BRATTLEBORO — It was a good thing that Brattleboro Fire Department Captain David Emery arrived in the latter stages of Friday’s Division 1 baseball quarterfinal at Tenney Field.
After all, Zinabu McNeice was en fuego.
The pitcher threw five shutout innings, made a couple of difficult catches in foul territory and also singled as the third-ranked Colonels rallied to beat No. 6 Colchester 3-2.
“He wasn’t as sharp as usual and he fell behind in the count a lot, but he continually battled his way out,” BUHS skipper Chris Groeger said of his ace, who fanned two, walked four, and scattered six hits.
McNeice somehow got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first frame. Catcher Turner Clews made a nice scoop at the plate for the first out and then shortstop Alex Bingham started an inning-ending double play.
“Way to go Z!” one spectator shouted as others clapped during the middle of the first.
The Lakers would take a 2-0 lead in the third inning via a two-run single to center by Jack Talbot.
Brattleboro, which entered the contest with a 10-1 mark, pulled even in the fifth. Aaron Petrie doubled to left, McNeice dumped a single into center, Jack Pattison drew a walk to load the bases, and then Clews drove in a couple of runs with a laser to left.
“I told him to ‘jump on the first fastball you see’ and he did,” Groeger later mentioned.
It was about that time that Captain Emery arrived on the scene to cheer the Colonels on.
After Brattleboro’s Alex Kurucz drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, pinch-runner Henry Thurber would score the game-winning run on a double to deep left by Brandon Weeks.
“I had just gotten on him for swinging at a ball when he was up 2-0 in the count,” Groeger recalled.
McNeice would exit to a standing ovation with two outs in the seventh. Bingham hit a batter and then induced a groundout to pick up the save.
“We are the last team standing in the south in Division 1. We want to do this area proud and also represent our league well,” Groeger noted.
Petrie, McNeice, Pattison, Clews, Bingham and Weeks all had one hit for the winners.
The 11-1 Colonels will play at No. 2 Essex (13-3) in Tuesday’s semifinal at 4:30 p.m.
Colchester lineup: Ben Knapp LF, Mike Mansfield P, Bryce Carey C, Colby Fane-Cushing CF, Jack Talbot RF, Brody Stannard SS, Cannan Barrows 3B, Ben Valley 1B, Colby Beaupre 2B.
Brattleboro lineup: Aaron Petrie CF, Zinabu McNeice P, Jack Pattison DH (for Aaron Slade LF), Turner Clews C, Greg Fitzgerald 2B, Caden Wood RF, Alex Bingham SS, Alex Kurucz 1B, Brandon Weeks 3B.