Britch home run propels Bennington to District crown

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BENNINGTON — Saturday's back-and-forth affair in Game 2 of the best-of-three District 2 Little League all-star series between Bennington and Brattleboro was the most trouble that the Bennington all-stars had throughout the tournament.

Down by two runs heading into the bottom of the fifth, Bennington needed a big hit.

They got it from Riley Britch, who hit a game-tying home run — the only one in the entire tournament — en route to a wild 13-12 series-clinching win at Hogan Field.

"I was looking for a fastball and I saw mine and I just drove it," Britch said. "I was surprised a little bit, but once I saw it go, I knew it was going."

Trailing 10-8, Colby Hill led off the fifth for Bennington and singled to put the tying run on base. Britch was next and after getting the count to 2-and-2, he hit a ball that bounced off the roof of the equipment shed for a homer to make it 10-10 and after coming around the bases, he was mobbed by his teammates.

"We hadn't faced [a big deficit] yet and to know they have the heart and the guts to fight through some adversity is huge. We're going to have adversity going into the state tournament, but it's good to see they can do it," said Bennington manager Derrick Tienken.

But Bennington wasn't done. The next three hitters in the lineup — Stephen Collette, Jeffrey Dunn and Ryan Maroney — all reached as pinch hitters to load the bases. Hunter Sherwin fanned for the first out, but Bennington took advantage of Brattleboro's wildness as Sean Moriarty, Vance Kobelia and Dreland Carey all worked bases-loaded walks and making the score 13-10.

"We have confidence in everybody on this team. We're not worried about putting kids into different spots," Tienken said. "Our bench players are looking for the spot to come in and make a difference because they all do, everyone has contributed in the five games we've played so far."

Brattleboro made one final push to save the series in the top of the sixth against Collette. Chase Austin started the frame with a leadoff double and came home on a Jake Glidden single. Asher Jackson was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second base with no out, putting Bennington on the ropes.

But the next hitter, John Satterfield, ripped a shot to center that Colin Brady came in and made a nice play on. Nearly in the same moment, Brady noticed Glidden was too far off second and the throw to double him up was in time.

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Down to its final out, Brattleboro's Alex McClelland walked, Harper Cutler singled and Evan Wright reached on an error to load the bases for Sam Bogart. Collette bore down, getting Bogart to ground out and secure the District 2 championship.

Brattleboro got on the board first with one run in the second inning and four more in the third to take a 5-0 lead. Trailing more than they had throughout the tournament, Bennington came up with eight runs as 12 batters hit in the frame.

The big blow was a two-run single from Kobelia and a run-scoring double from Britch.

"It makes you proud," Tienken said. "You can preach [not getting down] all you want, but to see them put it into action and put up eight after being down five is huge for a team of 11 and 12-year-olds to do. It was a proud coach moment."

Brattleboro battled back, scoring three runs themselves in the top of the fourth to tie the game at eight. In the bottom of the fourth, Kobelia walked with two out and tried to go first to third on Carey's single, but a terrific, on-point throw from Bogart in center cut down Kobelia for the final out of the inning.

Offensive stars for Bennington were Hill, who had two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Kobelia was on base three times and added three RBI and Britch had two hits and three RBI.

Offensive stars for Brattleboro included Wright, who had a pair of hits and drove in four runs. Bogart was on base four of the five times he came to the plate, with two hits and two walks, while Austin, Cutler and Glidden each had a pair of hits.

Bennington now advances to the state tournament, which takes place in District 4.

"It feels good and hopefully we can win and move on from there," Britch said.

"If we play our baseball, we can beat anyone in the state," Tienken said. "They won't be intimidated or worried about the northern teams, they believe in themselves and they'll come ready to play ball. I wouldn't be surprised if we won, we're certainly good enough to do it."


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