BENNINGTON — During the District 2 series between Bennington and Brattleboro's 11-12 all-stars, the team that's won has come up with timely hits to push their teams to victories.
The story was the same in Game 3, as Brattleboro got a bases-clearing triple from Jack Pattison and a grand slam from Caden Wood in the top of the sixth inning to score a 9-2 win at the Bennington Baseball Park on Thursday night, giving Brattleboro a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"I think we were the hard luck losers tonight, balls didn't fall in for us and it did for them late," said Bennington coach Darryl Lamoreaux. "They also had a couple of really nice defensive plays, my leadoff hitter hit into a double play, the right fielder [was] out of position [on the triple.] Wood hits great, if I learn not to throw to him we'll be fine."
The teams were tied at 2-2 heading into the sixth inning. After Bennington starter Austin Grogan was taken out of the game reaching his 85-pitch limit, Billy Rogers got the final out of the fifth.
Grogan pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and two runs, while striking out 10.
In the sixth, Rogers remained on the hill and got the first bat to ground out, but three straight walks loaded the bases for Elias Gradinger. Gradinger grounded to short and the throw to home nipped Aaron Petrie by a step for the second out.
But that turned the lineup over and the leadoff man, Pattison, worked through a patient nine-pitch at bat against reliever Kadin Davis before shooting a ball into the right center field gap for a triple, driving in all three runners for a 5-2 lead.
"Billy was doing well in relief," Lamoreaux said. "He had some two strike counts, and the batting average for their lower lineup guys hasn't been high, you had to throw strikes there. The top [of the lineup] has been hitting the whole time."
Davis stayed in the game, walking Alex Bingham and Zinabu McNeice to reload the bases. That sent up cleanup hitter Wood, who crushed a grand slam to deep centerfield, the ball hitting halfway up the trees in center. The shot gave him three homers in the series and six RBI on the night.
"The pitches were right where I wanted them and I just hit them," Wood said. "I was just trying to get a base hit to score more runs, but I hit a home run."
Things were compounded with the walks, as Bennington pitchers allowed six free passes.
"We had trouble with the walks late and even Austin went to 3-2 counts too much," Lamoreaux said. "Our kids put the ball in play early in counts, we didn't foul off a lot of pitches, we just happened to hit it at them."
Wood was a thorn in the side of the Bennington pitchers all day. In the first inning, he came to the plate with a runner at first base and blasted a two-run homer to right to give Brattleboro a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first.
"It makes me feel good they are nervous about pitching to me, they think I'll hit another home run," Wood said.
But Grogan settled and kept Brattleboro off the board for the rest of his outing, allowing only a walk and single.
At the same time, Bennington came back from the two-run deficit. In the third, off of Brattleboro starter Huxley Holcombe, Payton Lamoreaux was hit by a pitch and two batters later, Brodie Krawczyk hit a ground-rule double to left to cut the lead in half.
They tied it in the fourth inning. Leadoff hitter Ben Ranzona started the inning with a base hit, then stole second and moved to third on a groundout. Then Rogers singled to left to drive in Ranzona to tie the game at 2-2.
Holcombe pitched a complete game, only throwing 75 pitches. He allowed two runs on five hits, striking out two and walking one.
On Saturday, Brattleboro looks to take control of the series, while Bennington travels across the state to try and tie the series again.
"I think we'll see the two aces on Saturday," said Lamoreaux, talking about Krawczyk and McNeice. "It should be a great battle."