It was nice while it lasted.
The Brattleboro Little League 12-year-old All Stars swept through the Vermont tournament without suffering a loss en route to a state championship, but they knew the degree of difficulty would be much higher in the New England Region tournament in Bristol, Conn.
They opened on Aug. 6 against a team that also swept through its state tournament undefeated, Bangor, Maine. Despite another strong pitching performance by Brattleboro's Senji Kimura, Bangor shut down the Brattleboro bats as Jacoby Harvey and Caden Karam combined on a no-hitter for a 3-0 victory.
The next day, Brattleboro was knocked out of the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Concord, N.H.
In the first game against Bangor, Harvey struck out 14 Brattleboro batters and walked three before he had to leave the game, with one out in the sixth inning, after reaching the 85-pitch limit. At that point, Brattleboro had runners at first and second. Karam then got a pair of strikeouts to earn the save and preserve the no-hitter.
Kimura allowed five hits over his 4 1/3 innings of work, with 12 strikeouts and no walks before he hit his pitch limit. Ryan Peloso finished up the fifth inning with two strikeouts. Bangor got its first run in the third inning, then got a run in the fourth and another in the fifth.
Brattleboro entered the tournament with six of its players batting .400 or better - Kimura (.667), Sebastian Garro (.538), Peloso (.500), Briar Cutting (.462), Logan Waite (.429), and Landon Zinn (.400). Despite not getting any hits against Bangor, Brattleboro drew four walks - two by Kimura and one each by Peloso and Waite.
This win, plus a 10-4 victory over Middleboro, Mass. on Aug. 8, put Bangor into the finals of the double-elimination tournament.
Brattleboro had to face Concord in a must-win game on Aug. 7. Middleboro shut out Concord, 1-0, in the other game played on Aug. 6.
Against Concord, Brattleboro again struggled to get their offense going and managed just three singles, from Peloso, Wylie Nelson, and Briar Cutting. Peloso drew a pair of walks, and Kimura also had a walk. That's was it, as Concord pitcher Will Simms struck out five batters in his 5 1/3 innings on the mound.
Peloso was Brattleboro's starting pitcher, and gave up both runs on three hits and two walks in his four innings of work. He struck out five batters. Both of Concord's runs were scored in the fourth inning. Kason Gundry pitched in the fifth inning and held Concord hitless and scoreless, with one walk and one strikeout.
Concord will face Middleboro on Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. The winner of this game will advance into the championship game on Aug. 11 at 5 p.m. The New England champion will then advance into the Little League World Series that starts Aug. 17 in Williamsport, Pa.
• Brattleboro did not commit an error in either of its games, and played the same steady and fundamentally sound baseball that led them to the Vermont title, a tribute to the hard work put in by manager Chad Gundry and coaches Tucker Leary and Brian Casey to teach those skills to the players. It just is tougher for Vermont teams when they face other teams in New England in baseball.
Concord (43,503) and Bangor (32,029) are a lot bigger than Brattleboro (12,046), and they also have bigger youth baseball programs than Brattleboro, which also has to contend with the powerhouse teams in Chittenden County every year at every level from Little League to Legion baseball in Vermont.
Brattleboro still manages to hold its own each year, and this year's 12-U team has much to be proud of. Other members of the 2022 Vermont champions include Kaden Cole, Logan Casey, Colby Robinson, Yingnyen Wangchuk, and Cooper Leary.
• Team photographers Kim Fuller Robinson and Savannah Casey did some fantastic work documenting the journey of the Brattleboro Little Leaguers. If you're not on Facebook, and want to get a sample of what they've done, there's a video on Vimeo.com that features their photos from the Vermont tournament. Check it out at vimeo.com/736965308/3c85bc0cc0.
N.H. ekes out 7-0 win in Shrine game
• If you were looking for 21st century football, with lots of passing and plenty of speed and finesse, Castleton's Dave Wolk Stadium was not the place to find it.
The 69th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl between the Vermont and New Hampshire high school all-stars was played on Aug. 6 on a brutally hot afternoon on an artificial turf field. However, with two strong defensive teams that were committed to running first and throwing only when necessary when they were on offense, the result was a 7-0 win by New Hampshire in a game that was a throwback to the good old days of football.
Vermont, coached by Craig Sleeman of BFA-Fairfax/Lamoille, ran the Wishbone offense - the run-first, pass-seldom offense made famous by Texas and Oklahoma in college football. He had the personnel to run that offense, thanks to Bellows Falls, who provided quarterback Jon Terry, running backs Jeb Lober and Jeb Monier, and offense lineman Patrick Barbour. All four will be playing college football this fall.
New Hampshire coach Chris Childs of Lebanon used the Wing-T, resulting in the Granite State throwing slightly more passes than Vermont, including one for the only touchdown of the game. With 4:20 left in the first half, quarterback Aidan Washington of Londonderry threw a 26-yard pass to 6-foot-5 tight end/running back Kevin Kolodziej of Sanborn Regional, who hauled in the ball in the back of the end zone.
It was the longest pass play of the game, and one of only seven passes by New Hampshire's offense, versus 43 rushing plays. Kolodziej finished with 58 rushing yards, while Winnacunnett's Nico Zaino had 53.
Terry and Essex's Ben Serrantonio alternated as Vermont's quarterbacks, but neither were able to get much going due to New Hampshire's strong defense. Together, they threw the ball a total of nine times.
The Green Mountain Boys looked like they had a chance to tie the game when New Hampshire fumbled the kickoff to start the third quarter and Champlain Valley's Ryan Canty recovered the ball on the New Hampshire 32. Vermont could not take advantage of the fumble, but neither could New Hampshire get another touchdown when they got the ball back.
Windsor's Ben Gilbert had the best run of the day, a 69-yard burst up the middle that put the ball on the New Hampshire 20. Again, Vermont had good field position and, again, they were stopped short. Gilbert finished as Vermont's leading rusher with 94 yards, while Lober ran for 29 yards.
New Hampshire had a chance to ice the game in the fourth quarter, but a 29-yard field goal attempt by Milford's Colin Gregg was wide of the mark, giving Vermont one last chance to tie the game with 5:15 to play.
With Terry at the controls, Lober ran for 16 yards to get a first down, then Terry completed a five-yard pass to Springfield's Sam Presch that got 15 yards tacked on with an unnecessary roughness penalty on New Hampshire. Now the ball was on the Granite State 35, with two minutes left, and Serrantonio took over at quarterback and got a clutch catch from Rutland's Slade Potemski for a first down on the 14.
But the clock was not on Vermont's side and after a three-yard run by Lober and two incomplete passes, it was fourth-and-seven on the 11 with 23 seconds to play. Again, Serrantonio looked to Potemski for the big play, and they almost pulled it off. Potemski caught the ball on the left sideline, but immediately got it punched out of his hands by defender Justin DeCarlo. That ended Vermont's hopes of forcing overtime and clinched another win for the Granite State.
Brattleboro's representatives in the Shrine game - defensive back Aaron Petrie and defensive lineman Tyler McNary - saw plenty of action and contributed to the stout Vermont defense. Mount Anthony's Hayden Gaudette led Vermont with seven tackles.
It was the third win in a row for New Hampshire, and their 50th win overall in the series.
Fossils finish first in CRVBL
• The Putney Fossils finished in first place in regular season play in the Connecticut River Valley Baseball League (CRVBL). The Fossils defeated the Connecticut River Iron Men, 9-2, on July 31 at Gouin Field in Dummerston to clinch the top spot. With the win, the defending CRVBL champs matched their 2021 regular-season record of 11-1 and head into the playoffs as the top seed.
The Iron Men earned the No. 2 seed in the CRVBL playoffs, while Walpole Granite is the No. 3 seed. The fourth team in this year's edition of CRVBL, Mount Monadnock, had to forfeit their remaining games and are not eligible for the playoffs. The Fossils won the league championship last year.
This season's single-elimination playoffs will take place on Sunday, Aug. 14 at Gouin Field. The Iron Men will host the Granite in a “play-in” game at 10 a.m. The winner of that game will play the Fossils at 1:30 p.m. for the Bissell Cup, named in honor of league founder Richard W. Bissell.
“We wrapped up the regular season on a great note,” Fossils player/manager Danny Lichtenfeld said in a news release. “Solid pitching, excellent defense, and timely hitting - let's hope we can do it again [in the playoffs].”
For more information about the 2022 season, including game results and player statistics, visit crvbl.com.
Youth Services' golf tourney raises more than $15,000
• Youth Services' 37th annual Golf Tournament on July 27 was a rousing success, raising more than $15,000 to help underwrite the agency's programs. The tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club, presented by G.S. Precision and NorthStar on July 27, brought out 106 local golfers.
The Brattleboro Country Club team of Kirk Nims, Paul Jones, Zach Evans, and Dave Evans won First Gross, with the Holiday Inn Express team of Frank LeGrande, Kalee Schriner, and Marty Griffin winning First Net.
The G.S. Precision team of Kurt Kwader, Scott Jones, Joe Sprague, and Matt Sampson took Second Gross, with The Richards Group team of Cathy Coonan, Rick Manson, Bill Pettengill, and Dave Anderson taking Second Net.
Terry Boyce won the prize for the Women's Longest Drive. Mary Anne Levins won the prize for Women's Closest to the Pin. In the Men's Division, Adam Palmiter took the prize for Men's Longest Drive. Greg Goodrich took Men's Closest to the Line with Dan Blake winning Men's Closest to Pin.
Youth Services' Executive Director Russell Bradbury-Carlin and former board member Timm Harris ran a Putting Contest, won by Cathy Coonan, which raised $248.
The Helicopter Golf Ball Drop took place for the 10th year, thanks to the Renaud Bros, Inc. helicopter, piloted by Mike Renaud. All 100 balls were sold this year, a record, according to organizers, who credit Karen Bergstrom of Belle Notte, who sold 31 balls to patrons of the Bella Notte bar.
A bucket of golf balls was dropped from 20 feet on the fairway at the Brattleboro Country Club. The winner of the $3,000 cash prize was Tami Purcell of Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country, with ball #52 landing 23.5 inches from the hole.
For more information, or to get involved in Youth Services, call 802-257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 10 of the Brattleboro Senior Summer Bowling League on Aug. 4 at Brattleboro Bowl saw Angus & Company (31-19) have a 4-1 week to move into first place. Good Times (30-20) had a 1-4 week to fall into second place, followed by The Strikers (29-21), the Number 1's (26-22), The Keglers (26-24), and The Anythings (21-29), Stayin' Alive (20-30), and Trash-O-Matic (15-35).
Diane Cooke had the women's high handicap game (234) and series (646), while Jerry Dunham had the men's high handicap game (282) and series (743). The Strikers again had the high team handicap game (895) and the Number 1's had the high team handicap series (2,503).
In scratch scoring, Steve Cousineau led the men with a 726 series that featured games of 275, 257, and 194. Dunham had a 641 series with games of 248, 203, and 190. Chuck Adams had a 594 series with games of 203, 201, and 190, while Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 579 series that featured a 193 game, and Robert Rigby had a 542 series that featured a 203 game.
Nancy Dalzell had the women's high scratch series (456), while Josie Rigby had the high scratch game (166). Both Dalzell and Carol Gloski had 162 games.