Hey, Right Back at Ya: Avenging Season-Ending Defeat, Lebanon Post 22 Ousts Plymouth
Concord — The Lebanon Post 22 American Legion baseball team lived to snack again Sunday, downing division rival Plymouth Post 66, 5-1, in the junior state tournament at Memorial Field.
The Upper Valley representatives exploded for five runs during the fourth inning, then held on through a tense seventh to advance to face either Nashua or Concord at 4 p.m. today.
Although turning right out of the stadium parking lot leads drivers back to Interstate 89, the Lebanon bus swung left and headed for a nearby sports bar and grill known for its Buffalo-style chicken wings. The establishment has become the team’s celebration point of choice after winning two of its first three tournament games. Post 22 narrowly lost Saturday to Nashua, which improved to 16-1 with the triumph.
“We played (Nashua) tough, but I felt we were as good of a team as they were, if not better,” said Lebanon coach Dustin Broughton, whose team is 13-5. “It’s tough to come back from a loss, but our guys were pumped up today from the first pitch.”
Chris Alberigi, a rising sophomore and recent Cardigan Mountain School graduate, tossed a three-hitter, striking out six batters, walking three and hitting one. The 5-foot-8, 145-pound righthander didn’t overpower opposing sluggers, but his location and control were sharp. The Norwich resident is soon headed to Connecticut’s Kent School and had seen only relief action for Post 22 before Sunday.
“I was kind of rusty,’’ Alberigi said. “The last inning, I was just tired and I could not get my curveball on target. I wasn’t following through, and the ball was going high.”
Broughton said Alberigi was limited by back problems earlier in the season, but showed his mettle as a reliever upon recovery.
“He threw strikes every time he came in, and we’ve had trouble throwing strikes in this tournament,” Broughton said. “He came right out and challenged the hitters. After we scored our five runs, he came back out and struck out the first batter. It was awesome, and it set the tone.”
Lebanon’s leadoff man was retired in the fourth, but Ben Robinson followed with a single, Bryar Rouillard and Levy Byrd drew walks and Plymouth’s third baseman couldn’t handle a Caleb Broughton smash, which brought in the game’s first run. Cam Broughton and Chase Hussey followed with two-run singles before Post’s 22 at-bat ended.
Plymouth, which knocked off visiting Lebanon during the teams’ regular-season finale to win the division title, led off the seventh with a triple. The runner scored when the relay throw from the outfield skipped past the hot corner. Two more runners then reached base, causing the Lebanon coach to warm up reliever Rouillard.
“It was Chris’ game to win, but I went out and talked to him,” Dustin Broughton said. “He said he was good, so I left him in.”
Lebanon backers inhaled through clenched teeth a few moments later, when one of Alberigi’s pitches was belted over first base. Right fielder Robinson retreated and stabbed his glove up and out just as the line drive shot over his head. The snap of leather and Robinson’s quick throw back to the infield squelched potential disaster.
“I didn’t think I had a chance of getting that; it was hit really well, and I was pretty nervous,” Robinson said. “The game was on the line, and a lot of momentum was in their hands. I was thrilled when I got it.”
Robinson and Post 22 were even happier when the next batter flew out easily to him, ending the game. Lebanon won two of the team’s three meetings this season, the first triumph coming in extra innings.
“We’ve got a little rivalry going with them, and it was nice to get revenge,” Robinson said. “We were more focused today, because we knew if we lost, we were done for the season.”
On a down note, two Lebanon runners were cut down on the basepaths. Byrd got a late jump trying to nab second and was easily thrown out, and Cam Broughton was snared in a rundown after leading off first.
“The pickoffs were very frustrating,” Dustin Broughton said. “I had the steal sign on for the first one, but the second one, there’s no excuse for that. We don’t see a lot of lefties, and trying to run on them means you have to read them carefully and gain some experience.”
Hussey finished with two hits and Robinson, Rouillard, Byrd, Brady Bates, Sam Hastings and Caleb Broughton each had one.
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.