Legion baseball takes win in summer’s first outing
MIDDLEBURY — In its season opener on Thursday, the Addison County American Legion baseball team displayed the explosive offense and solid pitching and defense that the local nine hopes will carry them to the Northern Division playoffs and beyond this summer.
The result at the Middlebury College field was a 9-3 win over S.D. Ireland that AC broke open with a five-run fifth inning that made a winner of reliever Sean Harrison, who tossed 3.1 steady innings and knocked in two runs, including one in the big rally.
AC’s big inning started with AC trailing, 2-1. Right fielder Dylan Bresnick singled to lead off, and Logan Williams and shortstop Cam Curler, each of whom had three hits, followed with back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases. Left fielder Seth Delorme scored Bresnick with a ground ball to short, and he reached when Chittenden County-based SDI tried and failed to force Bresnick at home.
Kyle Kayhart’s infield single scored Williams, and Harrison singled in Curler. Ben Orvis, who started the game on the pitcher’s mound and allowed one earned run in three innings, drilled AC’s fifth single of the inning to score Delorme and Kayhart. ACI reliever Theron Fuller eventually bailed losing pitcher Andy Kent out of further trouble, but the damage was done.
Curler — a team veteran who tripled, scored twice and turned a key double play in the first inning — said Thursday’s result was important for AC, which has high hopes this summer after winning the state title two years ago and the Northern Division crown in 2009, but has a few new faces to work into the lineup.
“It was a big game, a slow start, and then we came together in the fifth inning. That’s the big question mark, when are we going to come together? How long is it going to take?” Curler said. “Really, we picked our team Tuesday night. This is our first time on the field knowing what our team is. So that is the question mark.”
Orvis, another veteran, started and threw three innings. He ran into trouble in the first, when SDI loaded the bases with none out on an error, a wild pitch on a swinging third strike, and a walk. One run scored on Nick Elderton’s groundout, but Orvis got Kent to ground up the middle to Curler, who stepped on second and tossed to first to end the threat.
Curler also tossed out a runner trying to reach third after an errant Orvis second-inning pickoff attempt, and Kayhart ended the third with an over-the-shoulder catch of a ball in center field. Orvis struck out five and allowed one hit and two walks.
AC tied the game in the third. Bresnick and Williams singled to lead off and advanced on a wild pitch. Delorme plated Bresnick with a groundout.
Harrison came on in the third, and he and AC flashed the leather to keep SDI off the board. A walk and a double put runners on second and third with none out, but Harrison and Williams held the runners with good plays on ground balls, and Kayhart made an outstanding running catch running toward right center to end the inning.
SDI did take a short-lived, 2-1 lead in the fifth on Ryan Machavern’s double and Colin Teator’s single, but AC’s big inning erased that slim margin.
After Harrison got a 1-2-3 inning in the SDI sixth, AC then added three more runs in the bottom of the inning by breaking out the heavy aluminum. Williams doubled to right center, and Curler drilled a towering triple to center to score Williams. Delorme lined a sacrifice fly to right to score Curler, and after Kayhart one-hopped the right-field fence with a triple, Harrison picked up an RBI with a hard-hit grounder.
SDI picked up a run in the seventh on two singles and two walks off Harrison, but Curler came on to shut the door with a strikeout and groundout.
Coach Mike Estey said he feels AC can contend for the title again this summer.
“Addison County baseball is solid,” he said. “We’re excited.”
Orvis, Harrison, Williams, Kayhart, Delorme, Mickey O’Connor and Cam Curler will handle the pitching. Dean Butler returns as the No. 1 catcher, with Williams and Nick Oullette available there.
Orvis and O’Connor will handle first, and Collin Curler, Marshall Hastings and, when his knee is health by late July, Jackson Alexander, are all available at second base. Cam Curler is the top shortstop, with younger brother Collin the backup. Harrison and Williams are the third baseman, and Williams can also back up elsewhere in the infield.
Delorme and Kayhart will see most of the action in left and center fields, respectively, and Bresnick, Hastings, Butler and other players could rotate through right field.
As well as talent and a solid core of veterans, Estey said many players have championship experience, both with Mount Abraham and Vergennes union high school squads as well as AC.
“We’ve got some great leadership,” Estey said.
Curler said it will be important for AC to remember last summer’s playoff disappointment, when it lost in the playoffs.
“I feel good about the team. We’ve got enough talent,” Curler said. “The key is going to be playing good hard baseball. We shied away from that at the end of last year, I think mainly because we spent most of the last two years whupping on teams. But we’ve got to just play hard early, and we’ve got to play hard come playoff time. And the only way we’re going to know how to do that is by playing one way all season long.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].