By Reid Crosby
Special to the Observer
The Williston Armadillos repeated as champions in the Vermont Men’s Senior Baseball League, defeating the Charlotte Bison 4-1 Sept. 22 in a rematch of last season’s championship game.
The Bison took the early lead, capitalizing in the second inning on a leadoff error. John Luter (1 for 3) and Colin Green (2 for 3) followed with one-out singles to plate the first run of the game. Armadillos ace Ken Freeman then induced a double play to escape further damage in the inning.
After threatening in the first and third innings, the Armadillos finally broke through in the fourth. Glenn Bombardier reached base on an error to lead off the inning and Bubba Ritchie (1 for 4) followed with a single. Jeff Pecor (1 for 2) advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt before Dann Van Der Vliet plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Armadillos threatened again in the fifth, but Bison starter Gary MacDonald continued to keep them off balance and work out of trouble. Meanwhile, Ken Freeman settled in for Williston, matching zeros with MacDonald.
The bottom of the seventh proved to be the turning point. Tim Kupiec (1 for 2) and Mat Robinson (1 for 3) led off the inning with back-to-back singles for the Armadillos. Todd Tarte followed with a diving two-strike sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with one out. Center fielder and manager Reid Crosby, already three-for-three on the day, was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force play. The tactic worked to the Armadillos’ advantage, however, as Brent Tremblay (3 for 4) laced a line drive to right center, plating Kupiec and Robinson, sending Crosby to third, and ending MacDonald’s day on the mound. Reliever John Luter was greeted with a single to left field by Glenn Bombardier (2 for 4) to plate Crosby, but induced an inning-ended double-play to escape further damage.
With a three run cushion and having only given up singles to Green and Nick Goodreau (1 for 3) since the second inning, Freeman rolled in the eighth and ninth, getting the Bison 1-2-3 in each inning and giving the Armadillos their second straight title.
Williston began the 2013 season strong, starting out 4-0, before injuries started to build up. Glenn Bombardier missed nearly half the season with a knee injury. Then at the end of June, both Greg Bolger and Darby Crum were lost for the season to injury. The team hung together though, winning their last five regular season games before their playoff run, defeating the Bayside Braves in the quarter-finals and the Burlington Cardinals in the semi-finals.
Williston entered the playoffs as the number two seed after finishing in a three-way tie with the Colchester Lakers (1 seed) and the Burlington Cardinals (3 seed).
Chelsea Bat Company won the VTMSBL B division title.