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BARTONâ€“Thursday evening yielded the kind of conditions conducive to playing a little baseball.
Good thing too because it was indeed baseball on the menu as the Barton Dodgers and the Newport Orioles squared off in the Orleans County Cal Ripken Majorsâ€™ championship game.
It was a close game that had a little bit of the sublime and the surreal.
Both teams fielded a strong combination of quality pitching and timely hitting, but on this day Newport was just a little bit better, defeating their opponents to the south 6-4.
"We had very good pitching, we made the plays when we needed to make them, and the boys have worked very hard at it this year and it paid off tonight," said Newport coach Shawn Santaw.
The game got off to a fast start.
Parker Perron, the younger of the two Perron boys on Barton's roster, got the nod for the Dodgers and quickly got the first out of the game as Caleb Lanoue popped out to kick off the action.
Next up was TJ Santaw, who singled for the Oriolesâ€™ first hit of the game. Cole Azur kept the train moving with double which moved Santaw to third.
That brought the clean-up hitter Mitchell Gonyaw to the dish with one out and two on.
Gonyaw hit a thundering blast past the outfielders for an inside the park homer and 3-0 Newport lead.
Perron settled down after that, getting out of the inning without further damage.
There was no rest for the weary as Parker was due up first in the bottom half of the frame.
As quick as the Orioles had struck, the Dodgers answered right back, scoring a pair of runs in their half of the first.
With Azur on the hill for Newport, Perron led off with a tough luck single, tough being that as he hustled to beat the throw he took a nasty digger once he crossed the bag.
After a few uncertain moments he shook it off and took his lead at first.
Johnny Nielson followed Perron's single with a triple that looked for certain it was going to score Perron, but Gonyaw took the cut-off throw and fired a bullet right into Santaw's glove to nail Parker at the plate.
The elder Perron, big brother Brady, got the Dodgers on the board, driving in Nielson with a single.
Azur was able to strike out Bruce Stone for the second out, and hoped to get the next batter, Rance Collins, out as well to keep the score at 3-1.
Rollins had other ideas, and hit the second triple of the inning to score Brady Perron from first.
Azur seemed fazed by the hit and plunked the next batter, Tanner Amyot.
But he regrouped and struck out the final batter to end the first.
The second inning was one for the pitchers.
Perron showed no ill effects from his earlier fall, pitching a beautiful 1-2-3 inning, striking out the first two and throwing out the third batter at first.
Azur answered by striking out the side and allowing one hit.
The offense came back to life for both teams in the third.
Lanoue singled to start the inning and Santaw reached on an error.
Azur knocked in both base runners with the gameâ€™s third triple in as many innings.
One out later Derrick Breault brought Azur home as he grounded out to the second baseman.
Just like in the first, when ever Newport scored Barton followed suit.
Santaw came in to pitch for Newport, and having thrown only two innings earlier in the week, was fresh and ready.
Well maybe not quite as ready as he would have liked.
Brady Perron greeted Santaw with double, and took third when the fielder mishandled the ball.
Perron's double was the first in a series of miscues that plagued the Orioles in the third.
Stone avenged his earlier strike out with a bomb over the outfielder's heads that he legged out for a home run.
Amyot reached on another error and Newport looked like it was about to hand the game over to the Dodgers.
Santaw struck out the next batter to calm things down a bit, but before he could get comfortable Quentin Bolio-Derbyshire smacked a single to put runners on the corners with one out.
With a runner on third Santaw needed either a strike out, a pop-up, or sharp hit ball to the left side to keep Amyot from making it a one run game.
He went with the strike out, then got the next batter to ground into a fielderâ€™s choice to end the pain.
Brady Perron relieved his brother in the fourth and had a much easier entry in to the contest than Santaw, striking out the side.
"With both of them being pitcher/catchers, they play together all the time. Plus they have a great work ethic and they love the game," said Dodger coach and proud parent Shawn Perron on his son's successes.
Barton tried to close the gap in the Dodger half of the inning, but with two outs Brady was caught stealing at home to quell the rally.
Strong defense from the Dodgers kept the Orioles in check in the fifth.
With one out and Azur at first Gonyaw popped out and the first baseman doubled off Azur to end the inning.
Santaw saved his best stuff for the fifth, mowing down the side in order.
When asked what was working for him Santaw said, "I like the mound here, plus I had my catcher Mitchell (Gonyaw) who always makes me laugh.
"If I am pitching bad he can help turn it around."
Said his coach and Dad, "TJ practices a lot at home. He throws strikes and has learned a little curve ball this year and he has a lot of confidence in it, which throws the kids off."
In the sixth the Orioles were looking for a little insurance as Briley Carter stood at third with two outs.
The young speedster had stolen second, third and now looked to complete the trifecta with a theft of home, but Brady Perron was at the plate waiting for him with the ball for the out.
The Orioles stood just three outs away from the title and Santaw picked up where he left off in the fifth, inducing a grounder and fanning a batter.
That meant it was up to Parker Perron if the Dodgers wanted to stay alive.
Sometimes if it wasn't for bad luck you would have no luck at all.
Whether it was bad luck or just a testament to how hard the ten year-old can swing a bat, Perron uncorked a vicious swing on the Santaw offering and...
The bat broke.
I repeat, it broke.
Wood, sure no problem I can see that, but an aluminum or composite, or whatever the bats are now comprised of these days breaking?
That was a first for me.
Perron could not believe it either as he looked down and saw the handle in his hand.
"It was kind of crazy and I did not know what to do," he said after the game.
Before he could get his bearings together Santaw picked up the ball and tossed it to Curtis Bowen for the 6-4 win and the championship.
"We hit the ball well and our pitching was just right," said Azur on how the Orioles were able to get the win.
Coach Perron had nothing but positive to say about his team after the game.
"I thought their effort was unbelievable. They stepped in, stepped out and they hustled to every play.
"Their heart is bigger than any of the teams' that I have coached before. I have been with these kids since T-ball and I am just really proud of them."
He also spoke about the broken bat, saying that it was "a very unfortunate way to end the game."
Brady Perron, the poor guy, finished in second place for the fifth time, but he had a smile on his face after the game.
"I have finished in second a lot, so I am kind of used to it," he said diplomatically. "We put the ball in play, fielded the ball well, but luck just wasn't on our side today."
As the season draws to a close there is still plenty of baseball left to play for some of the players as the All-Star and travel season gets underway.
Congratulations to both teams on a well played game