Bennington 12U falls in extra innings
BENNINGTON — Trailing by five with only three outs left, the Brattleboro 12U baseball all-star team had to have a nearly-miraculous comeback to win Game 1 of the 3-game finals.
Thanks to some timely hits and a couple of homers, Brattleboro scored eight runs after the sixth inning and scored an extra-inning 12-10 victory.
"The kids never put their heads down and they battled," said Brattleboro coach Eugene Frost. "Bennington is a great team, they are tough and well-coached, so we knew we had our work cut out for us."
Against Ayman Nasar, the second reliever in for Bennington, Karsen Elliott started the sixth inning with a base hit before Jett Emery lined out to short for the first out. But Brandon Weeks, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, drove a pitch from the lefty deep and gone in center to cut the lead to 9-6.
Nasar still had some room to play with and struck out Willem Thurber for the second out, but the final out proved elusive.
"I thought we had it in control, but it got out of control real quick," Thompson said. "They got the hits when they needed to."
Nick Gerard doubled and Tucker Sargent reached on an error before Deegan Gundry rocketed a shot to left field. Gerard scored easily to make it 9-8 and when the ball got past the left fielder, Sargent scored to tie the game at 9-9.
"We had some big hits and smart baserunning," Frost said. "We've worked real hard on getting the ball in play, if you can do that, good things happen. We took the counts deep, got on base and the guys did their thing."
Bennington had a chance to win it in the bottom of the sixth, but Jackson Emery shut it down with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to send the game to extra innings.
Nat Greenslet came in for the seventh and retired Brattleboro in order and then in the bottom of the seventh, Emery walked two but stranded them both with a strikeout.
In the top of the eighth, Brattleboro went ahead. The first two hitters reached with base hits and then Gerard got a hold of one and drove it out of the park for a three-run dinger and a 12-9 lead.
"He's our catcher and one of our big hitters," Frost said. "We've been waiting for him to come alive [at the plate]."
Bennington refused to go quietly. With one out, Greenslet redeemed himself with a deep solo home run to pull within two at 12-10. The next two hitters, Connor Hannan and Naser each reached on hits and it looked like Sean Moriarty would add one with a blooper to short center. But the Brattleboro right fielder, Charlie Clark, sprinted in and dove to make the catch for the second out.
The teams traded the lead back and forth throughout. Brattleboro scored a pair of runs in the first inning on a Sargent homer, but Bennington tied it with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Brattleboro took the lead with runs in the second and third to take a 4-2 lead before Bennington scored four runs in the bottom of the third to regain the advantage.
In the fifth, Bennington added three insurance runs on four hits, including an RBI single from No. 9 hitter Jesse Quinn to make it 9-4.
"We felt like we were in control at that point," Thompson said. "We'll give up runs to get outs."
For Bennington, Carter Thompson had three hits as did Connor Hannan. Greenslet added a homer and a double.
The two teams will meet for Game 2 of the series in Brattleboro on Saturday, first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. If Brattleboro wins, they move on to the state tournament. If Bennington wins, there will be a Game 3 scheduled for Sunday.
"I told them it's one game," Thompson said. "We beat them in two games in the round robin, we can beat these guys."
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