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Tie Result Benefits All in Legion Game

  • Lebanon Post 22 runner Will Smith dives towards home plate Saturday at the Maxfield Athletic Complex, attempting to beat the tag of White River Junction Post 84 catcher Tyler Hamilton. Smith was ruled out by umpire Brewster Gove and the senior American Legion teams ended the nine-inning game in a 4-4 tie. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Dan Ammel, son of late local baseball umpire Bob Ammel, holds a plaque with his father's likeness on it Saturday at the Maxfield Athletic Complex. Bob Ammel, 62, died in a vehicle accident last year and a senior American Legion baseball game was played in his honor. White River Junction Post 84 and Lebanon Post 22 tied, 4-4, during a nine-inning game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, June 24, 2017

White River Junction — The winner of Saturday night’s senior American Legion game between White River Junction Post 84 and Lebanon Post 22? Upper Valley baseball.

An announced crowd of nearly 700 people gathered at the Maxfield Athletic Complex’s main diamond to watch the area programs, which had not officially clashed for roughly 20 years, do so in an exciting contest. There were three plays at the plate, the hidden ball trick was attempted and visiting Lebanon rallied for a run during the ninth inning to forge the final deadlock.

Because both squads have league games scheduled today, their coaches decided to halt Saturday’s tilt with scored tied, 4-4, after Post 84 narrowly missed scoring the winning run during its half of the ninth.

The contest raised funds to benefit a scholarship account in the name of Bob Ammel, a longtime area umpire who died in a vehicle crash last year.

“In some strange way, it seems like the way this game was meant to end,” Post 84 coach Jarrod Grassi said.

Added Post 22 outfielder Will Smith: “We wanted to keep playing, and I don’t think either team is happy that we didn’t, but a tie is probably what Bob would have wanted. This way, all the fans go home happy.”

White River Junction (8-2-1) opened the scoring during the first inning. Tyler Hamilton led off with a walk, stole second base and took third on a fly out. He scored on a wild pitch by Lebanon starter Henry Day.

Post 22 answered with two runs during the third inning. Andrew Hadlock smacked a one-out single and scored when Day singled off the glove of diving center fielder Brady Clark. Day scored when shortstop Jordy Allard booted a Smith grounder.

Lebanon went up, 3-1, in the sixth inning. Matt Braley reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored on Dashiel Fukushima’s long single to the outfield. Moments later, Fukushima was seemingly tagged out by first baseman Hunter Perkins on the hidden ball trick. After some confusion, however, the umpires ruled that pitcher Robert Slocum had been on the mound at the moment of the tag, resulting in a balk ruling.

“The game became more intense after that,” Smith said with a grin. “I never saw that play coming and had no idea what was going on. I don’t think the umpires had any idea. Sneaky baseball.”

Grassi said he never calls for the hidden ball play, which is executed on the fly by his players. However, “I could see it hanging out of Hunter’s glove when he went back to the bag,” the coach said.

White River Junction, made up primarily of players from Hartford and Windsor, broke out for three runs during the eighth inning and took a 4-3 lead against reliever Eli Jaynes. Smith walked and stole second before scoring on a fielding error by shortstop Seanon May. That gaffe allowed Jacob Perkins to reach first and he also stole second.

Hunter Perkins followed with a walk and an Allard double scored Jacob Perkins for a 3-3 tie. Moises Celaya’s sacrifice fly brought in pinch runner Riley Packard and put the hosts up by a run.

Lebanon’s run during the final frame came when Fukushima got aboard on a two-out fielder’s choice and scored standing up on a Smith triple. May struck out to end the threat. Post 84’s Brady Clark led off his team’s half of the ninth with a walk, but was caught stealing on a Hadlock throw.

Duncan Frazer followed with a single off Lebanon pitcher Joey Parras and moved to third base when Ryland Richardson reached first on a fielding error by second baseman Caleb Broughton. The game ended, however, when Jacob Perkins grounded back to Parras, who threw him out.

“Post 22 overshadowed us in the past,” said Grassi, who’s not too far removed from the days when he had to literally beg players to suit up for his Legion squad. “We weren’t competitive at their level for a long time, but we are now.

“We’ve got kids who want to play all the time and it’s different. I liked the energy we brought from the beginning tonight.”

Smith recalled playing with the Perkins brothers, Hamilton and Allard on an Upper Valley Bombers AAU team at the under-10 level.

“We wanted to win and get the title of best team in the Upper Valley,” he said. “Now, we have to focus on the state tournament. Every year we seem to get a pretty good seed and then we lose the first two games and we’re out. We’ve been talking about that and it’s not going to happen again.”

Lebanon (5-0-1) visits Milford for one game today. White River Junction plays a doubleheader against Lakes Region at Castleton University starting at noon.

Notes: Dartmouth College men’s golf coach Rich Parker, father of Post 22 first baseman Trey Parker, worked the game’s public-address system. When his son began to protest a call in the field, Rich Parker turned on the microphone and said “Sit down,” which abruptly ended the dispute. … The teams swung wooden bats. Lebanon uses them all the time in accordance with New Hampshire rules, but White River Junction wields composite clubs during Vermont play. … Hamilton has been on the baseball showcase circuit lately and his father, Dartmouth diving coach Chris Hamilton, said he’s receiving significant college interest. Union, Fairfield, Dartmouth, Harvard and Williams are in the recruiting picture for either baseball or football, or both. … Hunter Perkins, a rising Hartford High senior, said he’s hoping to use a prep school postgraduate year before he attends college. Maine’s Bridgton Academy is on his radar… The teams wore hats and jerseys specially made for the benefit game and featuring Bob Ammel’s initials … Attendance was announced at 678 and the total raised for the scholarship fund through donations and various other means will be announced this week.

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