July 16, 2009
On Sunday, the Williston Armadillos’ defense turned a ninth inning, one run lead into a two run lead for their opponent, the 7-3 Killington Saints, though Killington did not record a single hit.
“In the Armadillos’ first season (2003), we had an inning like this. Once the first error was made, it had a cascading effect. Hopefully, it will be six more years before we have another one,“ player/manager Dennis Johnson said.
To make matters worse, the Armadillos, now 10-1, continued to struggle at the plate. Only four players enjoyed multiple hits: second baseman Pete Picard (3-3, 1 RBI), center fielder Ray Danis (2-2, BB, 1 run), third baseman Pookie Martin (2-4, 1 run 1 RBI) and pitcher Bill Supple (2-4, 2B, 1 run).
Things went sour early, as the Saints plated four in the first inning. After Supple got the first two batters, the ump seemed to tighten the strike zone, calling balls on various pitches that the Dillos felt were strikes. After a walk, the next batter tapped a soft grounder to the left of the pitcher. While first baseman Johnson fielded the ball, Supple was late getting to the bag, allowing the runner safe passage. After another walk to the next batter, the next three batters singled as Supple, searching for the strike zone, grooved the ball down the center of the plate.
The lead was cut to 4-1 in the second as Bambino Fitzgerald (1-4, SAC, 2 runs, 1 RBI) reached on an error, moved to third on Picard’s single and scored on Dann Van der Vliet’s (0-2, SAC) sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, the Dillos took a 5-4 lead. Danis singled, Supple doubled and shortstop Greg Bolger (0-2, SAC, BB, 1 RBI) brought home Danis with a sacrifice fly. The Bambino, Jesse Stein (1-3) and Picard then singled, the latter two scoring runners.
Meanwhile, Supple settled into pitching and, after the first inning, shut out the Saints for the next five innings.
“After I allowed a single to the first batter in the second inning, Johnson told me to throw my game, not to change my pitch selection or location, and let the cards fall where they may,” Supple said. “That was good advice.”
Supple pitched six innings, allowing four unearned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out three. Bolger took the hard luck loss, lowering his record to 3-1, though he gave up just two hits and one walk and all three of the runs he rendered during the three innings he pitched were also unearned.
The Dillos saw their 5-4 lead evaporate in the ninth. The first two batters reached base on a walk and an error by Stein, then playing third. The next batter bunted to sacrifice the runners ahead. When Bolger threw to third in time to get the lead runner, Stein dropped the ball, loading the bases. The score was tied when the next batter grounded into a force play at second. The following batter hit a slow grounder toward third and Bolger fielded it and threw home from his knees. Catcher Darby Crum dropped the throw, however, allowing the runner on third to score. When the ball rolled behind Crum on the slide, the runner from first attempted to take third. Crum threw to third, but Stein again misplayed the throw and the runner scampered home to put the Dillos into a two run hole.
On July 19, Williston takes on the Colchester Lakers (6-4) at Williston Central School at noon.
League standings and individual and team statistics are online at www.scorebook.com. Enter “Vermont Senior Baseball League” under league name search.