June 30, 2011By Mal Boright
The S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball team, with a two-game winning streak in hand, rolls into Montpelier’s Recreation Field Thursday (5:30 p.m.) to tangle with Twin City in a league encounter. The two teams will get together again Saturday (noon) at the Champlain Valley Union High School ball field.
Barring a possible weekend makeup of last Sunday’s postponed contest at the Knights of Columbus South Burlington, the Clover Boys will next tackle the three-day Coopers Cave Tournament in and around Glens Falls, N.Y.
Spirits were high following Tuesday’s dramatic 1-0 home victory over Essex, which brought a 4-0 league record into the contest. Essex also blew out the Irelands, 16-2, in the Junction on June 24.
A huge difference maker this time was right handed hurler Sam Fuller, who made his first start for the Irelands a memorable one. Displaying an artistic change of speeds, plus a baffling, wrinkly curve to go with a solid heater, Fuller limited the Essex batting order to just three scattered singles and one walk. He struck out eight and threw just 77 pitches.
“My arm was tight the first three innings and then it loosened up,” Fuller said after the game.
The game’s lone tally came in the bottom of the second and was unearned. Ireland leadoff batter Sean Rugg’s infield grounder resulted in an overthrow of first base, so Rugg went to second. With one out, Curt Echo lined a shot down the right field line to easily score Rugg.
“I was looking for a fastball and (Sam Spencer, Essex pitcher) gave me one,” said Echo of 1-2 pitch that would decide the drama.
Behind Fuller, right fielder Larry Halvorson had the busiest evening with four catches in the windblown pasture.
Irelands win slugfest
Unlike Tuesday’s pitchers’ duel, Monday’s battle featured the Irelands scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth to top the visiting Vermont Jays from Franklin County, 11-10.
Trailing 10-6 going into their final at bat, the Irelands put together three walks, three singles, a sacrifice fly and a costly two-run throwing error to produce the late heroics. The epic ended when Will Conroy bounced a hard bad hop grounder to deep short to plate Ben St. Clair with the winning run.
The Jays had lit up four Ireland pitchers for 13 hits and 10 walks. Drew Nick working the final 1 1/3 innings to notch the win.
The Clover Boys had hot bats of their own, unlimbering 13 hits. Conroy had four, including two doubles.
A shock and awe show came in the bottom of the third. With the Jays up, 7-3, the Irelands’ Nicky Elderton crashed an 0-2 pitch well over the fence in right center. Rugg, on the very next pitch, unloaded a fence-bouncing double to nearly the same spot.
That brought up Fuller and after taking a strike, the designated hitter sent a rocket shot deep over the fence in center for a two-run Jack. That closed the deficit to 7-6 and signaled a new Jays’ pitcher.
For the game, Rugg had two singles and an RBI double. Elderton had two RBIs.
S.D. Ireland Legion Baseball Schedule
Thursday: at Twin City (Montpelier Recreation Field), 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: TWIN CITY, noon
Tuesday to Thursday: Coopers Cave Tournament, Glens Falls, N.Y
HOME GAMES (CVU FIELD) IN CAPS
Schedule subject to change