You might not see a more jubilant Post 31 dugout than the one that was celebrating after Tuesday evening's 5-0 victory over Brattleboro Post 5 at St. Peter's Field.
"It's fun again, right," Post 31 coach Rick Battles said to his players.
There was plenty of reason for the euphoria. Rutland had just taken over second place in the Southern Division and had put a mid-season swoon behind them ahead of the State American Legion Baseball Tournament later this month.
It pushed Post 31's record to 13-5 and dropped Brattleboro to 13-6.
Post 31 rode the left arm of starter Josh Beayon, who pitched behind on the count a lot during his 6.1 innings, but was tough in the clutch. He also was the beneficiary of some outstanding defense.
Rutland scored the only run Beayon and Post 31 needed in the first inning when Reece de Castro reached on an error and scored on Beayon's double.
It was a battle of aces as Brattleboro coach Eric Libardoni sent Adam Newton to the hill. It appeared for most of the night that the matchup of aces might play out as advertised with the score 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
But things deteriorated in that frame for Brattleboro with Rutland scoring four more unearned runs on just one hit. Reilly Shannon had the base hit but three errors, two walks (one intentional) and a hit batsman paved the way for Rutland.
Rutland helped itself, too, with some heads-up base running. Beayon caught the Brattleboro defense sleeping, streaking home when a timeout had not been called. Shannon also alertly manufactured another run. There was a controversial play at first base when Post 5 first baseman Hunter Beebe dropped the ball. It appeared to some that Beebe might have held it long enough but Shannon, taking nothing for granted, ran hard all the way home.
Libardoni went out to protest the call, the umpires huddled and the call stood.
Newton only surrendered two hits — the double to Beayon and a single to Shannon.
Beayon struck out six but walked four and went high in the count to numerous batters. He had thrown 106 pitches by the time he gave way to Ethan Senecal with one out and two runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh.
Senecal was sharp. He struck out the first hitter and then induced a game-ending ground ball.
"It was a great job by Josh Beayon today and Ethan shut the door," Battles said. "Ethan was determined."
There was plenty of leather flashed on this night. Post 31 second baseman de Castro made a highlight-reel play in the second, taking a hit away from Beebe after Post 5 already had the leadoff hitter aboard.
"If that's a base hit, who knows what might have happened," Battles said.
Brattleboro center fielder Jack Rice took a hit away from Nate Hudson with a spectacular catch of a sinking line drive in the first.
Tyler Millerick led Brattleboro with two base hits and Jeremy Rounds added a double.
"We made a lot of great plays," Beayon said of the defense. "We had been in a skid and we had a talk. We wanted to come out, play the game and have fun playing the game we love."
Beayon normally works out of a repertoire of a fastball, slider and curve. His curve was breaking too much on this night and he lived off the other two pitches.
"We had been in a little bit of a slide," Battles said.
They felt they had put that behind them and now will try to build on this victory Wednesday when Bennington Post 13 visits St. Peter's Field.
Battles will give the ball to Ben Simpson.