Eagles pound out semifinal victory vs. U-32
BRISTOL — The top-seeded Mount Abraham Union High School baseball team earned a spot in the Division II final by coasting past visiting No. 13 U-32 on Tuesday, 16-1, in five innings.
In the final, the Eagles will meet No. 3 Burr & Burton, an 18-1 winner over No. 2 Mill River in Tuesday’s other semifinal. That game will be played at 6 p.m. on Monday at the Montpelier Recreation Park field.
The 14-5 Eagles and 12-7 Bulldogs did not face each other this spring, but the Eagles eliminated the Bulldogs in a quarterfinal a year ago, 18-2. Burr & Burton did not throw sophomore ace Jake Oliver in that game, however; Oliver threw a one-hitter in the win over Mill River this week, and the Eagles can expect to see him on Monday.
Coach Jeff Stetson will probably counter with senior ace Shawn Marcelle, who tossed four innings of three-hit ball vs. U-32 on Tuesday, allowing one walk and striking out seven. Marcelle has started all three games for the Eagles this postseason, allowed three runs in a total of 14 innings after leaving early twice after Mount Abe took big leads.
On Tuesday, Marcelle left with the Eagles up, 7-1, after four innings. After Mickey O’Connor tossed a 1-2-3 fifth, the Eagles erupted for nine runs in the bottom of the inning to end the game on the 15-run mercy rule.
Stetson said he was happy with the Eagles’ effort against the 6-11 Raiders, who reached the semifinal with consecutive upsets.
“They came out and played well,” Stetson said. “They put the ball in play and hit the ball hard, and Shawn threw pretty well.”
The Eagles started their scoring parade with a pair of runs in the first off U-32 starter Torrie Weston. After Andrew Pouliot and Sam Lieberman walked, Steve Patterson brought them both home with a two-out triple.
The Eagles added five runs in the third off Weston and reliever Logan Farrell. Marcelle singled and Pouliot reached on an error. Ryan Siegle and Patterson followed with RBI singles, and Ethan Heffernan lined a two-run double. Heffernan moved up on a passed ball and scored on O’Connor’s sacrifice fly.
U-32 got its run in the fourth. Paul Trollinger and Corey Johnson singled, and Dillon Pecor walked to load the bases. Trollinger scored on Kyler Weaver’s fielder’s choice grounder before Marcelle ended the threat with a strikeout.
After O’Connor’s easy fifth, the Eagles salted the game away against the Raiders’ third pitcher, Calvin McEathron. Marcelle singled and stole second, and Pouliot doubled him home. Lieberman singled in Pouliot, and Lieberman walked. After McEathron got the second out, Heffernan reached on an error to prolong the inning.
O’Connor and Shawn Thurber followed with RBI hits, Andrew Doucette reached on another error, Marcelle walked, Pouliot’s second hit of the inning drove in a run, and Lieberman ended the game with a two-run double.
Now, the Eagles will make their fifth straight appearance in the D-II title game and have a chance for the program’s third crown since 2006.
Considering the heavy graduation losses from last year’s top-seeded team, Stetson said this year’s group can already be proud of what it has achieved.
“I’m excited for this crew to reach the championship,” Stetson said. “It’s a great feather in their cap.”
Andy Kirkaldy is at firstname.lastname@example.org.