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Late inning heroics lead Post #72 to first win

DAVE HERSEY tags out a Concord runner at the plate in action on June 30. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 04, 2011
ALTON — It was a badly-needed win and it couldn't have come in a more dramatic fashion.

The Alton Post #72 Legion Baseball team scored three runs in the final two innings to overcome a 3-1 deficit against Plymouth on Friday, July 1, and walked off with a 4-3 victory for the first win of the season.

"A couple of things went our way," coach Gary Noyes said.

Two of those things came in the final two innings. Sean Perley cranked a homer over the fence in right centerfield to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning and Joey Grasso's speed down the first base line forced the Plymouth shortstop into a throwing error, allowing Cody Symonds to score the winning run after some daring base running and two key walks in the bottom of the ninth.

Andrew Hederman got the start on the mound for Alton and sent Plymouth down in order in the top of the first, allowing Post #72 to take an early lead.

Grasso beat out a bunt for a base hit to lead off the game and one out later, stole second. Perley was hit by a pitch with two outs and Dave Hersey's base hit drove in Grasso with the game's first run.

Hederman sent Plymouth down in order in the top of the second and Alton quickly put two runners on in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Gibbs had a base hit and Hederman walked with one out, but a double play got Plymouth out of the inning.

Hederman gave up a walk in the top of the third, but stranded the runner with a strikeout and a popup. Perley had a base hit with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but he was also stranded.

Plymouth finally got on the board in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff base hit, Plymouth's Chandler Grisham lined a two-run homer over the fence in left to put Plymouth up by a 2-1 score. Hederman gave up two more hits, but a nicely turned double play by Perley got him out of trouble before any more runs could score.

Alton went quietly in the bottom of the fourth and Plymouth put two more runners on in the top of the fifth, only to leave them on the bases. Alton went in order in the fifth as well. Hederman set down Plymouth in order in the sixth, but had some defensive help, as Hersey made a great scoop at first base and Jeff Runnals made a great running catch in center.

Hersey had another base hit in the sixth, but he was stranded and Plymouth came back with another in the seventh. After getting one out and surrendering a base hit in the seventh, Hederman was replaced on the hill by Gibbs and an error allowed a run to score, but Gibbs got a force out and a pop up to end the inning with Plymouth up 3-1.

Alton went quietly in the seventh and Gibbs got a little defensive help from Spencer Goossens in right to end the eighth, but in the bottom of the eighth, Alton sprung to life.

Grasso doubled to start the inning and it appeared his hit would be wasted, as the next two batters couldn't reach. However, Perley lined a shot over the fence in right centerfield to tie the game at three heading to the ninth.

Goossens made a diving catch heading to the fence in right centerfield for the first out of the ninth. After Gibbs walked the next two, he got a strikeout for the second out. The next batter lined a shot into the right centerfield gap. Grasso got a bead on it and tracked it down with a diving catch to end the inning.

Scott Conner led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk and Symonds took over at first base. Gibbs moved him up with a nice sacrifice bunt. Goossens then grounded back to the mound and Symonds broke for third. He slid in as the ball was arriving and was able to knock it away from the Plymouth third baseman's glove. Kevin Radcliffe then drew a walk and Grasso followed with a ground ball up the middle. The Plymouth shortstop fielded the ball and looked like he wanted to go to first, but saw Grasso hustling up the line and instead tried to force Radcliffe at second. His throw caught the second baseman off guard and sailed wide and Symonds touched the plate with the winning run.

Noyes noted there were a lot of things that contributed to the win.

"Gibbs came in and shut the door a little bit," the Alton coach said. "Sean's two-run shot was huge and Cody, if he didn't slide hard, he's out. He slid hard enough to knock it out of his glove.

"Andrew pitched well for us, he threw strikes," Noyes continued. "And Spencer and Joey had those great catches."

He also praised Conner and Radcliffe for their great at bats in the ninth inning.

It was a big win for Alton, as they had come close against Plaistow the previous weekend and against Concord a day earlier.

"We kind of handed it to Concord, so this team needed it," Noyes said. "We very well could've beaten Plaistow and Concord."

He also praised Hederman's work on the mound as integral in keeping the team in the game.

"He kept them off balance and kept the ball low," Noyes said. "He stayed ahead of hitters for the most part."

Alton met up with undefeated Concord on Thursday, June 30, and appeared to be in control for most of the game, only to see a couple of mistakes come back to haunt them late.

After Concord scored one in the first off of starter Slayd Dore, Alton responded in a big way.

Runnals had a one-out base hit and Jake Biscoe walked. Runnals took third on an interference call and one out later, Dore doubled to plate the tying run. Hersey followed with a double to bring home two runs. Back-to-back hits by Micale Vachon and Conner plated another run and Alton had a 4-1 lead after one.

Dore pitched around and error and two walks in the second, striking out two in the frame, but Alton went in order in the bottom of the second.

Concord came back to tie the game in the third, taking advantage of a pair of walks and a couple of hits. An error allowed them to get out of the inning with a lead, though Chad Peterson and Hersey combined for a nice 5-2 out to prevent another run from scoring.

Alton came back in the bottom of the third, taking the lead back. Perley led off with a base hit and Dore and Hersey followed with base hits, plating the tying run. After a sacrifice bunt from Vachon, Conner grounded to second, scoring Dore with the go-ahead run and a 6-5 lead.

Concord went in order in the fourth and Alton added some more runs in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Runnals had a base hit and Jake Biscoe reached on a fielder's choice. A balk moved both runners up and Perley doubled to right field to plate both for an 8-5 lead.

Concord came back with three in the fifth inning, taking advantage of a couple of walks along the way. For the first time, however, Alton wasn't able to answer the Concord runs, despite a leadoff double from Gibbs in the fifth.

Concord then added two more runs in the top of the sixth despite a nice play from Ethan Henderson at second base and a nice grab from Runnals in center. An error played a crucial role in allowing the runs to score.

Concord added another run in the seventh against Henderson and Alton couldn't get the offense back on track. Goossens had a base hit in the seventh and was eliminated in a double play and Henderson and Hersey had hits in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs, but the rally fell short and Concord took the 11-8 win.

"We beat ourselves today," Noyes said. "There was a lot of mental mistakes.

"We did not make a few routine plays, it's that simple," he continued.

Noyes was happy to see the offense finally come through and was pleased with the workmanlike effort from Dore, who threw more than 130 pitches over his six innings.

"We had some sore arms so we had to leave him in there a little longer, but he did get stronger as the game went on," Noyes said. "He pitched fantastic."

The week ended with a tough 12-2 loss at Exeter on Saturday.

"They're as good as they always are," Noyes said. "They always have some college players that come back and play. They're a good club."

Alton did score first, putting a run on the board in the first. Runnals had a base hit, stole second and scored on a base hit by Henderson.

Alton scored its other run in the fifth. Hederman walked, moved up on a passed ball and scored on a base hit by Runnals.

Runnals, Henderson and Perley all had two hits for Post #72.

Henderson got the start on the mound and went three innings and Perley finished the final three.

Alton will be in action today, July 7, at 5:15 p.m. at home against Exeter. On Saturday, July 9, Portsmouth visits for a 2 p.m. game and on Sunday, July 10, Raymond comes to town for a 2 p.m. contest. Dover visits Alton on Tuesday, July 12, for a 5 p.m. game.

"It's a busy week, the pitchers will get some work," Noyes said.

Martin Lord Osman
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