Pitching leads Bennington past Brattleboro in opener

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BENNINGTON — Bennington 10U Little League coach Ryan Greenslet has tons of versatility with his roster and that holds true for his options on the mound.

Bennington flashed a pair of strong pitchers in game one of the district tournament series against Brattleboro and it paid off in a big way.

Brody Smith and Blake Tienken combined to hold their cross-state rivals to two hits in a 10-1 win Saturday afternoon at Hogan Field.

"I've got lots of depth for pitching," Greenslet said. "Most of these kids can play anywhere. Pitching is what's going to carry us. We have a great defense and some kids that are going to throw strikes."

Smith was strong from the jump Saturday and Brattleboro struggled to catch up to his fastball.

He allowed runners on the corners in the first inning, but struck out the other three batters to get out of the jam. Smith used the strikeout to his advantage throughout his outing, fanning eight batters on the day.

Brattleboro pushed its lone run across in the third inning when Kason Gundry scored on a passed ball.

In relief, Tienken faced the minimum. His lone blemish was a walk in the fifth, but that batter ended up being picked off.

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Bennington's bats were stifled in their own right early on, but eventually found their groove later in the game.

Greenslet attributed those early struggles to the big-game jitters, but was happy his team found their way.

"It's a little nerve-wracking for the kids with butterflies this morning," Greenslet said. "[Later in the game], they got settled in and got comfortable. Once they start playing, they forget about everything else."

Heading into the bottom of the third tied 1-1, Aiden Santarcangelo led off with a double. Following a pop out, Carson Andrick walked to put two runners on.

Talin Bartholdi came up next and doubled to drive in two runs. After getting to third, Bartholdi was driven in on a sac fly to shallow right by Aiden Lacasse, putting Bennington up 4-1.

Bennington continued to pile on from there. Seth Greenslet had the big damage in the fourth with a two-run single and Santarcangelo's two-run double in the fifth continued to put the game out of reach with a combined six runs across the last two innings.

Bennington took a 1-0 lead in the best of five series with the win.

"[Winning the first game] gives you your motivation. It gives you your strength and determination to go further," Ryan Greenslet said. "If you get beat in the first game, now you feel like you're digging yourself out of a hole. I think we're in good shape."

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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