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A Big Happy Family: Hartford Post 26 Baseball Keeps Everything Close to Home

  • Hartford Post 26’s Jacob Perkins swings at a high pitch during the team’s win over Bellows Falls last night in White River Junction. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Hartford Post 26’s Jacob Perkins swings at a high pitch during the team’s win over Bellows Falls last night in White River Junction. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bellows Falls Post 37’s Austin Stack makes a late attempt to tag Hartford Post 26’s Cody Smith at second base during their game in White River Junction yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Bellows Falls Post 37’s Austin Stack makes a late attempt to tag Hartford Post 26’s Cody Smith at second base during their game in White River Junction yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hartford Post 26’s Jacob Perkins swings at a high pitch during the team’s win over Bellows Falls last night in White River Junction. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Bellows Falls Post 37’s Austin Stack makes a late attempt to tag Hartford Post 26’s Cody Smith at second base during their game in White River Junction yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

White River Junction — It looks like there will be new approach to American Legion baseball this summer in Hartford.

In past seasons, Hartford has struggled for sponsorship and a full roster, but this year’s team has solid sponsorship from Post 26, new uniforms and last night had a roster of 16 to use during its season-opening 12-9 win over Bellows Falls.

“In the past we used to go about Legion baseball as a means of improving our high school team,” said coach Jarrod Grassi, who mentors both the Legion and Hartford High teams. “But we’ve got a team that can compete this year. I think we’re going to win some games.”

Of the 16 players on the roster, 13 are Hartford kids. And there is togetherness and youth.

“Our last pitcher, Dylan Spencer, just graduated from the eighth grade,” said Grassi, who had a hard time not smiling. “I am happy. This team has good chemistry and I think it will gel.”

Hartford’s approach to Legion baseball is different than that of Bellows Falls. Post 37 brought 15 players to the game from nine schools. Post 26 had one player apiece from Woodstock, Thetford and Hanover, while the Bellows Falls roster was outfitted by players from the following high schools: Windsor, South Royalton, Woodstock, Leland & Gray, Vermont Academy, Black River, Springfield, Green Mountain Union and Bellows Falls.

Hartford won this game because the players hit the ball hard and Bellows Falls simply could not put a glove on a lot of the shots, and many of those that were gloved were dropped. Ten Hartford runs were unearned.

“I didn’t expect to see this,” said long-time Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby. “I thought we had a pretty good defensive team.”

While the defense was porous, Lockerby took a lot of the blame for the loss for leaving starting pitcher Tim Rumrill in the game much too long.

“I apologized to Tim for doing that,” Lockerby said.

Rumrill started the third inning with a 2-1 lead, but the wheels came off as Hartford sent 15 batters to the plate. After getting two outs, Rumrill tried desperately to get the third one, but eight straight Hartford batters reached and the game was pretty much decided right there. Post 26 scored 10 times on eight hits during the frame. Rumrill was not relieved until he had thrown 35 pitches in the inning.

Hartford used three pitchers starting, with Dylan Terino, who was followed by Justin Devoid and Spencer. Terino did the bulk of the work, going the first five innings.

During the 10-run third, Andrew Cawley, Cody Smith and Devoid each had two hits and Josh Phipps, batting in the No. 9 slot, had a two-run single. And Smith drove in three runs with his two hits, one a double.

Bellows Falls got a long two-run homer from Mike Labeau in the fifth and, in the seventh, made things a bit antsy for Post 26 when it scored three times and had the bases loaded when the game ended.

“That wasn’t the kind of ending I was hoping for, but this is a good team,” said Grassi. “We’ve got some players here. We’re in it to win it.”

It was the second game for Bellows Falls, which downed Brattleboro Wednesday night, 10-9.