Early runs back Collette as Bennington U12 win 9-4

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BENNINGTON — When it comes to their at-bats, Bennington U12 all-star manager Derrick Tienken talks all the time about having good discipline at the plate.

"We talk about it a lot, you take a different swing at 2-and-0 than you do at 0-and-2," Tienken said. "You're looking for that one pitch when the count is in your favor and in a spot where you can drive it. If's the ball's in their zone, they're going to hit it hard."

Bennington used that discipline and a handful of timely hits to beat Brattleboro, 9-4, on Friday, and improve to 3-0 in round robin play. The victory ensures a No. 1 seed.

Trailing 1-0 after a top of the first where Brattleboro had the bases loaded and no outs and only scored a single run on an Evan Wright RBI fielder's choice, Bennington came to the plate with a discerning eye against Wright, who started on the mound.

The first three hitters all walked as Wright struggled to find command, loading the bases with no out. Dreland Carey drove in a run with a single and Ryan Maroney drove on in on a fielder's choice to make it 2-1. After a flyout, Steven Collette hit a liner that took a bad hop on the right fielder, driving in two more runs for a 4-1 lead.

"When you're 12, everything's night and day," said Brattleboro manager Lance Cutler. "It was day at the beginning of the first and it was night at the end. It's about getting them through half the game before starting to second-guess themselves."

It was more of the same in the second inning as Bennington tacked on three more runs. Hunter Sherwin singled with one out and after Sean Moriarty was robbed on a terrific diving catch by the Brattleboro center fielder, Vance Kobelia — one of the top hitters so far in the all-star series — roped an RBI double to bring in a run.

It was one of two doubles on the day as he drove in a pair of runs out of the No. 3 spot in the order.

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"He has become a leader of this team and a guy you want up there in a big spot," Tienken said. "He comes through when we need him and he did again today."

Wright pitched the first two innings before Sam Bogart finished the final three innings.

On the other side, Collette kept the Brattleboro bats in check after getting out of the first-inning jam. In the second inning, he allowed a hit, but a nice double play by Kobelia snuffed out the threat. In the fourth, Bogart got on with a single with two outs, but when Hayden Avard hit a grounder toward first, Bogart was hit, and he was out to end the inning.

All told, Collette only threw 75 pitches in his six innings of work.

"That's the type of pitcher Steven is, he's not a big strikeout guy," Tienken said. "He's more keep you off balance, hitting spots, changing speeds."

Brattleboro made a little bit of a comeback in the top of the fifth, putting up three runs. Asher Jackson and John Satterfield had back-to-back hits before Alex McClelland walked. With the bases loaded, Harper Cutler blasted a 2-run double to left to make it 9-3. Wright added an RBI groundout but that was it for the scoring.

"These guys have played this team since they were nine," Lance Cutler said. "It's the idea that nothing's easy in baseball and guys just have to grind it out. Win, lose or draw, we could have the opportunity to play these guys again."

With the win, Bennington is guaranteed to host the final three-game series between the winner of the 2-3 matchup between Brattleboro and Rutland next week.

"That's what you're gunning for in the pool play, you want to have the first game at home in the series," Tienken said. "I'm excited. We have a lot of pitching depth and we can get those guys some experience [today] against Rutland."


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