The best thing about Legion baseball locally is it allows baseball players to take on the biggest guys around. There are only 16 Legion baseball teams in the state of Vermont, and there is only one league with two divisions, North and South. If you play Legion baseball in Vermont, you play as big time a game as there is.

Bellows Falls Pierce Lawton Post 37 puts a competitive product on the field almost every year. From Dick Forbush to Kevin Vancor as general managers to Bob Lockerby to Bill Lockerby as coaches, it is well organized. The organization and decision-making allows athletes from the area to challenge their skills.

The name is Bellows Falls, but the secret to putting together a competitive nine for the summer is making sure you sprinkle in area talent from surrounding towns so you can compete with the big guys. This year’s edition of the Post 37 squad has seen contributions from Fall Mountain, Windsor, Green Mountain, and Vermont Academy in addition to those from Bellows Falls Union High School.

The 2018 Bellows Falls Pierce Lawton Post 37 American Legion Baseball team. Front row left to right: Gunnar Sawyer, Jack Brown, Josh Woods, Lucas Saunders, Rex Hill, Jacob Streeter, Grady Lockerby, Assistant Coach Shawn Burke, Head Coach Bill Lockerby. Back row from left: Assistant Coach Jarrod James, McGregor Vancor, Griffin Waryas, Spencer Clark, Kendal Heath, Ethan McNamara, Darwin Holcombe, Clayton Groenewold, Casper Rowe, and Tucker Wright. Missing is Seth Balch. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

Bellows Falls finished third in the eight-team Southern Division and was 14-6 in league play when we went to press with a game against Ludlow still remaining on the schedule. The way things look in the Northern Division, Bellows Falls will either face the Colchester Cannons or Essex in the first round of the Vermont State Tournament. Those two teams were about to play Tuesday.

Seth Balch is pitching the opening game of the Vermont Legion Tournament. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

Bellows Falls certainly did play with the big boys all season long. The standings reflect how they were in the thick of things throughout the season. They stand at 14-6 and five of their six losses came against Brattleboro and Rutland, the two teams above them in the standings. The only other loss was versus fourth place Hartford, a team they won the season series from.


Hendal Heath is a key to the team’s hopes in the Vermont State Tournament. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

Coach Bill Lockerby knew one thing before the season began. He said, “I expected we would have a good year because we have two ace pitchers. We did lose six important guys from the middle of our line-up from last year so I expected we would take a wicked step back offensively, but the way things ended up, we statistically made out all right and our numbers there, were even a little bit better.”

Lockerby said, “The biggest surprise offensively had to be Tucker Wright. He was our back-up catcher a year ago and [he] has turned into a very productive number three hitter who has made an incredible difference.”


Griffin Waryas is taking his lead off from second base while his cousin is in the vicinity of the base for a potential pick-off attempt. Clark lives in Springfield but plays for Hartford. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

The team batting average is .329. McGregor Vancor is batting .390 with a team-leading 23 hits and has scored 19 runs. Balch is hitting .370 and Heath, Griffin Waryas, and Jacob Streeter have hit .359, .324, and .322 respectively. Heath has a team leading 19 runs batted in and Streeter has a team leading 12 stolen bases. Josh Woods has hit an even .300.

Clayton Groenewold makes a heads up play covering home from his third base position to tag a runner out. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

In that all-important pitching category, the team as a whole has a very impressive 2.57 ERA. Heath leads the way with a 5-1 record and a .091 ERA. He also has 50 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Balch’s record is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 31 2/3 frames. Woods is the team’s closer, winning his only three decisions with an ERA of. 058. As a closer, Woods has thrown 11 innings, yielding only three hits, and has struck out 10. Spencer Clark, Rex Hill, and Jack Brown also have been a part of that astounding team ERA, giving the team valuable innings when they have been needed.

Lockerby realizes the Legion season is actually a sprint, not a marathon, lasting only a little over a month. He said he’s told his team from the start, “We only play 21 games in about five weeks, and they have to realize that every game is like a play-off game. Where we ended up, shows that those words are not a stretch at all.”

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