Photo Gallery | Bellows Falls v. Brattleboro: American Legion baseball
WESTMINSTER — On the same day that Buddy Ryan died, Brattleboro's American Legion baseball team played the kind of defense that the former NFL coach would have been proud of.
Shortstop Chris Lasch turned three double plays, catcher Chayse Cunniff threw out a runner attempting to steal, and Leif Bigelow fired a shutout as Post 5 sacked Bellows Falls, 9-0, at Hadley Field.
"I thought our defense was very good. Those double plays were huge," said Brattleboro skipper Eric Libardoni, whose team improved to 12-2 overall and 8-0 in league play. "I thought Sam Ognenoff had a really good game at second base and also Dan Petrie at first base."
The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single from Kassidi Ramirez and made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ognenoff went the other way for a run-scoring double.
"We got some big two-out hits. Those two-out hits were huge for us. Offensively, we have a lot of different players contributing," Libardoni said.
Cunniff opened the top of the fifth with a double, before two-out walks to Petrie and Kam Pelkey loaded the bases. After an error made it 3-0, pinch-hitter Tanner Bell smacked a two-run single to right-center field.
And with the Vernon Town Clerk and Brattleboro's Unified basketball coach among those looking on, Post 5 capped the scoring with four runs in the seventh. Matt Dulmaine had a base knock and Bell brought one in with a groundout to the right side, before Libardoni's club added a pair of unearned runs.
Bigelow, who just finished his sophomore year at BUHS, was in a zone all night long. The ace fanned seven, walked one, hit one batter and gave up just three hits.
"Leif was very dominant," Libardoni said.
Bigelow was in on his team's first twin killing — Petrie (1B) fielded a grounder in the second inning and threw a strike to Lasch (SS), who fired the ball over to his pitcher who was alertly covering first. Brattleboro added a 4-6-3 double play in both the fourth and sixth frames, with Ognenoff and Lasch working well together up the middle each time.
First baseman Josh Woods made the defensive play of the game for the hosts, diving to his right in the second inning to rob Dulmaine of a single and then making the play unassisted. Alex Groenewold, Matt Gendron and Jacob Streeter all hit safely against a defense that was as stingy as Ryan's infamous 46 zone. Bellows Falls (6-2) will face Lakes Region on Thursday.
Ramirez and Dulmaine each had a couple of hits to pace 12-2 Brattleboro, while Lasch, Cunniff, Ognenoff and Bell finished with one hit apiece. Post 5 will go up against Randolph on Thursday.
Chris Lasch SS, Chayse Cunniff C, Leif Bigelow P, Kassidi Ramirez CF, Dan Petrie 1B, Kam Pelkey LF, Matt Dulmaine RF, Chris Hall 3B, Sam Ognenoff 2B. Subs — Ben Betz, Tommy Carroll, Steve Kerylow, Matt Boggio, Tanner Bell, Tyler Germain.
Bellows Falls lineup
Ethan Illingworth C, Alex Groenewold DH, Austin Stack SS, Zach Streeter CF, Joe Corey 2B, Matt Gendron 3B, Kyle Weeks LF, Josh Woods 1B, Jacob Streeter RF, Brady Illingworth P. Subs — Nick Diak, Garrett Andrews, Liam Hackett, Shane Clark, Clayton Groenewold, Jacob Lober, Colby Howe.