BENNINGTON -- On opening day for Bennington Post 13, it was a familiar face -- and one not-so-familiar -- that was the difference in getting coach Jamie Carey his first win.
Long Trail School’s Kaz Kusumi reached base three times and scored three runs, while Mount Anthony Union High School graduate Zach Bahan was 3-for-4 with a towering homer in Post 13’s 7-3 win over Hartford on Tuesday night at MAU.
"College ball has definitely prepared me the most," said Bahan, who just finished his freshman baseball season at Castleton State. "It was a good year working out with all [my teammates]."
Tied at 2-2 after four innings, Mount Anthony took the lead for good in the fifth, batting around in the frame.
Kusumi started the rally with a single to center and catcher Cameron Bow followed up with a single to put runners on second and third with one out.
"I put on a hit and run with Cam and Kaz and Cam did exactly what he’s supposed to do," Carey said.
Then on a 0-1 pitch, Bahan got a meaty fastball from Hartford’s Dylan Spencer that he crushed over the net in left-center field and onto a lawn on County Street for a three-run bomb estimated at 375 feet to make it 5-2.
"I always expect that from Zach, he’ll hit the ball hard somewhere," Carey said.
Before the homer, Hartford coach Jarrod Grassi went to the mound to talk to Spencer, a rising sophomore at Hartford, on how to pitch Bahan.
"I told him that walking Zach isn’t the worse thing you can do," Grassi said. "I told him to be careful, and he wasn’t. You don’t want to leave Zach a pitch [in the middle of the plate]."
After Dale Collette flied out, Spencer walked Ellis Baker and Austin Metcalfe and was relieved by Dylan Terino, who struggled to find the strike zone. Terino walked Ezra Caron on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases, then issued a free pass to Brady Sausville for the team’s sixth run. Terino got Weston Lozier to pop up, but the damage was done.
"We’ve yet to have everyone here for one night, we’re still missing a couple guys," Grassi said. "It’s a different mix and we’re trying to figure out who goes where in the lineup. It’ll be a challenge to score runs this year and that puts pressure on our pitchers."
Spencer took the loss for Hartford, allowing six runs (five earned), and seven hits.
On the other side, Matt Upright started for Post 13, pitching four innings and allowing two runs (one earned) and three hits. He walked two and struck out three. In relief, Sausville got the win, pitching the final three innings. He allowed one run and struck out four.
"I think I discovered a nice 1-2 punch with Matt and Brady," Carey said. "Matt was the star at MAU, he came out and did what I expected, but it was the first time I’d seen Brady pitch in a game, and I was impressed. He kept the ball down, moved it in and out, really kept Hartford off base."
Mount Anthony added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with Kusumi and Bahan doing the damage. Kusumi walked to start the frame, then stole second to get into scoring position. Then Bahan ripped a single to center, sending home Kusumi.
"We hit [their pitchers] all day, and they started falling in the second half of the game," said Bahan, who is in his third year with Post 13. "The new guys are producing and contributing in those spots where we lost guys from a year ago."
Down 2-0, MAU tied the game in the third when Upright and Baker each had doubles to drive in runs. Baker was called out at third on a nice relay throw, but the momentum had shifted.
"This is a good solid team, a deep team and guys can play all over the place," Carey said. "I was very pleased with our performance, it was a great opening day. I couldn’t be happier."