Irelands seek late season surge

State tournament looms

July 14, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball aggregation will complete what it hopes is a final surge to a Vermont Legion Tournament slot with games Thursday against Burlington and home fixtures Saturday and Sunday against the Knights of Columbus, South Burlington, and the Orleans-Essex-Caledonia Kings.

The late season league scramble began Monday with an extra-inning, 6-5, upset loss to the Lynx. On Tuesday, the Clover Boys’ game against the OEC Kings at Lyndon State College was postponed with no makeup date as of press time.

The Irelands (11-8 overall, 5-4 league) went into Monday’s game in a good frame of mind. Their three-day visit the previous week to the Coopers Cave Tournament at Glens Falls, N.Y. saw them win three of five games against some high-powered regional competition.
“We played well,” said head coach Jim Neidlinger. “The first two games, which we split, were both well under two hours and we had 14 innings without giving up a walk.”

In a 6-5 victory over Kingston, R.I. on Wednesday (July 6), Drew Nick’s seventh-inning single drove in two runs to give the Irelands a 6-5 victory. Nicky Elderton earned the pitching win with a solid relief effort.

The next day, Larry Halvorson and Evan Healy paced the wrecking crew with three hits each and Dan French provided effective hurling in a 12-5 triumph over Rhode Island’s Hoxie Post.

Westbrook, Maine then limited the Ireland’s to an Elderton homer and Nick RBI double in capturing a 3-2 win.

But in the Green Mountain State on Monday, the Lynx came roaring out of the gate with a four-run first inning and kept the Irelands’ bats quiet just enough to take away the win.
Down 5-0 with two out in the top of the second, Elderton came to the mound from second base and proceeded to shut down the previously batty visitors. The right-hander allowed just four hits and struck out seven over the next 7 1-3 innings.

That fourth hit came in the top of the ninth, a two-out double by Nate Wark plated Glen Campbell with an unearned but winning run. Campbell had reached base on an infield bobble.

Trailing 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh and presumably final frame, the Irelands got to Lynx starter Griffin Rogers with a single and two walks. Rogers was then lifted after throwing 101 pitches. Healy had an RBI single while Curt Echo and Elderton drew RBI walks in a three-run inning that tied the game at 5.

Earlier scoring off Rogers wasn’t easy. One run came in the fourth after a Rogers’ pitch hit Echo and Nick singled. With runners on first and third with no one out, Echo crossed the plate on Sean Rugg’s RBI grounder.

Fuller and Halvorson also had a pair of hits.

S.D. Ireland Legion Baseball Schedule

Thursday: At Burlington Lynx (Burlington High School), 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: OEC KINGS, noon
End regular season