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World Series Bound! - Thunder Rolls To Regional Title



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World Series Bound! — Thunder Rolls To Regional Title

by andy hutchison

There’s no telling just how loudly the Thunder will rumble, but one thing is for sure — you just can’t count this team out in any game or tournament in which it is a participant.

The Thunder, Newtown’s 10-year-old baseball team, continued its postseason success by following up a state championship with a New England Regional title in Londonderry, N.H., on July 29. The team got the job done by coming from behind — something that has become routine in the postseason for this group.

The Thunder defeated Exeter, N.H., 15-8 in the pinnacle game to earn a berth in the Cal Ripken World Series in Ocala, Fla., beginning on August 13.

Regional tourney MVP Jason Hebner pitched his second complete game and drove in the go-ahead run in the win.

After falling behind by three runs, the Thunder started to claw back. Colby Olson laced a booming double to dead centerfield to score two runs. Olson also picked up two wins during the tournament and played a key role with his defense and clutch hitting.

Exeter led 6-3 going to the bottom of the third inning before the Newtown contingent turned the game around. Thunder Manager Tom Harrison went to his bench and called for Ryan Kost to get things going. Kost doubled to left and the flood gates opened. Owen McInerney walked, and Connor Barrett singled to make it 6-4. Sam Grossano walked and Lucas O’Brien doubled to tie the game. That set the stage for Hebner’s heroics and the “hitman” laced a perfectly placed hit down the right field line to score two runs for an 8-6 lead and the Thunder never looked back.

State tournament MVP Adam Bergeron returned the defense to its perfect form the final three innings to help preserve the win. The Thunder received contributions from all 12 of its players throughout the tournament.

The Thunder battled back to beat opponents in its state championship run and overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Exeter 2-1 in extra innings in the winner’s bracket finals of the New England tourney.

“They’re a pretty tough group of kids so I don’t expect them to crack under pressure down there,” said Harrison, looking ahead to the World Series. “I think we have as good a shot as anybody.”

In addition to Harrison, the team is coached by Chris O’Brien and Kevin Barrett. Team members are Ryan Kost, Jason Hebner, Colby Olson, Adam Bergeron, Owen McInerney, Ben Harrison, Nick Venezia, Lucas O’Brien, Will Huegi, Sam Grossano, Ben Dieckman, and Connor Barrett.

“It’s a great group of players — a great group of kids,” Harrison said. “It’s been a great summer.”

In an effort to defray expenses for travel and accommodations, the team is holding fundraisers. On Saturday, August 7, the Thunder will hold a car wash at Berkshire Motors, across from Newtown High School, from 10 am to 2 pm. On Tuesday, August 10, My Place Restaurant, 8 Queen Street, will donate 20 percent of profits to the Thunder when customers mention the team when eating in or taking out orders on that day.

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