VFW heads to Little League championship after win over Legion

  • The Legion’s Connor Goodwin slides in safely at home for the second run of the game while VFW pitcher Jenna Bonenfant (9) goes for the tag during Tuesday’s playoff game between the two teams in Athol. For the Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

  • VFW’s Aedan Erickson is tagged out by the Legion’s Connor Goodwin trying to steal second base during the first inning of Tuesday’s playoff game between the two teams in Athol. For the Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

  • VFW’s Trevor Bullock sends a pitch to second base that scored one run in the fifth inning during Tuesday’s playoff game against the Legion in Athol. For the Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

Sports Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

ATHOL — Things started off slow for No. 1 VFW, going down by three to start the game, but the team climbed back into the game, eventually scoring five runs in the fifth inning to defeat No. 4 Legion in the opening round of the Chuck Stone Little League playoffs.

VFW advances to the championship series and will face the winner of No. 2 Lions and No. 3 Rotary Club, who will face-off on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. The best of two championship series begins Saturday with things expected to begin at 9 a.m.

With the loss, the Legion’s season comes to a close.

With the game tied at three, VFW used one hit and five walks to score five runs in the fifth inning, going on top 8-3. Wild pitching got the best of Legion reliever Colby Goodwin, who allowed consecutive wild pitches and VFW to take a 4-3 lead. Goodwin eventually allowed another wild pitch to put runners in scoring position. A grounder by Trevor Bullock allowed Jenna Bonenfant to score from third, putting her team up 5-3. After a walk chased Goodwin for MJ Publicover, Publicover allowed consecutive walks on four pitches to put VFW up 6-3 and to load the bases. Nathaniel Torres then relieved Publicover. He struck out the first batter he faced, but then allowed a hit to Aedan Erickson to one-hop the left field wall for a ground-rule double, putting VFW 8-3. Torres then got Stephan Mack to ground out to end the inning.

Mack then got the job done on the mound. After getting himself out of a bases loaded jam on a play at the plate in the previous inning, Mack got back-to-back strikeouts to start the sixth. He then faltered some, allowing back-to-back walks and a double to Goodwin to put runners in scoring position and cut his team’s lead to 8-4. A hit batsmen then loaded the bases and a walk to James Williams cut the lead to 8-5 VFW. Mack settled however and struck out Torres to send his team to the championship game.

Mack relieved Bonenfant, who pitched 3 ⅓ innings, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks while striking out eight. Bonenfant tied the game at three with a two run home run to left field in the third inning.

The Legion went up 2-0 in the first inning on a single by Hayden Barrieau that scored Connor Cox, followed by a wild pitch that allowed Goodwin to take home.

A triple by Cox put the Legion up 3-0 in the second inning. VFW responded with Marky Gauthier taking home on a stolen base in the bottom half of the inning.

Barrieau started for the Legion and pitched 3 ⅔ innings, giving up three runs on three hits and six walks while striking out four. Barrieau left with the bases loaded, but Goodwin struck out Erickson to end any threat.

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