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VSBL constructed to fill gap left behind by Vt. Legion cancellation

  • Justin Devoid

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2020 9:40:31 PM
Modified: 7/2/2020 9:40:21 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Yes, Virginia, there will indeed be baseball played on the Maxfield Sports Complex’s big diamond this summer.

A White River Junction entry this week began action in the 13-team Vermont Summer Baseball League. As with its New Hampshire COVID Baseball League counterpart across the Connecticut River, the VSBL is serving as a one-time summer replacement for an American Legion season canceled by the coronavirus pandemic in April.

The VSBL’s membership mirrors much of what might have been had Vermont Legion played this summer. The league is split into Northern and Southern divisions, with WRJ in the south with many of its Legion brethren. Twelve of the 13 teams are from Legion towns, the exception being a new entry from Manchester. WRJ will play home games at Maxfield, where Post 84 contests its Vermont Legion games.

“A couple of Legion coaches got together and had a meeting; everyone was all for starting a new league not under the Legion affiliation,” WRJ coach Justin Devoid said in a Wednesday phone chat prior his team’s season-opening 4-2 loss at Bellows Falls. “We had six to eight league meetings and talked about how we could get the kids out and playing. The most important thing is getting kids out and exercising, playing with their friends at a safe distance and following COVID protocols.”

Players and spectators will be expected to follow social distancing and face covering guidelines mandated by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. VSBL teams will play between 15 and 18 games each, and all will make the postseason. Single-elimination playoffs will lead to semifinals and finals set for Maxfield on Aug. 1-2.

The WRJ roster includes most of the athletes who would have populated a Post 84 roster, Devoid said. In addition to Hartford High, the squad is pulling athletes from Oxbow, White River Valley, Windsor, Woodstock, Thetford and Randolph, a Vermont Legion town that opted not to field a VSBL team.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out and competing,” said Devoid, who also coaches the baseball program at Springfield High.

The remainder of WRJ’s regular-season schedule: Sunday vs. Manchester (DH), 11 a.m.; July 7 vs. Brattleboro, 5:30 p.m.; July 8 vs. Rutland, 5:30 p.m.; July 9 vs. BF, 5:30 p.m.; July 11 at Bennington (DH), 11 a.m.; July 15 at Lakes Region, 5:30 p.m.; July 16 at Brattleboro, 5:30 p.m.; July 18 vs. Lakes Region (DH), 11 a.m.; July 21 at BF, 7 p.m.; July 25 at Rutland (DH), 11 a.m.; July 28 vs. Brattleboro, 5:30 p.m.

Anglers 19Us: The Upper Valley Anglers 19Us started their NHCBL week all wet.

Looking to build on a 3-0 start that included three shutouts, the Anglers dropped their first game of the summer in an eight-inning 3-2 loss to Seacoast Pirates Navy on Sunday in Dover. Upper Valley managed just two hits but was unlucky not to win in regulation; Casey Graham scored on a Seacoast error for a 2-2 tie in the seventh, but the Anglers stranded two runners in scoring position.

Since then, rain has interfered. A Monday date at Laconia was called off by storms after two innings (rescheduled to July 24), and an intriguing home contest with the Concord Cannons also fell afoul of the weather (rescheduled to Tuesday). The Cannons boast a roster that includes several NCAA Division I commits.

The 19Us complete a five-game homestand at Eldridge Memorial Park’s Jim Wechslre Field with Seacoast Navy coming to town on Friday night, New Hampshire Prospects Red on Monday, NHP White on Thursday and Merrimack on Friday. Team general manager Pete St. Pierre said early in the week that home games will remain at Eldridge for the time being, although he continues to talk to SAU 88 about moving to the Lebanon High School diamond in the future.

Anglers 17Us: Upper Valley’s junior team has also had its weather issues. Heading into Thursday’s visit to Keene, the Anglers had only Saturday’s doubleheader sweep loss at Hudson under their belts. A Tuesday home opener with Merrimack was rained out, with a makeup date to be determined.

The 17Us play three times next week: at Weare on Tuesday, at Concord on Thursday and at Eldridge for a twinbill with the STA Saints on July 11.

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




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