by Richard Creaser
ORLEANS — The tournament may have been small, but the competition wasn’t. However, the Lake Region squad defeated Lyndonville to earn the Babe Ruth district three 13-year-old title over the weekend. The two teams squared off at Lake Region Union High on Saturday and Sunday to determine the winner under scorching conditions.
“I’m not sure I could have gone out in that heat and played three games with that level of intensity,” Coach Jason Kennedy said Tuesday. “I think they’re just a great group of young guys who really love the game of baseball.”
Even though there were only two teams vying for the title — the Lake Region team being composed of players from both the Lake Region and North Country Union High School areas — the competition still followed the double elimination tournament rules. As such, the tournament played out more like a major league divisional series than a one and done playoff game.
The Lake Region squad struck first, taking the first game of the tournament 6-4. That first game, it would later seem, was merely an effort to gauge each team’s strengths and weaknesses. Lyndonville rebounded with a decisive 19-12 victory in game two, setting up a tense and exciting championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Lake Region would break out the big bats to post a five-inning, 19-9 victory to capture the district title and advance to Friday’s state tournament in Brattleboro. Though the score may have seemed lopsided, taken as a whole both teams put up a tremendous effort, Coach Kennedy said.
“Our bats really came alive on Sunday,” he said. “Both teams really hit the ball well all weekend. We had to earn that win.”
Although the Lake Region squad is composed of players from different teams, finding that team chemistry wasn’t a big problem, Coach Kennedy said. Many of the players had played against one another at different levels of baseball throughout their young careers.
“They may not have played together, but it’s not like they were meeting each other for the first time,” Coach Kennedy said. “They all wanted to be there and to play baseball. They have a drive and a desire to do well.”
The state tournament kicks off with Lake Region playing against host Brattleboro at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, July 19, at Brattleboro High. The winner of the state tournament will move on to compete at the New England Regional Tournament in Manchester, New Hampshire, starting on July 26.
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a story on the 13-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament, click here.