Farmington stunned by North Country in finals



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AJ VALLADARES gets down a bunt during action against North Country in tournament action last week. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 18, 2011
NEW DURHAM — The Farmington Babe Ruth All-Stars had the easy job last week.

After winning their first two games of the District Five tournament over the previous weekend, the Farmington kids had a couple of days off to sit and wait for another team to qualify to play them in the final.

During the week, Mount Washington Valley, North Country and Twin Rivers battled it out, with a couple of thrillers along the way, before North Country emerged victorious in a continued game on Wednesday afternoon in New Durham.

That meant that the team from the northern part of the state had to turn right around, shortly after finishing its win over Mount Washington Valley and take on Farmington.

The short layoff helped the North Country boys, as they put a run on the board in the very first inning, with a pair of Farmington errors helping out. A double play helped Farmington starter Kevin Radcliffe get out of trouble in that frame.

Radcliffe then helped his own cause in the bottom of the first inning, as he blasted a two-run homer over the fence in left field, scoring David Ford ahead of him for a 2-1 lead.

Radcliffe gave up a hit and a walk in the top of the second inning, but he got through that by getting a pair of strikeouts. Farmington then added two more runs in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Connor Leahy walked, but he was forced at second on a grounder by Travis Drapeau. Kevin Poulin followed with a double and Cody Symonds was hit by a pitch. AJ Valladares followed with a base hit to plate two more runs for a 4-1 lead.

North Country came back with a run in the top of the third to cut the lead to 4-2, but Radcliffe came up big again with his bat, rocking a homer to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Brandon Hilman followed with an infield hit and John Barnes reached on an error, but neither scored.

Radcliffe gave up a walk to open the fourth, but struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning. Poulin reached on an error to open the fourth, but he was stranded and North Country began its comeback in the top of the fifth. They plated a run on a hit, an error and a groundout to cut the lead to 5-3 and then really turned it on in the top of the sixth, plating five runs in the inning, taking advantage of an error and a pair of triples, as well as a walk and a base hit to take an 8-5 lead.

Poulin walked with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but he was stranded and with rain and thunder and lightning working through the area, the umpires made the call to stop the game and the teams had to return to New Durham at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

North Country scored another run in the top of the seventh to make it 9-5 with three outs to go for Farmington. Valladares walked to lead off the inning and then stole second, but he was stranded as North Country took the 9-5 victory. With the North Country win, the two teams had to play again shortly after finishing.

In the second game, Farmington got a bunt hit from Hilman with one out in the top of the second, but he was gunned down trying to steal second and North Country came back and took the lead in the bottom of the inning, using a walk, a stolen base and a base hit to take a 1-0 lead.

Farmington threatened in the top of the third. Greg Merkey led off with a double and one out later, Poulin singled. Symonds walked to load the bases, but Merkey was forced at the plate on a grounder to third by Valladares.

Poulin, who got the start on the hill for Farmington, gave up a hit in the bottom of the third, but struck out the final batter to get out of the inning. Radcliffe then led off the top of the fourth with a double and Merkey beat out an infield hit, but both runners were stranded.

North Country pushed across another run in the bottom of the fourth, though Valladares made a nice play to tag a runner out at home for the inning's second out. That gave Farmington the chance to come back.

With two outs in the top of the fifth, Valladares reached on an error and Ford lined a base hit. Radcliffe followed with a base hit to make it 2-1 and Hilman reached on an error to load the bases. Barnes walked to bring home the tying run.

North Country came back with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking advantage of an error to plate the go-ahead run. A solid play from Poulin and Valladares helped cut down a run at the plate.

Reggie Pennell led off the sixth with a walk and Poulin singled. Symonds flied out to center on a great catch to move both runners up and Valladares walked to load the bases. However, Pennell was cut down at the plate on a grounder to short and Radcliffe lined a shot that looked destined for the left field fence, but it was tracked down at the fence for the inning's final out.

North Country pushed across one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning to up the lead to 4-2 and set down Farmington in order in the top of the seventh to clinch the District Five championship.

The Farmington team is coached by David Valladares, Joe Symonds and John Hilman and the roster included AJ Valladares, Cody Symonds, David Ford, Kevin Radcliffe, Kevin Poulin, Connor Leahy, Brandon Hilman, Greg Merkey, Reggie Pennell, John Barnes, David Nickerson and Travis Drapeau.

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