MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County American Legion baseball team bounced back from its first two losses of the season with wins on Monday and Tuesday and remains in good position for a postseason playoff berth.
On Tuesday, AC knocked off host Burlington, 8-0, and on Monday, AC defeated visiting Essex, 5-1. Those results followed a pair of losses to South Burlington, 8-0 on the road on Saturday and 8-6 at home on July 5.
AC stands at 6-2 in third place in the Northern Division, just behind second place South Burlington (7-2) and just ahead of fourth-place Essex (6-3). Colchester, with one loss heading into Tuesday, is in first, and S.D. Ireland (4-6) is in fifth. The top four teams will make the playoffs.
In upcoming games, AC will play at last-place Montpelier on Thursday, play a make-up game on Saturday at SDI, host sixth-place Franklin in a Sunday doubleheader that begins at 11 a.m., and entertain Colchester on Monday and Montpelier on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Devin Hayes sparked AC’s 8-0 win over seventh-place Burlington by tossing four scoreless innings, driving in two runs with a pair of doubles, and scoring twice. Hayes allowed two hits in the four innings and fanned five.
Sawyer Kamman contributed a triple and three RBIs to AC’s cause, and Ian Campbell and Nick Richer knocked out two hits apiece as AC improved to 6-2 in the league and 9-2 overall.
AC TOPS ESSEX
Monday’s 5-1 win over Essex was probably more critical, as AC leapfrogged Essex in the standings as well as got back into the win column.
Charlie Stapleford picked up the complete-game pitching win, his fourth for the team, with seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out five and walking four. Both hits he surrendered came in the first, a double and triple that produced the only Essex run.
“He threw extremely well,” said AC coach Mike Estey.
AC tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Marshall Hayes walked, stole second and scored on a Hayes triple.
AC took the lead with two in the third. After Kamman singled and Hayes reached on an error, Tommy Nelson doubled Kamman home and Hayes scored on Campbell’s squeeze bunt.
The lead grew to 4-1 in the fourth when Richer singled, Hastings walked and Hayes poked an RBI single. AC manufactured its final run in the sixth when Hastings walked for the third time and stole second and third. He scored after Kamman walked and stole second and drew a bad throw.
Estey credited the defense of Nelson at third and Kamman at short, and said he was pleased with the team’s focus after its first two losses.
“We played really well from the get-go, lots of energy,” he said.
On Saturday, host South Burlington’s Devin Rollins tossed a one-hit shutout at AC in SB’s 8-0 win. Campbell broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth.
AC’s other highlight was a solid relief stint by Mark Dickerson, who allowed one run on two hits and two walks in five innings, striking out four. Nelson took the loss, surrendering five earned runs in four innings.
On July 5, AC took a 4-0 lead over visiting SB, but SB got two back and then scored six runs in the fourth off Hayes on the way to the 8-6 victory. Hayes allowed five earned runs in five innings, and Dickerson tossed a scoreless relief inning.
AC scored three in the first, courtesy of a walk to Ian Shaw, two errors, and Casey Covey’s two-run single, the first of his three hits on the day. AC added a run in the second on a Campbell single, an error and an RBI grounder by Collin Curler.
The home team rallied for two runs in the sixth to make it an 8-6 final. Nick Richer doubled, and Shaw singled him home. Shaw stole second and scored on a Hayes single, but the comeback stalled there.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonind