By ANDY KIRKALDY
BURLINGTON — Monday afternoon’s rain let up to allow the Division II high school baseball final to be played at the University of Vermont’s Centennial Field, but unfortunately for top-seeded Mount Abraham, No. 2 Lyndon and ace righthander Buddy Lamothe never let up.
Lamothe tossed a complete-game two-hitter, striking out 16 Eagles and walking just one, as the 18-0 Vikings avenged their 2-0 loss to Mount Abe a year ago with a 9-0 victory this time around.
Coach Jeff Stetson’s Eagles finished at 16-4, a record that included three playoff wins and the Metro Conference co-championship with Essex.
But on Monday, Stetson’s team did not play its best, committing an uncharacteristic five errors, while Lyndon reached Eagle starter Ben Orvis for seven hits, three walks and four earned runs in five and two-thirds innings.
And, as Stetson noted, Lyndon played well, especially Lamothe, who complemented his 90 mph fastball by throwing his breaking pitch for strikes.
“Lyndon was better than us tonight. Buddy dominated on the mound tonight, and we knew he had that ability. We worked to try to shorten up and put it in play, and we didn’t succeed in that. Defensively, it wasn’t our best, but they hit the ball. They earned it. Even if we make all the plays, they’re going to come out on top tonight,” Stetson said. “My hat’s off to them.”
Lyndon’s hitters strung together a series of tough at-bats against Orvis, who tossed six shutout innings a year ago, when he won a pitchers’ duel with Lamothe. The Vikings especially hung tough with two strikes: They made contact for three two-strike singles in their go-ahead two-run second inning, and also only went down in 1-2-3 order once in seven innings.
Michael Cartularo started the second-inning trouble with a one-out single, and Kyle Greenwood poked an opposite-field single with two outs. Orvis then walked No. 9 hitter Joe Riendeau before surrendering a two-out, two-run single to leadoff hitter Brenden Davis.
The Eagles got their first baserunner in the third, when Orvis reached on the Vikings’ only error. He advanced to second on a Ben Capasso sacrifice, but two Lamothe strikeouts — he fanned at least a pair in every inning — squelched the threat.
Mount Abe ran into more trouble in the third, when Lyndon added four runs to make it 6-0, a lead that felt like 60-0 with Lamothe on the mound. Cartularo singled to lead off, and Patrick Hilton reached when the Eagles misplayed his sacrifice bunt. Greenwood laid down a bunt single to load the bases, and then Riendeau singled home two runners, and Greenwood raced home on a throwing error on the play. Riendeau then scored on a Davis groundout.
The Eagles got two runners on in the fifth when Steve Patterson walked and Orvis lined a one-out single to right to break up the no-hit bid. Two more strikeouts ended the rally, however.
Two errors and a single made it 7-0 in the Lyndon sixth and ended Orvis’s night; he finished with five strikeouts. Catcher Dean Butler picked the runner off first to make reliever Shawn Marcelle’s job easier. Earlier, Butler had thrown out a runner trying to steal second.
Lyndon added two runs in the seventh, one on Brennan Parker’s towering homer to left and the other on a Riendeau single that followed a hit batter and a walk, before Mickey O’Connor came on to end the inning on a strikeout.
Sam Lieberman poked a one-out seventh-inning single to right for the Eagles’ second hit of the night, but, unsurprisingly, Lamothe finished with a flourish — two more Ks.
Considering the heavy graduation losses from the 2008 team that won the program’s fourth D-II title of the decade, Stetson said the Eagles should be proud of their season, which he called “a great run.” He pointed to their regular-season win at D-I finalist and perennial power Essex and the Metro title, only Mount Abe’s second ever.
“When Ben Orvis is on the mound and Dean Butler is behind the plate, (shortstop) Kyle Kayhart is the only other starter (from 2008), and he played outfield for us. So basically all seven guys for us running around out there weren’t starting at the varsity level last year,” Stetson said. “So to have a nice run through the season, 16-3, now 16-4, obviously we’d like it to finish a little better tonight, but when we look back at it, we’ll be OK.”