Post 22’s Taylor is a cool customer

  • Lebanon Post 22's Zack Howland hits an RBI double off Keene Post 4 pitcher Aaron Kent as Jaden Phillips catches during the fourth inning of their game in Lebanon, N.H., on June 29, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News Photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • From left, Lebanon Post 22's Casey Graham, Wes Stocken, Ian Hedgepeth and Harper Flint play a game of Flip during a 30-minute weather delay against Keene Post 4 in Lebanon, N.H., on June 29, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • Lebanon Post 22's Owen Taylor, right, is congratulated by teammate Harper Flint after hitting a two-run RBI double and later scoring in the fourth inning of their game against Keene Post 4 in Lebanon, N.H., on June 29, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon Post 22 coach Rob Woodward speaks with hitters Harper Flint, left, and Jordan Campbell during a pitching change in their game against Keene Post 4 in Lebanon, N.H., on June 29, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/29/2021 10:44:47 PM
Modified: 6/29/2021 10:44:48 PM

LEBANON — Owen Taylor has had to get used to a few new things this summer.

For one, there’s the shoulder-length mane of hair hanging down from the back of his Lebanon Post 22 baseball cap. It’s been growing longer and longer through the passing of the year, although on a sultry Tuesday night he admitted, “it’s hot.”

Having not played summer ball since Babe Ruth and never for Post 22 coach Rob Woodward, Taylor didn’t expect to be put in the role of team leader, either. He’s adjusting to those responsibilities, too, as shown in Lebanon’s narrow 7-5 win over Keene Post 4 in a N.H. American Legion District A senior contest at Lebanon High.

The left-handed pitcher negotiated either side of a 26-minute weather stoppage with relative ease, contributing a two-run double and scoring twice as Lebanon (4-5) built a 6-0 lead. Post 4 (3-4) eventually caught up to Taylor, leaving another new face — Fall Mountain’s Hayden Chandler — to record a gutsy five-out save.

“I’ve never seen Owen pitch, but he’s thrown some great games for us,” Woodward said. “He’s had a little tough luck with losing, but it isn’t because of him. He’s putting the ball in play, ground balls, and he throws the ball great.”

A three-sport standout at Stevens, Taylor presents the picture of calm on the mound, even if he isn’t the hardest thrower. He isn’t likely to strike out batters by the dozen, although he did produce a few timely Ks when it mattered against Keene.

Also bound for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl in early August as well, Taylor said he hasn’t had the time to play summer baseball for a few years, but an entreaty from Sunapee High’s Jordan Chappell helped bring him back. Chappell serves as catcher when Taylor is on the mound.

“I’ve just been busy, and this year I just found the time for it,” said Taylor, who struck out five and surrendered seven hits, four walks and a hit batter in 5⅓ innings of work. “I’ve had some friends that have played here before and they loved it, and I have a couple of friends that I knew that were going to play this year as well. So I was like, ‘I’ll go, too.’ ”

Lebanon gave Taylor plenty of support early.

Casey Graham and Taylor drew one-out walks in the home first off Keene left-handed starter Aaron Kent, both scoring unearned runs after a Keene throwing error on a Harper Flint grounder. None the worse for wear from the weather delay, Lebanon added three runs in the home third, with Taylor cracking a two-out, two-run opposite-field double to left-center before scoring on a Zack Howland single to right.

Ian Hedgepeth doubled, stole third and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth for the 6-0 cushion. Taylor tired in the fifth, allowing four runs, and was pulled for Chandler after allowing a run in the sixth. The righty reliever got out of a bases-loaded jam with two ground balls, closing out the victory with a double play in the seventh.

“Big night for him right there,” Woodward said. “Needed a paper bag after. He was hyperventilating after that was over.”

That’s the kind of result for which Taylor signed up.

“Owen is a competitor, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got,” said Paul Silva, Taylor’s coach at Stevens. “He finds a way to settle down and get the job done.”

Greg Fennell be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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