ALTON'S BRIAN BORELLI prepares to field the ball as Plymouth's Thomas Rhatigan takes his lead in action Saturday in Alton. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 21, 2014ALTON — With a spot in the state tournament on the line, the Morin Insurance Alton Junior Legion team and the Post 66 Durand-Haley Rangers Plymouth Junior Legion team squared off in a doubleheader at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton on Saturday.
And in the end, it was Alton coming away with its first-ever playoff berth, as the Morin Insurance squad swept the doubleheader by 5-4 and 7-4 scores.
The opening game saw Plymouth jump out to a 3-0 lead, but as they have shown all season, Alton's boys bounced back and were able to take a 5-3 lead. Plymouth cut the lead to 5-4, but could not get the tying run home and the win clinched the playoff berth for Alton.
"We made two crucial errors," Plymouth coach Tom Underwood stated. "Four of their five runs were on walks or errors."
"As soon as we get started, good things happen," Alton coach Bubba Noyes stated, referencing his team's traditional slow starts. "We were a little stale because we took the whole week off."
After the teams enjoyed pizza, generously provided by the umpires, they headed back on to the field for game two, with Will Treuel getting the ball for Alton and Jake Scheinman taking the hill for Plymouth.
Once again, Plymouth was able to get out to an early lead, plating two runs in the first inning. Tyler Mersch led off with an infield hit and Sam Slaughter followed with a base hit. A Ben Rexford base hit drove in Mersch with the game's first run and put runners on first and second. However, a 4-3 double play started by Christian Parenteau got Treuel two big outs in the frame. A wild pitch allowed Slaughter to scamper home with the second run and Aaron Evans reached on an error to keep the inning going. However, Treuel made a nice play on a pop up behind the mound to close out the inning.
Alton answered with one run in the bottom of the first inning. Treuel led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Drew Nickerson put down a bunt and reached when the ball was mishandled. Nickerson was gunned down on a double steal, but Treuel came home with the first run of the game. Scheinman then induced a groundout and got a strikeout to get out of the inning.
Plymouth put two more runners on in the second. Bobby Merrill was hit by a pitch to open the inning, but a 6-4-3 double play, in which Brian Borelli made a great second effort at first to corral a wild throw, got two quick outs. Thomas Rhatigan walked, but a grounder to short ended the inning.
Alton tied the game in the bottom of the second. Brandon Parenteau reached on an error, Sam Borelli walked and Connor Loan's base hit loaded the bases. One out later, Christian Parenteau drove home his brother with a grounder to short, tying the game. Scheinman got out of the inning with a fly ball to left.
Treuel worked around a Slaughter infield hit in the top of the third and Alton took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Nickerson reached on an error and Brian Borelli beat out an infield hit, taking second on the play. Brandon Parenteau worked a walk and a Sam Borelli fly ball to center, on which Sam Meau made a fantastic sliding catch, allowed the go-ahead run to score. Loan worked a walk and a wild pitch plated the second run of the inning for Alton. A base hit from Daniel Labelle drove home two more runs for a 6-2 lead for Alton before the inning ended.
Sam Borelli took over on the hill in the top of the fourth and got some defensive help from Brandon Parenteau, who made a nice catch in center field. He also worked around a two-out double by Cole Donovan.
Alton added one in the bottom of the fourth. Brian Borelli led off with a base hit, but he was forced on a grounder to third by Jay Warthen. After Brandon Parenteau reached on an error, Sam Borelli's infield hit allowed Warthen to score the seventh run. Anthony Chiaccola worked a walk, but Alton couldn't plate any more runs.
Slaughter reached on an error in the top of the fifth, but he was stranded and both Christian Parenteau and Brian Borelli reached in the bottom of the inning, but they were stranded thanks to a nice catch by Mersch at second base.
Plymouth got a leadoff double from Evans in the sixth, but he was left on base. Chiaccola had a base hit in the bottom of the inning, but he was eventually gunned down stealing third by Plymouth catcher Adam Martinese.
Plymouth put together a rally in the seventh. Dylan Donahue led off with a base hit and Mersch reached on an error. A Slaughter base hit loaded the bases and a Rexford base hit made it 7-3. Nickerson took over on the mound for Alton and struck out the first batter he faced. Evans grounded to David Nickerson at third, driving in a run, but forcing Slaughter at third. Brian Borelli made a nice scoop of a throw from short to close out the 7-4 win for Alton.
Noyes was pleased with the way his team stepped up this year to earn the playoff bid.
"They are a year older and we had some good additions to the team," the Alton coach stated.
He also praised the Borelli brothers, as both entered games in relief and pitched solidly the rest of the way, also pointing to the team's versatility.
"I can move players and you don't lose much," the veteran coach noted. It was needed on Saturday, as Dillon Barnes took a bad bounce to the face and had to come out of the game. Treuel and Hunter Sanborn collided in shallow center and though they both stayed in originally, both eventually left the second game.
Noyes also praised Underwood's work at the Durand-Haley helm.
"To beat a Tom Underwood team twice in one day, that's the first time doing that at any level," Noyes said. "Any time you can compete against a team he coaches, that's good."
The Plymouth coach echoed the good feelings toward his Alton counterpart.
"If someone from our district is going to the playoffs, I'm glad it's Bubba's team," Underwood stated. "They've worked hard."
The state tournament begins on Friday, July 25, at Gill Stadium in Manchester. Alton will take on Rochester at 12:30 p.m. The winner plays on Saturday at 6 p.m., while the losing team plays on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The double-elimination tournament continues through Tuesday.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org