S.D. Ireland looks to build off tournament

American Legion squad prepares for league contests

June 23, 2011

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

With a slew of weekend games behind it, including the annual wooden bat wars, the S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team has a relatively light league schedule in the immediate future starting Thursday with a visit to Essex.

That will be followed by a Sunday road encounter with the Knights of Columbus South Burlington, and a return tilt with Essex at the Champlain Valley Union High School home field Tuesday.

Last week’s heavy schedule may have played a role Tuesday when the Irelands got nailed, 16-6, by Addison County in Middlebury. The Irelands popped Addison, 5-1, on June 16 in Hinesburg.

Drew Nick (four hits) helped the Irelands (4-4, 2-2) grab an early 6-0 lead. But Addison unloaded for 13 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take command.

On Monday, the Clover Boys handed the Colchester Cannons their first league defeat of the young season, 10-9, at the CVU ball yard. The rumble almost got away from the Irelands when the Cannons struck for six runs in the top of the seventh and final innings, turning a laugher into a Maalox moment for the victors.

With a 10-3 advantage and needing just three outs, the Irelands saw the pesky Cannons parlayed a series of hits into six runs.

Relief pitcher Nicky Elderton, who was greeted with two singles, got a whiff to retire the side.

Ireland struck early and often with the long ball to build the big edge, with help from starter Sean Rugg’s effective pitching.

Rugg was touched up for three singles in a scoreless first inning but then settled down, allowing just an additional single as he twirled into the sixth. He then gave way to Dan French with two out and two runners on, the result of a hit batter and Rugg’s third walk.
The right-hander said his curve was “inconsistent” but was changing speeds better in the late innings – he struck out three of his four whiff victims in the fifth and sixth innings.

Offensively, the Irelands were in a slugging mood. They cranked out 14 hits, three of which were mighty muscular four-base mashes – two by Larry “The Launcher” Halvorson and one from Elderton.

Halvorson rocketed a three-run smash over the fence in dead center in the first inning for a 4-0 Irelands lead. The right fielder uncorked a two-run belt in the fourth, which followed Elderton’s two-run clout. The fireworks put the home guys up, 10-2.

Third baseman Curt Echo (three singles), Rugg (two hits), Shane DeLaBreure (two hits) and Drew Nick (RBI single and sacrifice fly) also paced the offense.

Ryan Crowley had three hits and two RBIs for the Cannons.

The Irelands went 2-2 in the wooden bat tournament: defeating South Glens Falls, N.Y., 7-2, on June 17 and, 7-0, on June 18; losing, 12-1, to Saratoga, N.Y. and to Lachine, Quebec, 7-2, on June 17.

Dylan Ireland hurled five innings of three-hit ball for the win against South Glens Falls. In the other win, Will Conroy pitched six scoreless innings and smashed an RBI double.

S.D. Ireland Legion Baseball Schedule

Thursday: at Essex (Essex High School) 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: at K of C South Burlington, noon
Tuesday: ESSEX, 5:30 p.m.

HOME GAMES (at Champlain Valley Union High School) IN CAPS
Schedule subject to change