9-run fourth inning propels Bennington 10U to title


BENNINGTON — Up 2-0 in the 10U District 2 series against Brattleboro, the Bennington all-stars were confident coming in Wednesday's Game 3, looking to clinch the district crown.

Through three-and-a-half innings, Brattleboro had a four-run lead and looked on its way to force a Game 4 on Saturday.

But in the bottom of the fourth, Bennington sent 15 batters to the plate and nine of them scored to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish in a 12-5 series-clinching victory at Hogan Field.

"I think the kids came in thinking it would be easy [after run-rule wins in the first two games]," said Bennington coach Ryan Greenslet. "I tried telling them not to underestimate [Brattleboro]. Then Brattleboro came out hitting from the start. But all it takes is a couple good plays, getting a couple hits and once they got back into it, everyone was putting the bat on the ball."

The rally started innocently enough. Talin Bartholdi reached on an error, Blake Tienken singled and Rohan Behan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no out. Kaleb Ordway reached on an error before Aiden Santarcangelo ripped a two-run single to the outfield out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup.

Two batters later, Seth Greenslet crushed an RBI double to center to drive in another run. Bartholdi came up again and was hit by a pitch, as was Hunter Mattison with the bases loaded, bringing home another run. Behan finished the scoring with an RBI single and when all was said and done, it was 9-4 Bennington — just six outs from the title.

Bennington added three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. It started when Greenslet reached on an error and Jonathan Crossman brought him home with a hit. Bartholdi added a double and Tienken had a RBI single to make it 12-5.

"These kids are up against it against Bennington," said Brattleboro coach Chad Gundry. "They don't get a lot of opportunities like the Bennington kids do at an early age. We came up here and gave it everything we got, laid it on the line and I couldn't be more proud of the kids."

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Brattleboro scored two runs in the top of the first, but left the bases loaded. It also left the bases loaded in the third before adding two more runs in the fourth inning.

Carlos Torres started for Brattleboro, allowing five runs in three-plus innings. Silas Golding relieved and got one out before Briar Cutting came in for the rest of the game.

"Carlos is one of our big leaders, when I put him on the mound, there's no doubt he's going to throw strikes and keep us in the game, he has a heart of gold," Gundry said. "He's always competing for his teammates."

For Bennington, Tienken took the ball to start and pitched three innings, allowing four runs. Smith came in for the fourth and pitched the final three innings, allowing one run.

"Blake pitched great, but they were just hitting him," Ryan Greenslet said.

Cutting and Kason Gundry were the offensive stars for Brattleboro, with the two combining to have four hits and score four runs.

"They've been the catalyst at the top of the lineup, they don't strike out often and tonight they came to compete," Gundry said. "They are both nine years old, so they'll be back next year."

With the win, Bennington will host the state tournament for the first time since 2015, a year that Bennington made its first ever regional appearance for the 10U age group.


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