BENNINGTON -- All it took for the Bennington 11/12 all-star baseball team to take a commanding lead in the best-of-seven district playoffs against Brattleboro was one inning, nine runs and 42 pitches.
Bennington sent 13 hitters to the plate in the second inning -- scoring nine times and holding on for a 9-6 win to give Bennington a 3-1 series lead.
"There's no quit in this team, they hit until the third strike and the third out," said Bennington coach Jesse King. "They believe in themselves and we believe in them as coaches, we have all the confidence in the world in this team."
Brattleboro took an early 3-0 lead with two runs in the first and one in the second. Tyler Millerick and Charlie Galanes started the game with base hits. Adam Newton walked to load the bases and the next two hitters -- Kris Carroll and Dylan Carrasquella -- each earned RBIs with groundouts to make it 2-0.
In the second, Darwin Holcombe and Hailey Derosia reached to start the inning and Newton cracked a single to make it 3-0.
But the deficit was short-lived as the Bennington bats came alive in the bottom of the second, scoring eight runs with two out. Ian Benner started the frame with a double, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on an error by the shortshop. With two on and two out, Jackson Free pounded the first pitch for a double to center, scoring both runs to tie the game.
Keegan Coon came up next, singling to drive home Free to take a 4-3 lead. Tanner King singled, as did Caleb Hay, and a throwing error by the third baseman after the Hay hit allowed both to score for a 7-3 advantage.
"Tanner knew what to do, he came around second when they threw the ball into center field and scored on it," Jesse King said.
Benner, who started the rally to begin with, then blasted a homer to straightaway center field.
"We had six homers in Game 2, three in Game 3 and only one today, but it was big," Jesse King said. "All 12 guys can hit and nine of them can hit homers. It's a lot of hard work and time we put in."
The inning continued, with Thomas McCarthy and Cole Bushee each singling. Evan Coon fanned to end the inning, but all the damage was done and Bennington was fired up.
"We worked together as a team, the main thing is sticking together, keeping the chin up and hustling," said Tanner King, who was 1-for-3 in the game. "We're thinking all the time, knowing where the ball's going when they throw it."
Brattleboro scored twice in the fourth inning, as Millerick (2-for-3) and Galanes (2-for-4) both had hits, along with Newton (2-for-4, 2 RBI). Carroll drove in Brattleboro's fifth run with a groundout.
Free started on the hill for Bennington, going 3 2/3 innings before reaching the 85-pitch limit. Tanner King came in for 1 2/3 innings of relief, and after he got the first out in the sixth, three straight Brattleboro hitters reached base, bringing the tying run to the plate.
King was taken out for Cole Bushee, who struck out Alex Lier and got Keegan Givens to ground back to the pitcher to end the game."
"Jackson did a nice job and then we put Tanner in and he did a great job of closing it out," Jesse King said. "I pulled Tanner at 30 pitches, so he's available later and Cole came in and did a tremendous job."
Newton started for Brattleboro and threw five innings until reaching his pitch limit. Shane Cyr got the last three outs.
Bennington travels to Brattleboro on Saturday for Game 5 at 4 p.m. If Brattleboro wins, Game 6 would be Sunday at a time to be announced.