Third-inning offense leads Bennington 12U to win
BENNINGTON — Just like it did last Friday in round robin play, Brattleboro struck first against the Bennington 12U little league all-star team in game one of the district championship series.
Having been in this situation before, Bennington wasn't fazed by that early run and its offense woke up mid-game to key a 6-2 win and go up 1-0 in the best-of-three series.
With two outs in the first inning, Brattleboro's Harper Cutler reached on an error by the shortstop and Evan Wright followed with a single off of Bennington starter Vance Kobelia. Kobelia's counterpart, Sam Bogart, got the best of him in the next at-bat and Cutler scored on a single for a run batted in.
Bennington went down 1-2-3 and failed to get the ball out of the infield in its first at-bats. In the second, Ryan Maroney singled and Riley Britch doubled to put runners in scoring position, but Reilly Granger and Bryce Tienken couldn't drive them in.
Tienken hit a hard shot up the middle of the diamond, but Bogart got his glove up to snag it on a nice play.
By that point, Bennington was just about through the lineup one time and it made sure to put up some better at-bats the second time around against Bogart.
No. 9 hitter Colin Brady led off the third inning with a single, followed by a single from Hunter Sherwin. Sean Moriarty came up next and cranked a double to drive in Brady and Kobelia singled on the next at-bat to drive in two more runs.
In the matter of minutes, Bennington went from down a run to up a pair. Bennington added another run, and then with two batters on later in the inning, Colby Hill came up with a pinch hit two-run single to make it 6-1.
That offense was all the home side needed on the day and Bennington coach Derrick Tienken credited that third-inning surge to the adjustments his players made at the plate.
"Our bats came through right after we saw their pitcher for the second time," Derrick Tienken said. "[Sam Bogart] is a little different and doesn't throw real hard, but he keeps you off balance. We were able to open it up, like we can, in the third inning."
Kobelia was by no means perfect for Bennington on the hill, but he kept his team in the game all day long and that was all they could ask for.
"Anyone who saw Vance in game one of our all-star season, he's much more crisp," Derrick Tienken said. "He only gave up two today, but he battled. He wasn't at his best, but that's the true test, when you're not at your best and can still get it done."
Kobelia really settled in after the first-inning run. He allowed three baserunners in the second inning, but never let a runner get past second base.
Two runners got on in the third and one did in the fourth, but nobody advanced past first base on him.
He allowed his second run and three hits in the fifth inning, but he bounced right back for a 1-2-3 affair in the sixth to lock down the complete-game win.
Bennington remains unbeaten in district play and looks to clinch a spot in the state tournament on Saturday when it hosts Brattleboro for game two of the series.
"You can beat them twice in pool play, but 'good job, you've got the No. 1 seed, it doesn't really mean anything,'" Derrick Tienken said. "You get the game one at your place, which is nice, but getting that first game and now only having to win one more at home on Saturday, it's a good feeling."
First pitch is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Hogan Field.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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