June 25, 2009
By Mal Boright
The wooden bat tournament found the S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team with soft lumber in four home weekend games against tough out-of-state opposition (Saratoga, N.Y. emerged from the tournament with a season record of 17-1 and still was not champion), but the Clover Boys returned to in-state division foes Monday and Tuesday with some success.
Observer photo by Greg Duggan
S.D. Ireland pitcher Ryan Machavern lets go of a pitch during Tuesday’s game against Essex. Essex took the contest, 7-3.
With metal bats back in use, the locals bumped off Addison 6-4 Monday at the Champlain Valley Union High field, but then fell to visiting Essex on Tuesday by a 7-3 count.
The Irelands return to action on the road Thursday at Knights of Columbus, South Burlington at Dorset Park. They travel to Waterbury for a 1 p.m. Sunday contest and will be home on Tuesday against the Colchester Cannons.
After losing all four weekend games to the out-of-state visitors, the Irelands take a 2-1 in-state mark into the South Burlington match.
Late Essex scores down Irelands
Essex, with a number of players from high school Division 1 runner-up Essex High, broke open an otherwise tight contest with three runs in the top of the fifth and a trio more in the top of the seventh.
Ireland righty Sean Rugg hurled well in a 1-1 tie until Essex got to him in the fifth for a leadoff single, followed by Geoff Green’s RBI double to the gap in left center. Dave Valley’s ribbie single off reliever Andy Kent and a sacrifice fly capped the three run inning.
Jordan Armstrong’s run-producing double cut the Essex lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, but Essex struck for its three in the top of the seventh on a pair of doubles and two singles.
Essex lefty Aaron Plunkett gave up a final run in the seventh, finishing a complete game six-hitter, walking seven and striking out eight while tossing 123 pitches. Plunkett’s hard stuff created plenty of smack in his catcher’s mitt and he mixed in the occasional bender.
Ireland second baseman Anthony Detoma socked a pair of singles for the second straight game to pace the home guys’ attack.
Montani closes out Addison
In downing Addison on Monday, the Irelands came from a 3-2 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, keyed by Kent’s clutch two-out, two-run single. Kent came around to score as a result of a pair of Addison infield errors.
Down 5-3 in the top of the sixth, Addison got a run back on a triple and a two-out RBI single.
Ireland coach Jim Neidlinger then called in big lefty Shane Montani, a familiar presence at first base. With runners at first and second, Montani forced a 3-1 ground out to end the frame.
It got dicey in the top of the seventh with the Irelands ahead 6-4. With one out, Addison loaded the bases on an infield single and close call at first, an infield error and walk.
Montani then went to his windup, which he agrees gives him an additional yard on his fastball, and whiffed the next two batters to get the save.
“That was my first time as a closer,” Montani said later.
Justin Raymond was the Ireland’s swatter of the day with a game leadoff triple, two singles and a walk in four appearances. He scored two runs.
Curt Echo hurled two-plus innings in relief of starter Theron Fuller to pick up the victory.