South Royalton Post 51 Holds Off Bellows Falls

Westminster, Vt. — Last weekend, South Royalton took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning of a game with Lakes Region and when the inning was over, Post 51 was a 4-2 loser. And it looked for a while South Royalton was setting itself for another tough loss in its Southern Vermont American Legion game at Bellows Falls Post 37 on Thursday night, but Post 51 held on to win, 2-1.

South Royalton was leading Bellows Falls 2-0 in the sixth when Bellows Falls loaded the bases with nobody out. Post 51 hurler Jacob Sprague then got a huge strikeout when he fanned BF cleanup hitter Kirk Perham.

What happened next was perhaps the biggest play of the game. Tim Rumrill hit a routine fly ball to right field caught by Alex Berk. Post 37’s Austin Stack, who was on third, broke for home and Doug Avellino, who was on second, took off for third. Berk fired to the cutoff man, first baseman Zack LaPerle, who threw to third to nail Avellinio before Stack crossed the plate.

The Bellows Falls bench contended that Stack had scored before the out at third was recorded, but that battle was lost.

“I was watching both runners and their runner was three feet from home when the out was made at third,” South Royalton coach Mike Ballou said.

“Everybody did what they were supposed to do on that play,” Ballou said of the play that got Avellino at third.

“The right fielder hit the cutoff man like he was supposed to and our first baseman made a good throw to third.”

Things got sticky again in the BF seventh when Post 37 put runners on first and third with one out. Ballou yelled out to let the run score and get the runner at second if the runner on first tries to take off. And take off Brighton Birschofberger did, getting thrown out by catcher Ron Caswell as Carson Fullam scored to make it a 2-1 game, but that’s the way the game ended.

The game was crucial as both teams are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in the standings, South Royalton now 4-5 and Bellows Falls falling to 3-7.

Ballou said he was not looking at the standings as much as he wanted his kids to have some fun and win some ball games if they could.

Although Sprague gave him some anxious moments late in the game of his 94-pitch performance, Ballou was not surprised that Sprague hung in there for the win.

“After all, he pitched Randolph to the state championship,” said Ballou.

Bellows Falls has three games with top-seeded Bennington this weekend, starting with a makeup game tonight and a doubleheader in Bennington on Saturday. Post 37, which had trouble scoring runs during the high school season, is continuing to have offensive woes this summer even though the roster features players from nine high schools.

“I think we have guys here who can hit, but they just have to start hitting,” said BF coach Bob Lockerby, “Sometimes when you get some runs, it makes some mistakes you make on defense.”

Like in the third inning, when South Royalton scored both its runs, there was a dropped fly ball that opened the door for two unearned runs.

South Royalton also plays tonight, going to Brattleboro.