Bennington knocks S. D. Ireland out of Legion state tourney

July 28, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent
S.D. Ireland’s Dan French delivers a pitch during his team’s 5-3 loss to Colchester in the Vermont American Legion championship tournament on Sunday (July 24). Bennington eliminated the Irelands from the double-elimination tourney on Monday. (Observer photo by Shane Bufano)

The S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team returned to its northern home base early this week after falling to Vermont tournament finalist Bennington, 4-0, Monday at Castleton State College.

It was a swell beginning and a disappointing ending for the Irelands, who won their first two games in the eight-team double elimination event on Friday and Saturday. S.D. was then nipped by Colchester, 5-3, Sunday before being eliminated by Bennington, the southern division champ.

Bennington, a perfect 16-0 in the regular season, got a three-hit, eight-strikeout outing from pitcher Tyler Kunzmann. The Ireland knocks came from the bats of Larry “The Launcher” Halverson, Drew Nick and Tucker Kohlasch. On the mound, Nicky Elderton threw a complete game.

Halvorson was the Ireland’s clouter-in-chief for the tournament. He unloaded eight hits, including a pair of doubles and four RBIs in the four games.

In their loss to the Cannons on Sunday, the Clover Guys did not go quietly into the good sunset. Trailing 5-1 in the ninth, they rallied for two runs and had the bases loaded before Zach Tandy, Colchester High School’s pitching ace this past spring, came in to shut the door. Tandy walked Nick to bring in the third run before getting a strike out and fly out.

Nick and Jeff Badger each produced a pair of hits and an RBI. Halvorson stroked a two-bagger.

The Irelands opened the tournament Friday at St. Peter’s Field in Rutland after getting the north’s third seed with a regular season 10-4 record. They rolled to a 7-2 win over Brattleboro, the south’s second seed with a 13-3 mark.

Sam Fuller, who tossed a three-hit, shutout victory over northern co-champ Essex in a regular season highlight, worked eight innings and allowed 12 hits but also fanned 12 batters. Halvorson smashed three hits including a triple and double. Nick, Badger and Sean Rugg each rocked a pair of bingles.

Rugg got the mound victory on Saturday when the Irelands unloaded eight runs on Essex in the first three frames, and coasted to a 15-5 triumph. Halvorson continued his sweet swinging with three hits and three RBIs. Curt Echo uncorked three hits and two RBIs. Essex chipped in nine walks and five miscues.