LYNN, MASS. — The Brattleboro Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star baseball team went 1-2 in the double elimination Regional Tournament.
Connecticut 7, Brattleboro 3
In pool play on Friday, the team from Trumbull, Conn. broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third, then added a single tally in the fifth. Brattleboro battled back in the fifth on a two-run double by Nate Lewis, but Connecticut answered with three more in the sixth. Brattleboro rallied to close the gap to 7-3, as Tyler Millerick singled for the second time and scored on Jeremy Rounds' double, but that was as close as the Vermont champions would get.
"Trumbull is a very strong, well-coached team, pretty clearly the class of our pool, but we hung right with them. Neither team hit the ball that well. The difference was we walked too many guys, and Trumbull was able to capitalize," said Brattleboro manager Patrick Keppel.
Brattleboro 16, New Hampshire 5
Adam Newton scattered five hits in a complete-game effort as Brattleboro beat Somersworth, N.H. via the 10-run rule on Saturday.
New Hampshire broke a scoreless tie with a run in the second, but Brattleboro stormed back with seven runs in the third. Newton and Emmanuel Keppel walked and scored on singles by Tyler Millerick and Jack Price, who both scored on a triple by Jeremy Rounds. Joe Rafus and Bret Worden added run-scoring singles to make the score 7-1. The Granite Staters fought back with three runs in the third and held Brattleboro scoreless in the fourth, but were stymied in the home half thanks to a defensive gem by catcher Kris Carroll, who raced behind home plate to make a sliding catch of a foul pop-up just in front of the backstop.
"Kris's play was the turning point. We were ahead 7-4, but the momentum had clearly shifted. Kris showed intense focus and hustle, chasing down that pop-up, and that really gave us a lift," stated the Brattleboro manager.
Brattleboro erupted with four runs in the fifth, highlighted by hits by Carroll, Nate Lewis, and Keppel, and then added five more runs in the sixth on hits by Hunter Beebe, Kyle Murray and Adam Newton. Logan Morton and Grady Derosia also walked and scored for Brattleboro, who evened their record in pool play at 1-1.
"Adam pitched great the whole game, and the hitters really put the pressure on, getting in good hitters counts and running the bases well. It was a real confidence boosting win for us as a team," manager Keppel said.
Rhode Island 2, Brattleboro 0
Brattleboro finished pool play at 1-2, dropping a close, well-played game on Sunday that featured an intense pitching duel between Brattleboro's Joe Rafus and North Providence's Andre Solis. Rafus pitched a complete game and didn't allow a hit until the sixth, striking out two and relying on his defense to make plays. Adam Newton made two outstanding plays in the second, including a leaping grab of a liner to end the inning.
"Joe was great. He only allowed three hits total and mostly induced a lot of weak contact. Adam played a brilliant shortstop in all six games of our tournament run. He made all the routine plays and several terrific ones too. I didn't see anyone better," Keppel stated.
After Rhode Island grabbed a lead with a run in the third on a couple of walks and errant throws, Brattleboro sought to even the score in the fourth. Tyler Millerick opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a wild pickoff throw. Jack Price then did his job by moving the runner to third with a ground ball to first, but Solis stiffened, striking out Jeremy Rounds and Hunter Beebe to end the threat. Solis fanned seven in his four innings of work.
"The Rhode Island pitcher was tough. He threw hard but also kept us off balance with off-speed stuff. He did a particularly good job finishing batters with two strikes, which made it hard to get anything going."
The score remained 1-0 until the sixth. With one out, Rhode Island loaded the bases, and second baseman Tom Krikonian hit a liner to left-center. Center fielder Jeremy Rounds raced in to make a lunging grab, but the runner from third scored. However, Brattleboro avoided further damage when they were successful on an appeal that the runner tagging at second left too early.
"That was a key play — first that Jeremy made the catch and second that (coach) Chris Millerick caught the baserunner's mistake. Really kept us in the game," noted Keppel.
Still, Brattleboro's bats remained silent through the fifth and sixth against reliever Eric Estrella, managing only a single by Emmanuel Keppel. But then in the seventh, with their backs against the wall, the team stirred to life. Jack Price led off with a single, and Rounds reached on an error. Hunter Beebe launched a deep drive to left, but the Rhode Island left fielder managed to make a staggering catch. An errant pickoff throw almost resulted in two runs when the Rhode Island center fielder airmailed his throw to third, but the ball hit the top railing of the stands and bounded back to the third baseman.
"That was really the difference in the game. We made a similar throw and it cost us a run, but theirs came right back to the field. Just a bad break for us," said Keppel.
Kris Carroll then walked to load the bases, but reliever Christian Mantenese fanned Joe Rafus for the second out. Pinch hitter Kyle Murray then smoked a ball ticketed for left-center and a tie game, but the Rhode Island shortstop made a leaping grab to end the game and move his team into the semifinals.
"That was a tough loss that stings, but it was a great game too. It could easily have gone either way," stated Keppel. "I could tell before the game that our team now believed they belonged in the Regionals, and they really went out and proved that they could play with anyone. We coudn't be more proud of them."