A soggy win for Post 84, which stays in playoff contention

  • Post 84 senior American Legion baseball players Tom Bissaillon, right, and Kyle Hamilton await the delayed start of Tuesday's game against visiting Randolph at the Maxfield Sports Complex. A wet field pushed the original 5 p.m. start back two hours, and the second game, the regular season finale, was pushed back to Wednesday in Randolph. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Post 84 senior American Legion player Hunter Perkins throws in the outfield before his team's Tuesday evening game with visiting Randolph at the Maxfield Sports Complex. The start of the squads' doubleheader was pushed back to a 7 p.m. start because of wet field conditions. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • White River Junction Post 84 senior American Legion catcher John Moore practices receiving and blocking pitches before his team clashed with visiting Randolph on Tuesday at the Maxfield Sports Complex. The teams were scheduled to play a season-ending doubleheader starting at 7 p.m. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Jake Colby delivers to home plate Tuesday for White River Junction Post 84 during a senior American Legion game against visiting Randolph at the Maxfield Sports Complex. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 9:46:25 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — When John O’Hara and Chris Hamilton arrived at the Maxfield Sports Complex early on Tuesday afternoon, the main baseball diamond was far from playable. Heavy rains Monday and overnight had left the surface more suited for sailing than a hardball doubleheader.

“Home plate was literally underwater,” said Hamilton, a White River Junction Post 84 senior American Legion team parent and de facto groundskeeper.

O’Hara, the head coach, said town workers had assumed the infield’s cause was hopeless for Tuesday play and attacked it only upon his urging. A heavy, spiked drag was attached to a tractor and chugged over the dirt, turning it over in an ultimately successful effort to speed the drying process.

The urgency? Well, the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Upper Valley Nighthawks have games at Maxfield on Wednesday and Thursday, and the latter of those days marks the end of the Legion season. The eight-team Vermont State tournament begins Saturday at Colchester.

Tuesday’s twinbill had its 5 p.m. start delayed two hours. Post 84 found out during the first game that Bennington, with which it’s battling for the South Division’s fourth and final playoff berth, had lost to Brattleboro, meaning two victories over Randolph would push White River Junction into the state tournament.

Post 84 won the first game, 10-1, and the second contest was postponed until Wednesday at Randolph because of the late time. A White River Junction victory will set up a first-round tournament game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Colchester High.

Randolph (2-21) entered Tuesday’s game coming off a weekend during which it lost a doubleheader to Rutland and then forfeited a twin bill against Brattleboro. Post 9 features White River Valley High’s Austin Tracy, Jake Hewitt, Timber Russell, Carder Stratton, Zeb Perrault, George Carr, Logan Martin, Tyler Ballentine, Jacob Barry and Dominic Craven. The Wildcats won the Vermont Division IV title this spring.

White River Junction (11-12) opened the first game’s scoring during the second inning. Robert Slocum walked, stole second, was sacrificed to third by Jake Colby and scored on a wild pitch. The hosts pushed their lead to 2-0 when Ethan Belvin walked, moved to second when a runner ahead of him was thrown out at home and scored on Jacob Dwinnell’s single.

The advantage moved to 3-0 during the third frame. Perkins worked a leadoff walk, stole second, took third on a Hamilton fly out and crossed the plate on a Brady Clark double.

Randolph rallied for a run during the fifth inning. Dylan Kuban reached first on a fielder’s choice and three walks followed to make the score 3-1. Reliever Ryan Pepe of Thetford Academy struck out Jake Hewitt looking for the inning’s third out and with the bases loaded.

White River Junction starting pitcher Jake Colby lasted 4⅓ innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out three batters and walking five. The Chelsea product threw 86 pitches.

The home half of the fifth inning saw Perkins draw a one-out walk, followed by a Hamilton fielder’s choice and a Clark double that scored Perkins for a 4-1 advantage. A Slocum single scored Hamilton and Clark to make the score 6-1 and Colby singled home Slocum, who’d stolen second, for a 7-1 lead. Randolph starter Barry was replaced by Russell.

Notes: Colby and Bissaillon played for Post 9 last season, when it finished 3-17. … Maxfield’s left field bullpen was unusable because of standing water, so both teams used the one in right field. … Heard Tuesday on the public address: 1985 hit Rock Me Amadeus by Falco, the best-selling Austrian musical artist of all time. … O’Hara said player Alex Emerson, a rising Thetford Academy senior, plans to go into the Marine Corps reserves next summer, but may be able to again play for Post 84 before he heads to boot camp. … There’s no end in sight to the ever-growing hair of White River Junction shortstop Kyle Hamilton, who’s avoided a cut for roughly a year. Teammates cheered on “Goldilocks” when he batted Tuesday. … Slocum plays with the right, rear pocket of his baseball pants hanging inside out for perceived good luck... In the home dugout was recent Windsor High graduate Ryland Richardson, who’s missing the Post 84 season while recuperating from major knee surgery last autumn. He and Slocum are headed to Norwich University to play baseball for the Cadets. … Nighthawks pitcher and Post 84 alum Jordy Allard stopped by to dispense a quick back massage to former Legion and Hartford High teammate Dylan Spencer, now White River Junction’s first-base coach. “He has small hands, but they work wonders,” Spencer said.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.

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