NEWPORTâThe Lake Region and North Country 12-U Cal Ripken baseball teams got together for a best of the three series starting last Thursday to see who be crowned the District Champions.
Lake Region, with their power bats and top notch pitching, needed just two games to take the title, winning 5-1 and 9-5.
Starting on the hill for game one were Orleans County Thunder teammates Parker Brown, for Lake Region, and TJ Santaw, for North Country.
The duo were fresh off of a championship run in Drummondville, where they were lights out on the mound for their select team.
Now that had to be put aside as they squared off in a battle for Orleans County bragging rights.
In game one, LR got off to the fast start plating two runs in the top of the first inning.
Rian Hayman-Jones led off with a walk, but Santaw was able to strike out Nick Leblanc to get the first out.
That brought up Brown, who hit a blast to center that cleared the fences, although not without some controversy.
Apparently there was some who thought that the ball had bounced over the fence and was a ground rule double.
Brown started to make his way back to the bag, but even the guy who gave up the bomb knew it was gone.
Santaw made the universal sign for a homer by twirling around his index finger, and the umpires agreed sending Brown back to the dugout with a two run lead for the visitors.
In the bottom of the frame Brown was masterful setting down the side with a strike out one and two ground-outs that never left the infield.
North Country got on the board in the second when Cole Azur led off with homer of his own, and it was 2-1 Lake Region after one.
The boys in blue came charging back in the third, starting with another walk for Hayman-Jones.
It seems that whenever Rian walked good things happened for LR.
With Leblanc at the plate, Hayman-Jones stole second and now there was a man in scoring position with no outs.
Leblanc blooped one over the short-stop, but the runner was unable to advance.
Brown flied out, and then Brady Perron singled to load the bases.
Catcher Liam Kennedy strode to the plate, but before he could even do anything, a ball got past Tucker Camber, Hayman-Jones scored, and everyone else moved up a bag.
Kennedy found a pitch he liked and smacked a two-RBI single that wrapped up the day's scoring.
The rest of the game featured outstanding pitching from Perron and Azur, as the two combined for ten strikeouts to close out game one 5-1 in favor of Lake Region.
Parker got the win and TJ the loss as this round went Brown.
Both teams were back at it on Friday evening with North Country needing a win to stay alive and Lake Region one win away from a trip to the State Tournament next weekend.
Lake Region was the home team and they sent Hayman-Jones to the hill while the visiting North Country team had Azur going to start with.
Neither team scored in the first, and Cole picked up where he left off the day before, striking out two while Rian struck out one and got two fly-outs.
In the second, Hunter Marsh walked, Derrick Breault singled and both crossed the plate without the benefit of a hit giving NC their first lead of the series at 2-0.
LR got one back in the bottom of the frame as Perron singled and scored to close the gap to one.
Perron relieved Hayman-Jones in the third, striking out two while allowing one hit to Azur.
Lake Region took the lead in the third as Brady Riendeau and Brown came home making it 3-2.
In the fourth they blew open the game, batting around and scoring six runs in the inning.
A combination of a hit, a walk, and a miscues had the bases loaded and Hayman-Jones at the plate.
With the count at 0-0, Rian blasted one over the fence for a grand slam and a 7-2 lead.
Leblanc and Brown would both single and score and heading into the fifth down 9-2, North Country had some work to do.
They would have to wait as Perron struck out the side to keep the train moving for Lake Region.
In the sixth Brown came on to close things out, and after holding North Country to just one run on Thursday, the boys in orange wanted some revenge.
They got some satisfaction, scoring three runs, including another solo shot from Cole Azur, but Lake Region had the last laugh, holding on for the 9-5 win and the title.
Just a side note here, a shout out goes to Brady Perron, and anyone who has been his teammate for the last five years.
After Newport beat Barton for the for the Majors' title a week or so ago, Perron commented that he had been a runner-up five straight times.
Well I would like to say congratulations to Brady for finally winning the big one and becoming a champ.
Lake Region now heads down to White River this weekend to test their skills against the other top teams in the state.