Post 5 wins home opener
BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro American Legion baseball team started its home opener shorthanded, with a handful of players missing the first four innings because of a spring football practice.
It didn't matter.
Jeremy Rounds imitated an option quarterback when he pitched the ball toward second base to start a double play and Joey Rafus looked a lot like a fullback in the open field on a triple to right as Post 5 sacked Bennington 11-2 on Wednesday.
"I'm happy with the way we're swinging the bats," said Brattleboro coach Eric Libardoni, whose team was coming off of a doubleheader split in Colchester.
The hosts opened up a 6-0 lead in the first two frames, thanks to a run-scoring single from Jack Price, a two-run double by Rounds, and a three-bagger off the bat of Rafus.
Catcher Dan Petrie, who provided the power for the BUHS team that reached the Division 1 semifinals last season, drove one right at an outfielder and then delivered an RBI groundout in his first two plate appearances.
"It's nice to have Dan back," Libardoni said of the 2018 high school graduate.
Bennington would draw a couple of RBI walks in the fifth frame to get within 6-2. A leadoff single by Casper Rowe was the only hit for the visitors during the rally.
Brattleboro then sealed it with a five-run sixth. Alex Kendall and Chris Frost each contributed with a two-run single during the surge.
Rounds and the 14-year-old Forrester Avard combined for a four-hitter. The veteran starter fanned four, walked six and allowed three hits in five innings of work for the home team, while the young reliever pitched a couple of scoreless frames.
Avard's cheering section was encouraging the eighth grader from the bleachers near the Bennington dugout. They were loving it when he hustled to make a catch in foul ground while playing third base and also making noise as he made big pitches in the later innings.
"Our pitching staff is a bunch of guys who haven't thrown a lot of innings, so we will have to keep a close eye on that," mentioned the Post 5 skipper, whose team improved to 2-1 overall. "I thought our pitching was pretty good today. We just can't walk two or three batters in an inning."
Rounds, Adam Newton (SS) and Rafus (1B) teamed up for a double play in the fourth. Tyler Millerick (2B) snagged a liner in the seventh and then threw to Price (1B) for a twin killing that ended the game.
"Our defense was really good today. We didn't make any errors. We are moving in the right direction," Libardoni stated.
Newton finished with a couple of hits to power the winners, while Rounds, Rafus, Petrie, Jack Pattison, Price, Kendall and Frost all hit safely. Alex Bingham and Christian Thomsen each contributed with a sacrifice bunt.
Caleb Hay, Jack Lane, Casper Rowe and Pat McDonald all ended up with one hit for the visitors. McDonald made the defensive play of the day in the fourth — shifting to his left and then laying out to catch a screamer.
Rafus will take the hill when 2-1 Brattleboro hosts Bennington on Thursday night at 5:30.
Bennington lineup: Brodie Krawczyk C, Chandler Pouk 3B, Tanner King 1B, Caleb Hay DH (for Dylan Babson P), Jack Lane CF, Will Buck 2B, Andrew Stevens LF, Pat McDonald SS, Casper Rowe RF.
Brattleboro lineup: Jeremy Rounds P, Joe Rafus 1B, Dan Petrie C, Adam Newton SS, Jack Pattison 2B, Christian Thomsen LF, Evan Finnell RF, Jack Price CF, Alex Bingham 3B. Subs — Tyler Millerick, Alex Kendall, Forrester Avard, Aaron Petrie, Chris Frost.
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