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Lebanon Piles on The Runs, and Yuks

Tanner Simms of Lebanon's junior American Legion Post 22 baseball team slides into home Friday as Hudson catcher Kyle Manning reaches to tag him. Simms was called out, but Lebanon won, 7-2, in the opening round of the state tournament at Concord's Memorial Field. Post 22 advanced to a second round game Saturday at the same location. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Tanner Simms of Lebanon's junior American Legion Post 22 baseball team slides into home Friday as Hudson catcher Kyle Manning reaches to tag him. Simms was called out, but Lebanon won, 7-2, in the opening round of the state tournament at Concord's Memorial Field. Post 22 advanced to a second round game Saturday at the same location. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

Concord — Midway through Friday’s Lebanon junior American Legion baseball game, bat boy Parker Broughton, who stands about three feet high, lifted a tube of gooey, brown pine tar up toward assistant coach Pat Cilbrith and asked him what it was.

“That’s lipstick for a beaver,” Cilbrith said with a straight face, while bystanders began chuckling.

Post 22 had time and room for lighthearted banter at Memorial Field, scoring five runs in the first inning en route to a 7-2 romp in the state tournament’s opening round. Pitcher Josh Weiss struggled at times, but never quite enough to be lifted, while Chase Hussey, Ben Robinson and Levy Byrd each had two of Lebanon’s eight hits. Post 22 plays at 4 p.m. today against the winner of Friday’s clash between Nashua (14-1) and Rochester (11-4).

“We stayed at a hotel down here last night, and when I went around at 7:30 this morning to get the guys up, they were all already up and half of them were dressed,” said coach Dustin Broughton, whose team is making the second consecutive tournament appearance in its three-year history. “They were fired up even at infield practice and pumped up from the first pitch.”

That was good news to Broughton, who was unhappy with the way his squad dragged through a road loss to Plymouth during its regular-season finale. That setback left Lebanon (12-4) second in its division and lined it up against Hudson (13-4) for the teams’ 10 a.m. tournament opener.

“It concerned me a lot because we weren’t excited and our morale wasn’t good,” Broughton said. “But we got confidence from those five early runs.”

Weiss, an Enfield resident and a rising senior at Kimball Union Academy, gave up a pair of late tallies, but worked out of a bases-loaded jam during the first inning and stranded nine runners. The righthander had Broughton muttering to himself in the dugout at times, but gutted out a complete game to leave Lebanon with a passel of fresh arms for upcoming action. Hussey, Robinson, Byrd, Cam Broughton and Bryar Rouillard also pitched for Lebanon.

“I really wanted to buckle down and throw strikes because losing our momentum could have been a game-changer,” said Weiss, who allowed six hits while striking out six batters and walking five.

“My off-speed pitches weren’t working in the first inning, but it’s all muscle memory and so once I got warmed up and in a rhythm, everything just flowed.”

Said Broughton: “He threw way too many walks today and put a lot of stress on me, but he always got out of it and we made all the plays behind him.”

Weiss is hoping to attend and play baseball either at Brandeis University or Endicott University, both in Massachusetts. This summer, he started five games for the Post 22 junior team and performed in five relief stints with the senior team, which was eliminated during tournament play earlier this week.

“It feels like I’m part of two brotherhoods,” said Weiss, who has fellow KUA students Byrd and Thomas Jenkins keeping him company on the junior roster. “I’ve made friends on both teams.”

Broughton, who has said he believes Post 22 has a legitimate shot at the program’s first state title, added that having half a dozen players who experienced last summer’s postseason run should help in that pursuit.

“We’ve got a little more of a comfort level this time around,” he said.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.