By Tris Wykes

LEBANON – The Lebanon American Legion Post 22 junior baseball team’s hold on its game with Weare Post 65 fell apart like a badly-wrapped burrito Sunday. The hosts first lost a four-run lead and then the District A game, 8-7.

Lebanon Post 22 catcher Jackson Cote forces out Weare runner Aidan Johnson. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Post 22 committed four errors during the contest, its second in as many days, and fell to 3-6. Lebanon, which has seven games remaining before the regular season ends July 31, is battling Merrimack and Keene for the district’s final two state tournament slots. Berlin and Nashua seem assured of the first two postseason placements.

Post 65, previously winless, drew seven walks during the last two innings against relief pitcher Oliver Sperry and used a wild pitch to score what proved to be the winning run in the eighth inning. 

Sperry, a reserve catcher this season at Hanover High who only recently returned from vacation, started the seventh inning with Lebanon up, 7-6, and allowed one hit in his 1 2/3 inning appearance. However, the righthander threw only 24 percent of his 59 pitches for strikes and surrendered two runs while striking out one opponent.

“We’re shot on pitchers so we had to try and stretch everybody out,” said Lebanon coach Chauncey Wood, whose 18-player roster is currently depleted by those on holiday, at sports camp and battling illness. 

“Oliver was hitting the strike zone with some pitches his first inning, so we threw him back out there again. Jackson (Cote) was all we had available after that, and he finished the game.”

Cote, a Kearsarge High product who usually plays catcher, switched positions with Sperry and recorded the final out in the top of the eighth. There was hope for a comeback when Spencer Cunningham and Bode Benoit led off the inning’s bottom half with consecutive singles. However, Sperry popped out, Jack Clary struck out and Freddy Mierke grounded out.

Lebanon Post 22’s Spencer Cunningham (5) and Jack Clary (9) slap gloves. Assistant coach Jon Hamel is at left and Ben Achmoody is at right. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Cunningham had three hits, Zander Doyle had two hits and two RBIs and Benoit had two hits. Mierke started on the mound and allowed one hit and three runs during three innings of work. He struck out eight opponents and walked six, pushing his pitch count to 87 and prompting Wood to give him the hook. 

Nick Brill followed with three more innings on the bump, surrendering three hits and three runs while striking out two batters and walking two. Wood said Post 22’s defense let the rising Lebanon High sophomore down. 

“Our guys make a couple of errors and for some reason, they have difficulty recovering,” Wood said. “With experience comes the ability to work through the rough innings and have shorter memories. You can’t take an error to the plate with you.”

Notes: Weare is 1-5. Post 65 lost to visiting Lebanon, 5-1, on June 24… Former Newport High baseball and girls soccer coach Jon Hamel coached third base for Lebanon on Sunday… Sperry’s sister, Rose, a former ice hockey player at Hanover High and Kimball Union Academy, has completed three seasons at Lake Forest College a little north of Chicago, putting up a goal and two assists in 50 career games. The NCAA Division III Foresters were 1-6 last winter… Lebanon catcher Easton Wykes suffered a jammed wrist during a fourth-inning collision at the plate with a Weare runner and exited the game, not to return… Wood’s oldest son, Kadin, serves as Post 22’s bat boy, a role Wykes filled in 2015.

If you found this story worthwhile, please consider donating to support the work that produced it. 

Octopus Athletics is an independent site covering sports in the heart of the Upper Valley. Your contributions allow us to bring you news without paywalls or pop-up ads.

Lebanon Post 22 infielder Owen Aubin awaits a throw as Weare’s Aidan Johnson pulls into second base. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.