Post 22 seniors are off to flying start

Jake Toulmin

Jake Toulmin

Zach Aldrich

Zach Aldrich

Amilio Urista

Amilio Urista

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-26-2024 5:26 PM

LEBANON — Jake Toulmin drove a compact car to Tuesday’s Lebanon Post 22 senior American Legion baseball doubleheader at Lebanon High.

The recent Hanover High graduate had a sizable effect on the twinbill’s second contest against Manchester’s Sweeney Post 2, however, striking out nine batters and walking four while allowing three hits and two runs, both of them earned.

The lefthander lasted 4⅔ innings and powered the hosts to a 3-2 victory that pushed them to 6-0 this season and kept them atop the New Hampshire District A standings. The hosts took the opener as well, 7-6.

Lebanon received six hits from as many batters. Bennett Hewett singled home the first Post 22 run during the first inning, and Amilio Urista doubled to score Felix Kreis in the second frame.

Zach Aldrich scored the winning run during the third inning when he alertly sprinted from third base on a delayed steal. Sweeney’s pitcher had caught a lob from his catcher between the mound and the plate and distractedly drifted back toward the bump.

“They held on and came up big in big moments,” said coach Chauncey Wood of his troops, who include five Lebanon High products, three from Stevens and two each from Newport and Hanover. “The leadership on this team is different daily. Jake Toulmin was a great leader today.

“He throws everything with intention. He pitched to the count and the umpire’s strike zone. He’s very methodical and a coach’s dream.”

Toulmin, who picked off an astounding 14 runners for Hanover this spring, looked like he’d nabbed a couple more Tuesday, but field umpire Brewster Gove disagreed. Toulmin tired during the fifth inning and signaled to Wood for a replacement after walking the first two batters and striking out the next two.

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Toulmin made a late decision to play Legion ball after deciding he wanted to try out for the club team at North Carolina’s Elon University this fall. It would be good to stay sharp during the summer, he figured, and wound up throwing roughly 90 pitches Tuesday before deciding he’d had enough.

“I’ve learned through experience,” said Toulmin, who throws a fastball, a curve that breaks vertically and a slider that moves horizontally. “I can feel that my velocity and control is weakening and I get a tingling down my arm.”

Wood noted that opposing batters can rarely dig in against Toulmin because he moves his target points around the strike zone and has a delivery that naturally hides the ball.

Pitching depth has often been a problem for Post 22 when it reaches the double-elimination state tournament and its schedule of jam-packed games. This year’s event starts July 19 in Nashua.

Toulmin, who posted a 1.37 earned-run average and struck out 55 batters in 35 innings this spring, figures to lead a Post 22 staff that includes Hanover teammate Freddie Mierke, Hewett, Aldrich and fellow Lebanon product Nick Brill. Sunapee’s Brock Kangas closed Tuesday’s victory.

“We are who we are from the beginning of the season to the end of the season,” said Wood, whose team dropped Sweeney to 2-7. “We don’t have kids who go play (club) ball and then show up for the (Legion) playoffs.”

Notes: A sea change has occurred involving Post 22’s baseball leadership. Longtime steward Pete St. Pierre has handed the reins to Dan Griswold. St. Pierre, a Claremont native who’s tirelessly led the post’s hardball efforts since 2012, operated the scoreboard Tuesday. … Manchester is hosting this year’s senior Northeast Regionals. … Post 22 catcher Ryan Lundrigan, who startled many by cutting his traditionally long hair down to the scalp earlier this year, has now bleached his locks blonde. The linebacker promised he’ll go back to stubble atop his noggin for the start of the gridiron season in August. … Sweeney went down a coach during the fourth inning when its argumentative first-base box occupant was ejected by Gove. … Hanover graduate Trevor Pierce is a University of South Carolina sophomore and has played for the Gamecocks’ National Club Baseball Association Division II team. He encouraged Toulmin to give collegiate club action a try.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.