MIDDLEBURY — On Tuesday night, the Addison Country American Legion baseball team opened its season with a 6-2 win against non-league opponent Bellows Falls at Middlebury College.
AC coach Mike Estey admitted his team of mostly high school players looked rusty, but he was happy with the team’s effort.
“These guys haven’t played in two weeks. We didn’t play our best, and we were missing four of our players. But overall we’re pleased,” Estey said.
AC failed to hit any extra base hits, but used gritty base running and capitalized on Bellows Falls’ five errors to score two runs in the first inning, one in the fourth, and three in the sixth. AC never trailed. Bellows Falls scored twice in the fifth inning to close an AC three-run lead to one, but AC scored three insurance runs in the sixth.
“We didn’t tear the cover off the ball, but we beat out some ground balls and hustled out some plays. The things we could control we did well,” Estey said.
Center fielder Marshall Hastings sparked the offense with a leadoff bunt single in the first and later chipped in with a sacrifice fly.
“We like to play small ball,” Hastings said. “We’ll do whatever Mike tells us to win.”
Three pitchers combined to allow no earned runs. Mark Dickerson struck out four while walking only one in three scoreless innings. Sawyer Kamman allowed one hit and two unearned runs in two innings of work, and Charlie Stapleford closed out Bellows Falls with two perfect innings in which he struck out three batters.
With AC missing players, including third baseman/pitcher Tommy Nelson and shortstop Collin Curler, Stapleford, who played left field, shortstop, and pitcher, was one of many AC players to change positions during the early-season, non-league game.
“I think that was the first time I’ve played shortstop since I was 11,” Stapleford said.
In the AC first, Hastings reached second on a throwing error on his leadoff bunt and moved to third on a Nick Richer groundout. Devin Hayes plated him with a sacrifice fly. Stapleford walked, moved to second on Kamman’s infield hit, and scored on a throwing error when he stole third base.
AC made it 3-0 in the fourth when Wade Steele reached on an error, moved to third on a Dickerson single, and scored on Hastings’ sac fly. But BF cut the lead to one run in the fifth off Kamman, using a hit, a walk and a miscue to score twice.
AC got its fourth and final hit in the fifth, a Nick Ouellette single, but then took advantage of two walks and three errors to score three times in the sixth.
Steele walked to lead off, and Dickerson reached on with a fielder’s choice that erased Steele at second. A walk to Casey Covey and an error on a ball hit by Austin Lafayette loaded the bases, and Dickerson scored when Hastings grounded to third and the throw home was wide. The final two runs scored on another infield error, and then Stapleford shut the door.
Estey expects to have all hands on deck for five league games between Thursday and this coming Tuesday, minus two players: The team learned over the weekend that veteran Dylan Bresnick was no longer eligible to participate, and another veteran, Ethan Heffernan, decided not to play this summer.
AC will play its first league game on Thursday at home vs. S.D. Ireland at 5:30 p.m., host Orleans-Essex-Caledonia on Saturday at 1 p.m., entertain Franklin in a Sunday doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m., and then hit the road on Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. rematch with S.D. Ireland.