BENNINGTON — They’ve been playing baseball together for the better part of the last five years. A group of 13 Bennington County athletes who love the sport, they’re called the Green Mountain Lightning. This year the Lightning are competing as a 13-and-under club in the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League (ENYTBL) and visiting baseball diamonds around the region.
The group has been together since they were eight years old playing Little League. That’s when the traveling started.
From 2018 until this year, they’d travel around the Capitol Region playing in the Empire State League each spring and fall, typically playing anywhere from 25-35 games. In the summers, most of them donned the Bennington all-star jerseys, so the team took a break from play.
Many members were also part of the 2019 10-and-under Bennington Little League team that made it to the New England Regional tournament and won the first game at that stage in the town’s history.
Nine of the players on the Lightning’s current roster were on last year’s Bennington 12 and under team that was vying for a state championship until it had to withdraw from the tournament because of a player contracting COVID-19.
The Lightning players have shown their recline, not missing a beat since.
Last weekend, they traveled to Flemington, New Jersey and competed in the Independence Weekend Firecracker Tournament at Diamond Nation, a premier venue consisting of 700,000 square feet of turf fields with the ability to play 12 games simultaneously.
A total of 30 clubs spanning the East Coast took part in the tournament and the Lightning held their own, finishing sixth overall with a 3-1 record and wins over teams from the Bronx, Staten Island and Lindenwold, New Jersey.
Green Mountain’s lone loss came against All Star Sports Academy of West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“It was a great experience for the boys, and they played some great baseball,” said coach Derrick Tienken.
Now the squad has its sights set on a different championship this summer — the ENYTBL Super 8 tournament.. The ENYTBL features 45 teams, but only the top eight programs make the Super 8 tournament. Bennington is a No. 5 seed and started their chase for a league championship on Thursday night against No. 4 Sorensco Falcons.
Although the league tournament is currently ongoing, the Lightning will host a pair of league games next week at Mount Anthony Union High School.
July 22, the 14-and-under Berkshire Americans come to town for a 6 p.m. showdown. Then, on July 24, the Colombia Clippers come to town for a doubleheader, with the first pitch slated for 12:30 p.m.
Green Mountain will conclude its season playing in the Harborfest Summer Classic in Oswego, New York from July 29-31.
Thursday’s game results were not available by print deadline. Visit Benningtonbanner.com/sports to find out who won.
Roster: Aiden Santarcangelo, Blake Tienken, Brody Smith, Bryce Tienken, Carson Andrick, Colby Hill, Hudson Burnell, Jackson Kunisch, Jonathan Crossman, Rowan Behan, Seth Greenslet, Shawn Oakes, Talin Bartholdi
Coaches: Derrick Tienken, Rick Bartholdi, Shawn Leonard, Chad Raetz