Local Legion cruises in three big victories

BRISTOL — The Addison County Legion baseball team made a strong statement in defense of its 2008 title with a series of decisive wins during the past few days, beginning with a double-header sweep of the South Burlington Knights on Saturday and 20-2 drubbing of Franklin County on Monday.
Former Vergennes Union High School pitching star Corey Haight got the local nine off to a promising start in the first of Saturday’s twin-bill at the Mount Abraham Union High School field, striking out nine in four-and-one-third innings in a 9-3 victory over South Burlington.
Addison County’s bats and Sean Harrison’s pitching made quick work of the Knights in the second game, a mercy rule-shortened, five-inning affair that ended with the local nine on top, 18-1.
It looked like it could be a long day for Addison County at the beginning of the first game of Saturday’s double-header in Bristol. The Knights moved out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Deven Savage walked, then scored on a double by pitcher Josh Blow after a Jordan Lieberman strike out. Blow advanced to third on a Devon Hathaway ground-out, then scored on an RBI single by Jared Candib.
The local nine got a run back in the bottom of the first. Chad Estey walked and advanced to third on a single by Dean Butler. Estey then scored on a ground-out by Kyle Kayhart, to make it 2-1, Knights.
Both pitchers settled down in the second inning, with Haight striking out the side, sandwiched around a harmless walk. Blow retired Addison County in order in the bottom of the second.
But this proved to be the quiet before the storm, as Addison County roared to a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the third.
Estey led off the inning with an infield single, then advanced to second on a single by Butler. Both runners advanced one base on a Kayhart groundout. Estey flew home to tie the game on a single to leftfield by Greg Lutton, with Butler advancing to third. After Haight struck out, Jackson Alexander gave AC Legion the lead with a single to left that scored Butler. Ben Orvis then walked to load the bases, and Logan Williams plated a pair with a single, to make it 5-2, Addison County. The home team added a sixth run in the frame when Orvis scored from third base on Blow’s wild pitch.
Haight made sure the Knights could not respond in the top of the fourth inning. Again, he struck out the side, this time after hitting Chris Blain with a pitch.
Haight would leave the game in the top of the fifth after experiencing some soreness. He had walked the lead-off man, Savage, who stole second base and then advanced to third on a groundout by Lieberman. Savage then scored on an RBI single by Blow.
But AC relief pitcher Mickey O’Connor quickly put out the fire, striking out the next two batters to end the fifth with no further damage.
Addison County added a run of its own in the bottom of the fifth, on an RBI single by Williams to score Alexander, who had doubled earlier in the inning. With the score 7-3, AC Legion secured two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, on an RBI single by Kayhart and an RBI double by O’Connor.
AC Legion coach Mike Estey praised Haight and the offense for grinding out a good win, under less than ideal weather conditions. The twin-bill began two hours earlier (11 a.m.) than originally scheduled due to rain forecasts. Even so, batters found themselves hitting the ball into the teeth of a fierce wind, which made long singles out of what would normally be some extra-base hits.
“When Corey (Haight) starts, that’s always a benefit,” Estey said after the game. “He threw well.”
Estey also gave kudos to O’Connor for his relief work.
“That was awesome to see, because we need people to throw like that,” he said.
While the first game provided a little early suspense, the outcome of the Saturday’s second game was not in doubt for very long.
Harrison took the mound for AC and set the Knights down in order on six pitches. The local team’s offense got to work quickly in the bottom of the frame, as Butler set the table with a triple and then scored on a Kayhart single to make it 1-0.
AC tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the third, on a Butler RBI ground-out, a Harrison two-run single and an error by the South Burlington first-baseman.
With Addison County up 5-0, South Burlington scored its lone run of the contest in the top of the fourth inning, on an RBI double by Ethan Hanson.
The floodgates then opened for Addison County in the bottom of the fourth, when the local nine plated 13 runs. Estey and Butler led the frame with singles and scored on a wind piercing bomb by Kayhart.
Other offensive stars of the inning included Shawn Marcelle, who stroked a two-run single; Estey, who belted a three-run homer; and Butler and Lutton, who added RBI doubles.
Estey and Butler would each collect three hits during the abbreviated game, while Kayhart went two for two with four RBIs.
Harrison threw only 62 pitches for the win, recording five punch-outs in the process.
Addison County continued steamrolling the opposition on Monday, when it put together a late-inning onslaught against host Franklin County.
Former Mount Abe stand-out southpaw Greg Lutton took the hill and held Franklin County to one hit over four-and-a-third innings, striking out five.
AC got a gift run in the first on a series of Franklin County errors that allowed Dean Butler to score without the benefit of a hit.
The Addison County nine added three more runs in both the second and fourth innings, before letting loose with a whopping 13 runs in the seventh frame. Offensive stars included Estey, who had two RBI singles in the seventh; Seth Delorme, who logged an RBI single and a bases-clearing double in the final inning; Butler; O’Connor; Kayhart; and Jackson Downey-Teachout.
Franklin scored its two runs in the fifth inning off of reliever Ben Orvis.
The most recent wins boosted AC’s record to 10-3 in the Legion’s Northern Division. AC was scheduled to host Franklin County on Wednesday after the deadline for this edition of the Independent and arch-rival Essex Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., at Mount Abraham.

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