By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — In a fast-paced, well-pitched baseball game at Vergennes Union High School on Saturday punctuated by good defensive plays, two mistakes by the host Commodores allowed U-32 to take a 2-0 victory.
The Raiders, whose college-scouted pitcher, Corey Johnson, tossed a tidy three-hitter, improved to 7-2. The Commodores, whose senior hurler Adam Flynn allowed just two unearned runs, saw their three-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 7-5.
The miscues that led to the Raider runs have been rare for VUHS this season, and Coach George Ringer said he would not lose sleep over them, especially considering other plays that were made — a crisp double play and fine running catches by center fielder Jon Kauffman and left fielder Dylan Bresnick.
“We have one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen,” Ringer said. “So I’m good with that.”
Johnson (three hits, five strikeouts, two walks) and Flynn (seven hits, four strikeouts, no walks) set the tone with 1-2-3 first innings.
In the second, the first two Raiders singled, but Bresnick dove to make a backhand catch for the first out. After a bunt single loaded the bases, Paul Trollinger grounded to second baseman Jackson Alexander, and he and shortstop Cam Curler turned a double play to end the threat.
The Commodores had two of their hits in their half of the second, a single up the middle by Hans Westenfeld and a bunt by Flynn. They reached second and third with two out, but U-32 second basemen Rory McEathron raced into foul territory to snare Cody Steele’s pop-up.
The Raiders broke through in the fourth, when Cody Farrell led off by pounding a double to left. Flynn retired the next two batters, but an error by Alexander allowed the run to score. The ball appeared to take a bad hop, and scorekeeper Roland Guyette said it was the sure-handed Alexander’s first home-field miscue of the season.
The Commodores ran into bad luck in their half of the fourth — three line-drive outs. Curler opened with a shot to the center fielder. Catcher Logan Williams then dropped a double down the right-field line. Westenfeld followed with a drive to left center that the left fielder caught. On a 3-2 count, Flynn hammered an absolute rocket on a hanging curve — right at the left fielder.
“We hit the ball at people a lot,” Ringer said. “We had some really good scoring opportunities ... It was just one of those baseball games. That’s the way it goes.”
In the sixth, U-32 padded its lead. Cody Farrell beat out an infield grounder, and Cory Richardson singled to put runners at the corners. U-32’s Logan Farrell then hit a nubber out in front of the plate. Williams couldn’t come up with it cleanly, and the bases were loaded.
Scott Matheson then drilled a shot deep to right center, but Kauffman raced over to make an over-the-shoulder grab for the first out, limiting U-32 to one run. Flynn got the next two hitters, and it was 2-0.
VUHS put the tying runs on base in the seventh. Flynn scorched one at McEathron, who did well to stop the ball, but made an errant throw to first. With two outs, Kam Brooks worked a walk, but Johnson struck out Bresnick on a caught foul tip on a 3-2 count.
Ringer credited both teams for playing well and reserved his highest praise for Flynn, who showed poise and good control of both his fastball and curve.
“It was the best game I’ve ever seen him pitch,” he said. “He had a very low pitch count. When he got to a frustrating time, he collected himself and settled down.”
Ringer said the Commodores have played with enthusiasm, and with solid pitching and defense — Curler tossed a complete-game win on Thursday — he likes their chances in the upcoming playoffs.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I think we’re going to be ready when it comes time.”