Rutland vs. Brattleboro Baseball 1 (copy)

Rutland starting pitcher Ben Simpson fires to the plate during a game against Brattleboro last month.

It’s been 22 years since Rutland Post 31 won its state-leading 15th championship. This year’s pitching staff, with arms like Ben Simpson, Josh Beayon and Ethan Senecal — their respective high school teams’ aces — is preparing to try to end that drought.

“We should be strong on the mound,” said coach Rick Battles on Tuesday, “and there’s a good core of guys behind the plate. With 33 games you need a lot of arms.”

Post 31 opens up at Brattleboro on Saturday and will play its first home game at St. Peter’s Field next Tuesday against that same Post 5 club.

Beayon (Otter Valley) Simpson (Rutland) and Senecal (Burr and Burton) give Rutland fastball/curveball pitchers who enjoyed solid springs and could eat up a lot of innings. Add to that Otter Valley’s Patrick McKeighan, who threw a lot of innings with good success this past high school season, and Cole Blanchard, the designated closer from Mount St. Joseph, and Battles has plenty of options.

The staff will be handled by two returning receivers, Luc Vitagliano and Ethan Coarse, the latter Rutland High’s best offensive player this past spring. Vitagliano saw the most work this spring but has been taking younger players under his wing.

“Ethan will see a lot of time because Luca caught a lot last year,” said Battles.

Rutland will have quality defenders at every infield spot: Beayon, Simpson and Marcus McCullough at first base; Reece de Castro at second, McKeighan (and de Castro) at shortstop and Nate Hudson at third. Blanchard played shortstop for MSJ and gives Post 31 another option in the infield and outfield.

Reilly Shannon is a slick-fielding centerfielder and will join Senecal, Justin Aker (Rutland High’s MVP) and Alex Cornelius in the outfield.

McCullough and de Castro, who did not pitch last year because he was coming off an injury, could also see pitching time.

Rutland has a lineup that can hit for average and power, something Battles is hoping to see from game 1 through the double-elimination state tournament. Offensive production fell off during last year’s state tournament and Rutand was eliminated in three games.

“This year we’ve got a strong lineup 1 through 9,” Battles said.

Newcomers to the 17-man roster are Ryan Flanders, Griffin Briggs, Chris Maquire and Braydon Carlton.

Battles has been impressed with the slightly built Flanders, who played shortstop at Mill River as a freshman.

“I love this kid,” he said. “He was a little nervous but he settled down. He’s a go-getter and he really wants to learn. All the new kids do.

“We’ve been together for a week and they’re a good group of kids,” Battles said. “We should be OK this year and we’re anxious for that first game.”

Rutland has a full slate in the Southern Division and has four non-league games against Granville and Saratoga, New York, and a three-day tournament in Old Orchard Beach July 21-23.

The games area fans are craving most is the rivalry against Fair Haven-based Lakes Region. The teams will meet first on June 27 at St. Peter’s, where new infield turf was recently installed.

This year’s state tournament will be played in Colchester (the primary site) and Essex. All games this year will be seven-inning games, including tournament games and single weekend games.

The Schedule

Saturday, June 15

Rutland at Brattleboro, 2, noon

Tuesday, June 18

Brattleboro at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 19

White River Junction at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Friday, June 21

Rutland at Old Orchard Beach, 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, June 22

Rutland at Old Orchard Beach, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 23

Rutland at Old Orchard Beach, 9 a.m.

Tuesday, June 25

Bellows Falls at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 26

Rutland at Bellows Falls, 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 27

Lakes Region at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 29

Rutland at White River Junction, 2, noon

Sunday, June 30

Saratoga at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Monday, July 1

Lakes Region at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 2

Rutland at Bennington, 5:30 p.m.

Friday, July 5

Rutland at Saratoga, 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 7

Rutland at Randolph, 2, noon

Tuesday, July 9

Rutland at Lakes Region, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 10

Rutland at Lakes Region, 5:30 p.m. {/span}

Thursday, July 11

Rutland at Bennington, 5:30 p.m.

Friday, July 12

Rutland at Granville, N.Y., 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 13

Rutland at White River Junction, 2, 4 p.m.

Sunday, July 14

White River Junction at Rutland, noon

Monday, July 15

Rutland at Granville, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 16

Brattleboro at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 17

Bennington at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 18

Bennnington at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Friday, July 19

Bellows Falls at Rutland, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 20

Randolph at Rutland, 2, noon

Tuesday, July 23

Rutland at Bellows Falls, 7 p.m.

bob.fredette

@rutlandherald.com

Follow Bob on Twitter: @Bob_Fredette

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