Filled with experience, Post 13 looks to rebound

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BENNINGTON — With 11 players returning from last summer, the Bennington Post 13 Legion baseball team is ready to start anew after a rough 2016.

After the end of the season last July, fourth-year head coach Jamie Carey wanted to shake up the team, who haven't made the postseason tournament for the past couple of years. So he went to the high school coaches, trying to convince players to come out and enjoy a summer of baseball.

"I said right after the season ended, I have to start getting pitching," Carey said. "I didn't have a ton of the local guys last year, I have to reach out a little more. It's good for the Legion team to get a mix from different schools. So I introduced myself, told them about the season, and asked if they wanted to be a part of Post 13 baseball."

Tryouts last week brought out nearly two dozen hopefuls and 17 were kept.

"I didn't know a lot about some of the kids, so I sent out an email to the local coaches, at Hoosick Falls, Burr and Burton, Long Trail, even Cambridge," Carey said. "I wanted to get pitching because the pitching rules in Legion are changing.

The American Legion is going through a program called pitch-smart that places age-appropriate restrictions on pitch counts.

Along with having players with Legion experience, a lot of his players have had time in big games at the varsity level. For example, Arlington's Jack Lane pitched in the Division IV semifinals as did Evan Crumb with Long Trail School.

Burr and Burton's James Reilly and Cooper Weir contributed in big ways to help the Bulldogs win the Division I state championship as well.

Pitching-wise, Carey has Jon Iris, a BBA grad, along with Wyatt Whitman, a Hoosick Falls grad, to lead the staff. Lane and Stevens will be on the staff as well, but a handful of others could join them.

"It's different this year because I have pitchers on the staff," Carey said. "They've pitched all season, they hit their spots and throw their offspeed when their supposed to. Instead of walking a guy, we'll get groundouts. I have a strong defense, we've already seen it against Brattleboro.

In their opening game of the year, Post 13 dropped a 5-3 decision to Post 13.

The starting infield will mix two new guys in Josh Plawinski and Crumb at the corners with two holdovers in the middle in Brian Grace and Noah Loomis. In the outfield, Nilu Chirchirillo will patrol center, Reilly in right and Cooper Weir in left.

"But we have lots of options," Carey said. "Cole Bushee will be out there, Damian Hessler was good in the field and at the plate."

Carey's son, Blake, will catch most of the time, but will share time with Crumb during doubleheaders.

"The difference this year, not taking anything away from other teams, this year I have a pitching staff that I can count on and a defense I can count on behind them," Carey said. "If we make the plays we're supposed to make, we'll win some games. We have good speed and good bats.

Baseball's a game, it's supposed to be fun."

Bennington's roster: Brian Grace, Jack Lane, Jon Iris, Andrew Stevens, Blake Carey, Cole Bushee, Damian Hessler, Bryce Bush, James Reilly, Cooper Weir, Will Buck, Nilu Chirchirillo, Evan Crumb, Noah Loomis, Dominick Testo, Josh Plawinski and Wyatt Whitman.

Bennington's remaining schedule: DH = doubleheader

June 18 (DH) vs Bellows Falls, 12 and 3 p.m.

June 20 vs Brattleboro, 5:30 p.m.

June 22 vs Post 84, 5:30 p.m.

June 27 at Ludlow, 5:30 p.m.

June 28 vs Ludlow, 5:30 p.m.

June 29 at Ludlow, 5:30 p.m.

July 1 (DH) at Lakes Region, 12, 3 p.m.

July 2 vs Lakes Region, noon

July 6 vs Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

July 8 (DH) vs Randolph, 12, 3 p.m.

July 9 at Randolph, noon

July 13 at Bellows Falls, 5:30 p.m.

July 15 (DH) at Post 84, 12, 3 p.m.

July 16 (DH) at Rutland, 12, 3 p.m.

July 18 vs Brattleboro, 5:30 p.m.

July 22 state tournament at Maxfield begins


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