Post 22 Gets Walk Off Win
Robinson’s Single Gives Lebanon Victory in Tourney Opener
Lebanon Post 22's Cameron Broughton leaps at Derry Post 9's Joseph Leo Murphy to make the out after Murphy found himself in a pickle between second and third base during the American Legion tournament game in Nashua, N.H., on July 24, 2014. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Lebanon Post 22 celebrates their victory over Derry Post 9 following their American Legion tournament game in Nashua, N.H., on July 24, 2014. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Nashua — Two wrongs might not make a right, but sometimes two wrongs can lead to a right.
Just ask Lebanon Post 22’s Ben Robinson.
After fouling off not one, but two, bases-loaded squeeze bunt attempts in the bottom of the ninth inning of Post 22’s New Hampshire State American Legion Tournament opener with Derry Post 9 on Thursday morning at Holman Stadium, the left-handed hitting Robinson coolly stroked a single to right to deliver his team a white-knuckle, walk off 1-0 win.
“To be honest, I was looking for a fastball in that situation,” Robinson, a junior to be at Sunapee High School, said of the 2-2 pitch. “And when I saw it, I tried to jump on it.”
Robinson’s game winner plated Chase Hussey, who had led off the ninth with a seemingly routine grounder to third, but ended up standing on second after Post 9 third baseman Austin Hall’s throw sailed high.
Caleb Broughton followed Hussey with a bunt single and Noah Skarin added an infield hit to load the bases — neither ball making it past the pitcher’s mound. After hard-luck Derry starter Chace Spears (8.1 innings, six hits, five strikeouts, one walk) struck out Ben Bates swinging for the first out of the inning, Robinson stepped up and delivered — eventually.
“After Benny didn’t get it down in two squeeze attempts, I thought, ‘Oh boy, I am not liking this,’ ” Post 22 coach Rob Woodward said. “But then he got back in there, dug in, and delivered the big hit when it counted most.”
Post 22’s Hussey earned the win on the mound after entering in the top of the ninth in relief of starter Bates. He faced the minimum three batters, though not necessarily in traditional fashion.
Derry’s ninth inning started almost exactly as Post 22’s final at-bat eventually would — with a grounder to third that was thrown away. But the key difference was that Post 9’s Kyle Albertelli was erased at second while trying to advance on the play. Hussey induced a grounder to short and a lazy fly to right from the next two batters, setting the stage for Lebanon’s ninth inning dramatics.
Lebanon, which entered the tournament as the “A” Division’s top seed with a 14-4 mark, rode a gutsy eight-inning pitching performance from Bates to stay in the game against Derry’s impressively efficient Spears, who faced only 23 batters through the first seven innings.
Bates allowed six hits, struck out seven, walked three and hit a batter, and most importantly, stranded 10 Post 9 batters along the way.
Bates was at his determined best in the top of the eighth inning, when Derry’s Jamie Collins (single) and Chris Gerassi (double) opened with back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third with nobody out, prompting a visit from Woodward to the mound.
“He’d been laboring a bit,” Woodward said of his starting right-hander. “He couldn’t quite hit his mechanics — he was in, he was out. I said, “Listen, get this one guy, and I’m going to pull you.’ ” When Bates did get that “one guy,” however, striking out Spears swinging, Woodward stayed right where he was. In the dugout.
“He looked over at me and I said, “Have fun,’ ” the coach explained. “I knew he was going to empty the tank, and he did.”
And seemingly Post 9’s tank, too, as Bates struck out both Pat Mahoney and Ben Curry to squash the threat.
“When (Woodward) came out, he basically just told me to settle down, to throw strikes,” Bates said. “Once I got that first one, the momentum got going in the right direction again, and I knew I could do it.”
Robinson’s heroics at the plate helped Lebanon avoid paying dearly for what might have been some very costly base-running mistakes earlier in the game, particularly with the way Spears was throwing.
In the third inning, Post 22’s Jordy Levin reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a passed ball, only to be wiped out at third when trying to advance on a two-hop ground ball to short. And in the seventh Robinson smacked a one-out double down the right field line, but was promptly picked off second.
“We ran into trouble on the bases a couple of times,” Woodward said. “Twice we could have taken control of the game, and twice we made mistakes that took away potential runs. Those are things we work on all year — and things we can’t afford to do again.”
Derry had its own share of frustrations on the bases. Post 9 loaded the bases in the first, before Bates induced Spears into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play; and in the top of the fifth, with two outs and runners on first and second, Collins grounded a single to left that seemed certain to plate the game’s first run, particularly with the runners moving on contact.
Post 22 left fielder Robinson had other ideas, however, as he aggressively charged the ball, scooped it in stride and unleashed a bullet to catcher Tanner Simms that nailed Post 9’s Hall by a good three strides.
“At that point in the game neither team was really hitting, so I know it could be a crucial moment as far as momentum goes,” Robinson said. “Luckily I was able to get to it pretty shallow, so I knew I had a good chance.”
Caleb Broughton and Robinson each finished with two hits for Post 22, with Skarin and Andrew Houde accounting for Lebanon’s other hits. Post 22 plays today at 4 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s game between “A” Division No. 3 seed Concord and “B” Division No. 2 Dover.
Derry (10-9), the “B” Division’s No. 4 team, returns to action this morning at 9 a.m., a fate Lebanon’s Woodward was happy to avoid.
“We’d have been loading up the bus at 4:30 in the morning,” the coach said. “Believe me, I’m not too upset about avoiding that.”