July 7, 2011By Mal Boright Observer correspondent
After playing its way into Northern Division playoff contention, the 5-3 (league play) S. D. Ireland American Legion baseball team took time from division action this week to engage in some high powered regional competition in the annual Cooper’s Cave Tournament in and around Glens Falls, N.Y. The three-day tournament began Tuesday.
A busy 72 hours were on the tournament docket with a pair of games Tuesday, one contest Wednesday and another twin bill on Thursday.
The Irelands, who have a four-game winning streak in league action, will return to league play on Monday against the Burlington Lynx at the Champlain Valley Union High School field (5:30 p.m.). On Tuesday, they will travel to Lyndon State College to tangle with the Orleans-Essex-Caledonia Kings.
A previously postponed game against the Knights of Columbus South Burlington will be made up Wednesday at South Burlington High School.
Despite one-hit, shutout victories over Twin City on June 30 in Montpelier and July 2 at home, coach Jim Neidlinger had the squad run a few “motivational” laps following the latter 10-0 victory that ended in the bottom of the seventh via the mercy rule.
‘We were flat coming into the game and in this league we just can’s afford anything but our best,” the former Los Angeles Dodger relief pitcher said.
Neidlinger also was concerned about the New York tournament, where the competition is usually at a higher level.
“If we play well we will be competitive. If we don’t play well, we will be in trouble in a hurry,” he added.
There was no trouble in the 10-0 win over Twin City on July 2. Dan French made his first start of the season a solid one. The right-hander gave up only a third inning single. He fanned seven and walked four.
“I had a good breaking pitch today,” he said after the game, noting that it was his first lengthy pitching stint in more than a month.
Shane DeLaBreure came in from the outfield to work a one-two-three seventh.
The Irelands took a 5-0 lead after five innings on just two hits (singles by Jeff Badger and Drew Nick) but they drew eight walks. Twin City also hurt its cause with two hit batsmen and four errors.
Sock-it-to-em time finally came in the sixth when three hits led to four more tallies. Nicky Elderton blasted an RBI double to deep center and Sam Fuller punched an RBI single.
With the Irelands up 9-0 in the bottom of the seventh, DeLaBreure and Josh St. Claire led off with singles. After Tucker Kohlasch got hit by a pitch to load the bases, Elderton lifted a sacrifice fly to plate DeLaBreure with the run that ended the game.
In Montpelier on June 30, Nick fashioned his one-hitter in a 7-0 triumph. He whiffed 10 and walked one.
Nick (two hits, three RBIs) and Elderton (two hits, two RBIs) paced the offense.
S. D. IRELAND LEGION BASEBALL SCHEDULE
Thursday: two games at Coopers Cave tournament, Glens Falls, N.Y.
Monday: BURLINGTON LYNX, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday: at OEC Kings (Lyndon State College), 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday: at K of C South Burlington (South Burlington High School), 5:30 p.m.
HOME GAMES (AT CVU) IN CAPS
Schedule subject to change