Post 26’s Comeback Not Quite Enough

Westminster, Vt. — A lazy fly ball to right field changed everything in Hartford Post 26’s 4-2 loss to Bellows Falls Post 37 in a Southern Vermont American Legion baseball contest at Hadley Field last night.

Hartford, which had not won a game since opening day, had a chance for win No. 2 when Post 26 had runners on second and third with no outs and the 2-3-4 batters in the order coming up in the seventh inning.

Jacob Perkins singled to start the inning and moved all the way to third as Andrew Cawley reached second when his ground ball to short was thrown away. Up stepped Connor Brooks, who hit a soft fly ball to medium right field. Bellows Falls’ Shawn Pinsonault, who entered the game as pinch runner in the fourth inning, made the catch and threw the ball, a floater, all the way home. Catcher Ethan Illingworth fielded the ball, turned and had plenty of time to make the tag on Brooks for a painful double play. A grounder back to the mound ended the game.

So what took Brooks so long to get home? Hartford coach Jarrod Grassi, who was coaching third, thought Brooks left third at the right time.

“And the outfielder was leaning when he made the catch and threw off the wrong foot,” Grassi said. “I was actually surprised to see the throw go home. I thought they would throw to third to keep the tying run from advancing.”

The game was a matchup of two teams trying to make something out of the season. Post 37 (3-3) has been having a hard time scoring runs. Bellows Falls didn’t hit again last night, but it did run, stealing eight bases and the Post 37 speed figured in all their runs.

“We have some speed,” said Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby, who is a bit perplexed as to why his batters take so many strikes. “We’ve got to put the ball in play.”

Both teams got solid pitching as Mike LaBeau tossed a five-hitter for Bellows Falls, while Hartford’s Dylan Terino gave up six.

Grassi thought his charges were getting to LeBeau as the game wore on. LeBeau had six strikeouts, but none after the fourth inning. Hartford then put two runners on in the fifth and two more in the sixth, then had a chance to do some damage to LeBeau when Post 26 had runners on second and third in the seventh.

“I knew he was getting tired,” Lockerby said, “but Mike is one of those kids that knows how to pitch.”

Grassi was also impressed with LeBeau, saying, “He pitched us tough.”

The Bellows Falls runs didn’t come with a lot of thump. In the first inning, Doug Avellino singled and stole second and third. The next batter, Kirk Perham, walked and he took off for second on the first pitch to LeBeau. Hartford catcher Brendan Gaudet fired just over the mound to shortstop Cam Gaudette, but the fleet-footed Avellino still made it home. BF added two more runs in the third, when LeBeau doubled home Avellino and LeBeau eventually scored from third when Carson Fullam, who had struck out, broke for first on a dropped third strike. LeBeau raced home before the relay came back.

Hartford scored two runs in the fourth without benefit of a hit, as two errors and two stolen bases figured in the runs.

Hartford has a doubleheader in Bennington tomorrow, and Bellows Falls plays two today at South Royalton.