by Richard Creaser
LYNDONVILLE — The Orleans County All-Stars, composed of players from two Lake Region and one North Country squads, earned runners-up honors at the 13-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament held in Lyndonville over the weekend. Team manager Mark Royer had nothing but praise for his team.
“I told the boys after the game, we came here with pride, we played with pride and we left the field with pride,” Mr. Royer said on Monday. “It was an honor to coach them.”
The caliber of sportsmanship displayed by the Orleans County team was such that even the umpires took note, Mr. Royer said. The umpires admired the way the players remained composed and respectful, even at their worst moments.
The district tournament pitted the Orleans County squad against all-star teams from Lyndon and St. Johnsbury. The double elimination tournament took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with St. Johnsbury emerging as the district champs following Sunday afternoon’s match-up against Orleans County.
The tournament started out well for Orleans County as they defeated Lyndon on Friday night. Orleans County faced St. Johnsbury in the first game of the day Saturday morning and lost 10-0 with the game called in the fifth inning by the ten-run mercy rule.
“Even though we lost 10-0, St. Johnsbury was only ahead 5-0 coming into the bottom of the fifth,” Mr. Royer said. “If we could have caught a few breaks it might have been a completely different game. We played well, but just couldn’t cash in those runs.”
Orleans County finished off Lyndon in the nightcap to set up a rematch with St. Johnsbury on Sunday afternoon. Because of the double-elimination format, the St. Johnsbury squad was playing for the championship while Orleans County played to force a second and deciding match.
The rematch proved the capabilities of the Orleans County squad as they managed to carry a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Unlike in the first meeting, Orleans County generated some offense by finding holes in an otherwise tight St. Johnsbury defense.
“We definitely hit the ball better,” Mr. Royer said. “The ball found the grass. That’s what we would say in the dugout, ‘Make the ball find the grass.'”
St. Johnsbury plated two runs in their half of the sixth inning and carried it over into Orleans County’s final at bats. St. Johnsbury would hang on to the lead and with the win, clinch the district title.
“We pitched really well and played solid defensively,” Mr. Royer said of the championship game. “After they shut us down ten to nothing on Saturday there was no head-hanging. We knew we had something to show them and we showed it on Sunday.”
Mr. Royer admired the way his team handled their loss in what may have been the biggest game of the season. Baseball is just a game, he said, but the way you handle the outcome speaks volumes for the depth of a person’s character and that carries over to life off the diamond.
“Even when you try your best you won’t always get the result you want,” Mr. Royer said. “Your effort and your attitude are the only things in life you can control. It’s how you handle adversity and how you get back up and try again that really matters.”
contact Richard Creaser at [email protected]
For a story on the Babe Ruth district three 13-year-old title win by the Lake Region All Stars, click here.