BENNINGTON — Early in the 2016 campaign, the Post 13 baseball team's nemesis has been the third inning.
In their opener against Bellows Falls, they allowed five runs in that frame. On Thursday night, Brattleboro Post 5 put up three in that inning en route to a 4-1 win at Mount Anthony Union High School.
"I told my pitchers that you can't get the ball up in the zone at this level, because they're all really good hitters and the ball up will get hit," said Post 13 coach Jamie Carey. "I don't feel as bad about the loss [Thursday] because I saw some really good things going on."
Up 1-0 in the top of the third, Post 13 starter Jon Iris got the first two outs of the inning but then walked Tanner Bell. Bell stole second and then Leif Bigelow helped his own cause with a ringing RBI single back up the middle to tie the game at 1-1. Kashidi Ramirez singled next to put two runners on, stole second to get both into scoring position and then Dan Petrie drove in both with a single to left and a 3-1 lead.
"Iris did a nice job early and we made too many outs early in the count," said Post 5 coach Eric Libardoni. "Then we rally with two outs, and Dan comes up with a big hit. We've gotten big hits from him early in the season out of the five spot."
In the fifth, Iris allowed singles to the first two hitters and Carey brought in Brody Farnum. The first batter he faced reached on a fielder's choice after a bunt, but a base-running mistake gave Post 13 a gift out. Petrie then hit a sac fly to deep center for a 4-1 advantage.
Iris pitched four innings and was charged with all four runs — each earned — and allowed six hits. He walked two and struck out four. Farnum pitched the final three innings, allowing no runs, one hit and striking out one.
On the other side, Bigelow pitched a complete game, allowing one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out nine.
"Leif did a nice job of getting ahead in the count, especially in the middle innings, he was effective at shutting them down," Libardoni said. "We booted a couple on defense, but we made some big plays too."
Bigelow kept the two big hitters in Post 13's lineup, Noah Normyle and Devin Babson, quiet for the most part and used his experience and 85 mph fastball to tie up the younger players in the lineup.
"We kept [those two] set and you have to throw strikes to the bottom of the order," Libardoni said. "The leadoff walk [in the second inning to Normyle] led to their only run."
One player who seemed to solve Bigelow was catcher Blake Carey, who was 2-for-2 with an RBI out of the seven spot in the lineup.
"He throws really hard for this level, but I was seeing the ball well today," Blake Carey said. "We haven't had the full lineup of guys yet, but when we do, we'll get going."
Jamie Carey said his son started the season with a couple of strikeouts against Bellows Falls, but that it was nice to see Blake connect on Thursday.
"He didn't have a great game against Bellows Falls, but good things happen when you swing the bat," Jamie Carey said.
Nate Loomis and Nilu Chirchirillo each had base hits for Post 13.
Post 13 plays three games this weekend, one against Lakes Region on Saturday and a Sunday doubleheader against Brattleboro.
"If we can get a win under our belt, it will show the guys they can do it," Jamie Carey said. "We have to get some consistent offense and string together some hits."