AARON SMITH PITCHES vs Essex on Saturday./Photo by Alan Kamman
CASTLETON — The Addison County American Legion baseball team started strong at the Vermont tournament, which was contested starting on Thursday, July 24, at Castleton State College and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland.
AC, the Northern Division’s second seed, won its first three games: on Thursday, 5-3 over South No. 3 Lakes Region; on Friday, 15-4 over North No. 4 Colchester, which had upset South No. 1 Rutland; and on Saturday, 5-4 over North No. 1 Essex.
AC took the field on Sunday vs. Colchester, but rain delayed and then darkness halted the action with the score 5-5 midway through the seventh. Officials looked at Monday’s forecast and postponed it until Tuesday at 10 a.m., at Castleton.
One way or another, those three wins assured AC a shot at the title on Tuesday, regardless of how the game with Colchester ends. The Independent plans to cover Tuesday's action in Castleton and publish a report and pictures on Thursday.
If AC wins the suspended game, the local nine would play against Essex 1 p.m., with the state title theirs with a win. A loss in that game vs. Essex would mean a winner-take-all game vs. Essex at 4 p.m. If AC falls to Colchester, Colchester would meet Essex at 1 p.m., and the winner of that game will play AC in a 4 p.m. title game.
In Thursday’s opener, Devin Hayes tossed a complete game, striking out 11, and Wade Steele knocked out three hits to spark the attack. AC took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, with Steele and Dylan Raymond singling home runs off Lakes Region starter Lincoln Pritchard.
Lakes Region scored in the second, when former Otter Valley player Will Claessens singled home a run. AC made it 3-1 in the bottom of the second with an unearned run. Lakes Region scored solo runs in the fourth and fifth to knot the score at 3-3.
AC plated the go-ahead run in the fifth. Steele walked and eventually scored on a Josh Stearns’ single. Another unearned run in the eighth gave Hayes a cushion.
Lakes Region fared better until falling to Essex on Sunday morning. Former OV hurlers Brett Patterson and Justin Owen each picked up wins, vs. Rutland and North No. 3 Franklin, respectively, as their team finished with a 2-2 tournament slate.
On Friday, AC needed only seven innings to take care of Colchester on the mercy rule, amassing 15 hits as well as 15 runs. AC scored three runs in the second, three in the third and nine in the fourth.
Bryce Burrell led the way with three hits, two RBIs and two runs, and Hayes picked up three hits and two runs. Aaron Smith chipped in two hits and an RBI, Steele doubled home a pair, and Raymond, Stearns and Josiah Benoit contributed two hits and two runs apiece.
Sawyer Kamman earned the seven-inning win, allowing eight hits and three walks and striking out six.
Things didn’t come so easily on Sunday vs. North regular season champion Essex. After Smith, who earned the win went a solid seven-plus innings, allowing eight hits, Hayes came on with the bases loaded in the eighth with a one-run lead and none out and preserved the lead.
Second baseman Joe Hounchell snared a liner and doubled a runner off second base to get the key first two outs, and Hayes fanned the next batter. A hit and an error put two batters on in the ninth with two out, but a groundout ended the threat.
AC totaled 13 hits and scored four times in the fifth inning to take a 5-2 lead. In the fifth, AC parlayed four hits and two errors into the four-run rally. The big blows were Steele’s two-run double and Hounchell’s RBI single. Steele and Hounchell finished with three hits apiece.
DYLAN RAYMOND HIGH fives Aaron Smith after getting a hit. vs Colchester on Friday./Photo by Alan Kamman