RYAN GIBBS heads back to first in a rundown during Saturday’s season finale. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 23, 2012ALTON — As far as endings go, it couldn't have gone much better for the Alton Post #72 Legion baseball team on Saturday.
The local kids played host to Lebanon and put together a big third inning and held on for a 12-8 win to close out the season on a positive note.
"It was a real tough season," coach Gary Noyes said. "A lot of players or teams would've packed it in, but the majority of players stuck with it and I certainly want to thank them for that."
The win was just the team's second win of the season, though the team did drop a couple of close games along the way.
Saturday's finale featured a pretty quick two and a half innings to get things going. Ryan Gibbs got the start on the hill and struck out two in the first inning and one each in the second and third. He pitched around a pair of walks in the second and got a nice play from Scott Conner at first to open the third.
The Alton bats, after going in order in the first two innings, came to life in the bottom of the third with the bottom of the order getting things going.
Spencer Goossens walked to lead off the inning and took second on a wild pitch. One out later, Brian Borelli drew a walk. One out later, a Zac Carr base hit loaded the bases and Ethan Henderson drew a walk to plate the game's first run. Gibbs followed with a base hit to drive in two more runs and a Cody Symonds double plated another run. Andrew Hederman followed with a base hit to drive in both Gibbs and Symonds for a 6-0 lead before the inning came to a close.
Lebanon fought back in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of three walks, an error and a couple of hits, but a diving catch in center by Nate Farnham and a 4-6-3 double play turned by Carr, Henderson and Conner helped Gibbs get out of the inning still holding a 6-3 lead.
Alton came right back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Farnham led off with a walk and scored on a one-out double by Conner. One out later, Henderson had a base hit, compounded by an error, allowing Conner to score. Gibbs walked and Henderson scored on a pickoff error for a 9-3 lead.
Henderson took over on the hill in the top of the fifth inning and got a nice grab from Goossens in right field to help work around a base hit and a walk.
Alton added a couple more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Farnham beat out a two-out infield hit and John Barnes walked. Conner then doubled down the left field line, bringing both runners around to score. Carr walked to put two runner on, but they were both stranded.
Lebanon got one run back in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of a walk, a stolen base, an error and a double steal.
Hederman and Goossens had base hits in the bottom of the inning, but they were both stranded. Lebanon plated two runs in the top of the seventh on a couple of errors and a walk. Hederman took over on the hill in the top of the eighth and gave up two more runs, as a couple of hits and a walk plagued the Alton hurler.
However, Alton came back with a run in the bottom of the inning. Gibbs started the inning with a one-out base hit and Symonds was hit by a pitch. Hederman reached on an error to load the bases and Goossens drew a walk to push the run across.
Hederman got the first two outs of the ninth and Noyes then went to Conner, hoping to reward him for his dedication the last couple of years. After giving up a walk to the first batter he faced, he got a pop up to end the game.
Conner, who comes all the way from Conway for every game, earned the veteran coach's praise for a great game and a great couple of seasons.
"The amount of dedication Scott's given to me is fantastic," Noyes said. "And he had an outstanding day today."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126