Down in the dumps: Post 84 eliminated from Legion tournament

  • White River Junction Post 84 senior American Legion starting pitcher Alex Bushway walks off the field Sunday at Colchester High after surrendering eight hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. Brady Clark (2) and Jake Colby watch their teammate's exit. Post 84 lost to Rutland, 12-4, in an elimination game at the Vermont State tournament at Colchester High. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Valley News — Tris Wykes

  • Rutland Post 31 runner Luc Vitagliano (13) exults with teammate Reilly Shannon upon crossing home plate Sunday during their senior American Legion team's 12-4 defeat of White River Junction Post 84. White River Junction catcher Drew Martin is at right. Post 84 exited the double-elimination event in two games for the second consecutive year. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) —Tris Wykes

  • White River Junction Post 84 senior American Legion starting pitcher Alex Bushway delivers against Rutland Post 31 on Sunday at Colchester High. Post 84's 12-4 loss in the double-elimination Vermont state tournament ended its season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) —Tris Wykes

  • White River Junction Post 84 runner Robert Slocum is called out on a steal attempt against Rutland Post 31 on Sunday at Colchester High. Rutland's Reece DeCastro shows the umpire the ball. White River Junction's season ended with a 12-4 loss in the double-elimination Vermont state tournament. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) —Tris Wykes

  • White River Junction Post 84 runner Hunter Perkins, left, high-fives Kyle Hamilton after scoring against Rutland Post 31 on Sunday at Colchester High. White River Junction's 12-4 loss in the double-elimination state tournament ended its season and Perkins' six-year Legion career. He hopes to play at Castleton State next spring. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) valley news — Tris Wykes

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2019 10:07:25 PM
Modified: 7/28/2019 10:07:21 PM

COLCHESTER, Vt. — John O’Hara finished Sunday’s postgame speech to his White River Junction Post 84 senior American Legion baseball team and drifted away from the group at Colchester High.

“Ugly,” the coach said in summation of his team’s 12-4 loss to Rutland, and as one-word descriptions go, it was absolutely accurate.

A day after pushing Vermont state tournament host and top-seeded Colchester to extra innings, White River Junction crashed in painful fashion against Post 31 during an elimination game. The showing echoed last season’s exit, another two-and-done display that also concluded with a sloppy defeat against Rutland.

Whereas the 2018 finale exposed a callow team’s myriad weaknesses, O’Hara thought Sunday’s contest featured a stronger bunch with no more emotional fuel. Even those who didn’t play Saturday rode the roller coaster that at times made it seem that Colchester would waltz to victory and in other instances, that Post 84 would manufacture an upset.

“You can’t give good teams extra outs and every team is good here,” O’Hara said. “Driving back up here this morning, I was wondering if we had put out so much emotion yesterday that we’d come out flat today. And that’s what happened.”

White River Junction entered confident in starting pitcher Alex Bushway, Hartford High’s ace. The righthander didn’t look the part, however, lasting only 3⅓ innings and surrendering eight hits and eight runs, all earned. Bushway struck out no batters and walked one.

“Maybe it was the layoff after he only threw one inning in the last week,” O’Hara said. “Yesterday was a long day for everyone and the players (on all teams) didn’t get back to their hotel until nearly midnight after the tournament banquet last night.”

Post 84 went down in order during its initial at-bat while Rutland (20-6) scored twice, its leadoff man singling, its third batter belting a double and its cleanup man delvering another single. The fifth hitter delivered a sacrifice fly.

Bushway got through the second and third innings unscathed while a Hunter Perkins triple and a Brady Clark single during the latter of those frames pulled White River Junction within 2-1. The wheels came off during the bottom of the fourth, however, when Bushway got one out before allowing a walk, back-to-back singles and a double that Perkins overran in center field.

The next two batters also singled and O’Hara yanked Bushway in favor of Windsor High sidearmer Grayson Frazer, who walked the two batters he faced and gave way to Hartford’s Curtis Barry. Rutland drove in single runs with a single and a walk before the inning ended with Post 31 up, 9-1.

Post 84 allowed all eight runners who attempted to steal to do so during its two tournament games and its catchers were hitless in five official at-bats. The hope is that injured Windsor High standout Ryland Richardson, headed to Norwich University this fall, will return to anchor that position next summer.

“Ryland brings leadership and calls a great game,” O’Hara said. “Our guys were learning all season and today, for example, we called a curveball with a 2-0 count and the bases loaded. I had mentioned at some earlier point that we should mix our pitches up, but in that situation, we had nowhere to put the guy.”

Signifying White River Junction’s day, runner Alex Emerson was picked off second base by a wide margin on a throw from the Rutland catcher in the fourth. Other cringe-worthy moments included pitchers and catchers struggling to coordinate signs, a run being lost by a runner’s failure to quickly tag up at third and several instances of incorrect defensive positioning.

Rutland did more damage during the fifth inning off reliever Jake Colby, who allowed four hits and three runs during a two-inning effort in which he struck out no batters and walked three. Post 84 managed five hits total, two of them by Clark, and finished the season 12-14 in state play.

“The goal for next year is to be here for five days,” said O’Hara, noting that virtually the entire roster will have remaining Legion eligibility for the summer of 2020. “It’s not a one-day or two-day tournament. It’s a five-day tournament and the goal is to compete on the fifth day for a title.”

Notes: Bushway threw 71 pitches. ... Robert Slocum played third base less than a day after throwing 104 pitches against Colchester. ... Perkins played the final game of a six-year Legion career that began the summer before his freshman year at Hartford High. He’ll attend Castleton University in the fall, following a postgraduate stint at Maine’s Bridgton Academy. ... Napping on a comforter and pillow besides the White River Junction dugout before the game was Post 84 scorekeeper Shannon Spencer. The longtime Valley News route delivery worker distributed 500 newspapers early on Saturday and Sunday mornings before making the drive up to Colchester. ... O’Hara, who told his players two weeks ago that he won’t come back for a sixth season with the program, said former Hartford High and current Springfield High coach Justin Devoid was hired to coach Post 84 last winter but stepped down when he landed the Cosmos job. O’Hara said the hunt is once again on for a White River Junction bench boss, but he also didn’t rule out coming back if no suitable candidate can be found.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.

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