especially Gene. I wanted to get him in for his last game.”

Babe Ruth roundup

• The Brattleboro 13-year-old All-Stars fell short in the state Babe Ruth tourney at the Collins Perley Complex in St. Albans.

In the first game, Brattleboro rallied to Suburban, 9-8. Brattleboro fell behind 8-0 in the first two innings, but Kyle Murray came on to pitch five innings of shutout relief - and the offense began to chip away at the lead.

Brattleboro scored three runs in both the third and fourth innings, and two more in the sixth, to pull even at 8-8.

In the seventh, a single by Murray and walks to Bret Worden and Joe Rafus loaded the bases. With two outs, Emmanuel Keppel drove home the game-winning run. Logan Morton went 3-for-3 with a double and a triple and Jeremy Rounds scored three runs.

In Game 2, Franklin County beat up Brattleboro, 14-4. Joe Rafus and Hunter Beebe pitched well in relief for Brattleboro. Jack Price singled and doubled, and Evan Finnell chipped in with a bunt.

Brattleboro was knocked out of the tournament last Friday with a 16-6 loss to Orleans County in Game 3.

• The Brattleboro 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star baseball team will play in the New England Regionals July 25-31 in Westfield, Mass., having taken the state championship July 11-13 in Dummerston.

Brattleboro opened with an 11-1 victory over St. Johnsbury in a five-inning game cut short by the 10-run mercy rule. Leif Bigelow threw a no-hitter, with 10 strikeouts, to get the win. Tyler Germain went 3-for-3 with four RBIs to lead the offense.

Brattleboro then beat Franklin County, 11-1, in another five-inning affair. Ian Fulton-Black picked up the win, and Korie Cliche went 2-for-2 with three RBIs.

Franklin County came back to beat Brattleboro, 15-2, to force a third - and deciding - game with Franklin County for the championship of the double-elimination tournament.

Though Brattleboro left the bases loaded four times in the loss, they made the most of the chances that they got in the title game and went on to win, 6-4. At the top of the sixth Brattleboro's Dan Petrie hit a two-out, two-run single to win the game.

Tony Martinez went 3-for-4 and stole two bases, and Bigelow ended up as the winning pitcher.

The state champs are coached by Andrew Cavanagh, Luke Freed, and CJ Parker. Also on the team are Ben Nelson-Betz, Tommy Carroll, Kameron Pelkey, Tanner Bell, Matt Cutter, Bridger Grout, and Jack Trudeau.

Local girls first at state Hershey Track Meet

• The Brattleboro Rec Track and Field Team competed in the Vermont State Hershey Track Meet in Essex on July 12, and the girls team placed first in the state with 117 points.

Michael and Jennifer Lonardo took over as head coaches at the end of last year's season, and they say that the kids have been practicing three nights a week since June.

The result: each earned a personal best at the meet. They, along with the rec department staff and a handful of volunteers, have groomed this team from a handful of kids playing games to a force to be reckoned with.

The athletes who placed:

• Nev Beauchamp Eighth in 13-14-year-old 800 meter run; fifth in softball throw.

• Kharisma Boyd First in 13-14-year-old standing long jump; third in 100 and 200 meter dash.

• Delaney Bullock First in 15-year-old 800 and 1,600 meter run, standing long jump.

• Gracie Frost Seventh in 13-14-year-old 100 meter; second in softball throw.

• Carley Lonardo First in 7-8-year-old standing long jump.

• Margaret Lonardo First in 13-14-year-old 100 and 200 meters; fourth in standing long jump.

• Olivia Romo Sixth in 11-12-year-old 400 meters; eighth in 800 meters; second in standing long jump.

• Willow Romo Seventh in 9-10 year-old 400 meters; eighth in softball throw.

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