NEWPORTâThe North Country Heat Invitational Baseball Tournament took place this weekend at Gardner Park and the home team did not disapoint, going 4-0 to win the event.
"The tournament went really well," said Heat Coach Mike LaCourse. "We got to see some new players that played with us that we may see next year at the high school. It was a good opportunity for the players to be in different roles and in a different environment."
Originally hoping for a few more teams to be able to compete, the final count rested at three with squads from Dover, NH and Hoosic Valley, NY joining North Country in the three team tourney.
While the Invitational was a little short on teams, so too were the Heat with players.
Logan Harper and Dylan Gile were out with injuries, and the members of the team from St. Johnsbury were competing for their home town team in the Babe Ruth Regionals in Massachusetts.
Colin Myrick and Bryce Carter from the OEC Lightning got the call, and were more than glad to don the gold and green for another weekend of baseball.
Action got underway on Saturday morning as the Heat squared off against Dover.
Not much was doing in the early innings, but in the third a series of timely hits and New Hampshire miscues allowed the home team to put a four spot on the board.
They added three more in the fourth, and won the contest 7-0.
Dustin Bathalon, Myrick and Wyatt Prue each went two innings in the contest with Myrick getting the win. Chase LaCourse was the team's game MVP.
Dover had little chance to rest as they were back at it an hour later against Hoosic Valley.
This time they fared a little bit better, winning a close one 6-5.
The final game of the day pitting North Country and Hoosic Valley was easily the most exciting.
Scoreless in the top half of the third, Matt Messier hit a two run single to give NC the lead.
The lead was down to 2-1 entering the bottom half of the 6th.
HV's John Rooney smashed a two run double to give the boys in blue a 3-2 advantage with one inning left to play.
With the two hour time limit looming, Tucker Corrow stepped to the plate and promptly singled and stole second.
Nick Sicardâs sac fly to right moved Corrow to third, and Dakota McAllister brought him home with a bloop to left.
McAllister was standing on second, having taken the bag on the throw home to try to get Corrow, when Tyler Sanville strode to the dish.
After a wild pitch moved Dakota to third, Sanville hit the second sac of the seventh to put the Heat ahead.
"I thought it was going to go beyond the outfielders and maybe push a double, but the sac fly did the job," said Sanville.
Sanville then got the ball in the bottom half of the frame and retired the side in order, which included a nice diving snag at first by Prue, to pick up the win.
Sanville commented on the pressure of going out and getting the win, saying, "All the pressure was on me and I dealt with it pretty well and did what I had to do and finish the game."
Asked how his team looked after the first day of play, LaCourse said, "We battled. I would like to be a little more efficient; first game we started slow and then came around, second game, it wasn't our best baseball, but hopefully we can make some adjustments and tighten things up a bit.â
Adjustments they made, as Sunday's opening contest featured a rematch between Hoosic and the Heat.
North Country's bats woke up in a big way and the Heat picked up the 12-5 win.
Things were close early. The Heat were up 3-1 going into the fifth until HV put two on the board to tie things at three.
Then came the explosion.
North Country put up six in their half of the fifth, and had added three more in the sixth before the Hoosic Valley team, noticing that the time limit had expired and they were not going going to win the game, went to the umpires and they called it.
Prue went four innings, Carter one, Myrick two-thirds, and Sanville one-third.
Dover and Hoosic Valley then met for the second time, with a lot on the line for Dover.
If they won, their final game against the Heat would be a battle for first place, meaning that the New Hampshire boys would have to win out and have scored enough points in to win the tiebreaker over the already 3-0 Heat.
Dover came through with another one-run win, this time 4-3, setting up what looked to be an interesting final game.
The most interesting, and by interesting I mean awful, thing was the wind blowing in extremely hard from right to left.
Anybody on the 3rd base side of the field more than likely will be spitting dust particles out for another day and a half.
The wind knocked down at least two potential homers, and affected play on the field throughout the game.
But, the sun was shining so the call to play ball was made and away we went.
Prior to the game the two teams had decided that they were going to play only five innings due to Dover having to travel, but after three innings, it looked like under normal circumstances it had the potential to go longer.
Dover's Mike Antone and North Country's Matt Messier kept hitters off balance through two.
While Messier switched to catcher in the third, Sanville came in and kept the trend going.
Dover stuck with Antone, whose off-speed stuff had the Heat baffled.
In the fourth, Jordan Goss doubled in Evan Zuchowski for the first tally of the game and 1-0 Dover lead.
Then it became go-time for the Heat.
They sent nine men to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, scoring seven runs to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
McAllister, who knocked in a pair said, "We had a good talk before the inning, and we all decided we couldn't get down ourselves, and we were able to string some hits together."
It looked like that would be enough, and eventually it would, but Dover did not go down without a fight, bringing the score to 7-5 before finally succumbing to the NC pitching.
Said Dover Manager Dana Dube, "We had been off for about three weeks, but we came up here to have fun and play baseball, in that order. I have a great bunch of kids, and this is such a beautiful place, so baseball was secondary, but we played well and one a couple of games."
Coach LaCourse was confident that his team was going to hold on for the win, but the ending was not quite what he expected.
"I knew we had good pitching depth, but it was a matter of who was going to be effective and who wasn't. Unfortunately I had to have a shorter leash on some than I would have liked."
Added McCallister on the tournament as a whole, "It was good. Not too many teams showed, but it was pretty good overall and we had fun.
"I'd like to thank everyone who came and supported (us)."
The Heat hope to play one more tournament this fall in Montreal before calling it quits for 2012.