Article and photos by Ruthie Laroche
Franklin County Legion Post 01 brought an American Legion Baseball State Tournament trophy back to the county for the first time in 83 years, thanks to an incredible team effort.
Brady Green pitched nine and one-third innings in the final game of the tournament. Richard Walker closed out the game, getting the final two outs.
The first game of the afternoon ended in a 12-2 loss for Post 01, but the boys didn’t hang their heads, and after a brief break for dinner, the Post 01 squad took the field for the second time.
Brady Green took the mound in the bottom of the first, handling the top of the White River lineup with ease and dexterity. Green struck out his first batter, induced a pop out to Boucher in left for the second out, and a ground out to third baseman Jake Hakey, which brought the inning to an end.
Center fielder, Bennett Coseo, singled in the second, and Tucker Gaudette who hit a home run on Wednesday night, came to the plate. Gaudette sent the ball sailing over the right field fence for a two run home run.
White River answered swiftly in the bottom of the second, with a two run home run of their own.
Going into the top of the third tied one to one, Post 01 batter, Ryan Boucher, singled to center and stole second. Dylan Beyor singled, scoring Boucher and putting Post 01 ahead by one run.
White River would score one run in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game once again, but Franklin County bats came to life in the top of the seventh.
Boucher hit himself on base once again and would score the fourth run for Post 01 when he was driven in by Colby Brouillette’s line drive double to center field.
Laroche hit a sacrifice fly to center allowing Brouillette to score. Franklin County was up 5-4 in the top of the sixth.
Once again, White River answered with a tying run in the bottom of the sixth.
The bottom of the eighth saw White River threaten, but thanks to solid defense on Post 01’s part, Brady Green and the Franklin County boys kept their opponents at bay.
Coseo tracked a deeply hit fly ball to center for an out. Short stop, Laroche fielded a ground ball, took it to second on his own for the out. He was slid into, resulting in an interference call and a double play which ended the inning.
The game reached the ninth inning with both teams tied at five apiece. Post1 batter Kristian Viljanon was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a ground out. Gaudette walked, and Hakey doubled on a line drive. Viljanon scored and Gaudette advanced to third.
Hakey’s double scored the go ahead run for Post 01, and brought the offense to life.
“I just wanted to take the ball to the opposite field. I had fouled the pitch off before, just foul of the right field line. I knew I had to put something in play being down by one ball and two strikes. I knew that going the other way was the easiest way to move the runners as well as give myself a chance for an extra base hit,” said Hakey of his go ahead line drive.
Tucker Judkins worked a walk and Boucher singled, scoring pinch runner, Ryan Austin. Brouillette singled, driving in Hakey and advancing Judkins to third. Laroche hit his second sacrifice fly of the night, scoring Judkins.
Beyor singled on a line drive, scoring Boucher and advancing Brouillette to third, easily placing him in scoring position. Brouillette scored on a wild pitch, and the inning ended shortly after.
Green took the mound for the last time, striking out one and reaching his pitch count. Richard Walker came in for the final two outs, but White River did manage to score, bringing the final tally to 11-7.
Boucher made the final out of the game for FC Post 01, running down a ball that was hit down the left field line. The crowd erupted with applause and the Franklin County dugout emptied, players and coaches rushing the field to greet the returning fielders.
“It always feels good to come in and close out such an important game,” said Walker.
Franklin County Post 01, the third seed in the north, shocked the American Legion Tournament goers, upsetting both second place teams and both first place teams, and eventually securing the first Franklin County State Tournament victory since 1934.
Friday night’s games tested the strength of the Post 01 team, and head coach Josh Laroche, was quick to credit the grit and tenacity of his team for the victory that they earned in Hartford.
“Everyone, including our bench players, contributed something to this game. We’ve emphasized this all year: everyone on the team matters. Learning how to play as a team takes time and at the end of the year, we were able to play together. I believe this is why we were able to bounce back from tough situations and why we were able to create positive momentum for ourselves throughout the game and the tournament,” said Laroche.
Post 01 will travel to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on August 2nd to face the State Champions from the state of Maine in a nine inning game at the Holy Cross baseball field. The American Legion Regional Tournament is a double elimination tournament which includes teams from all the New England states.