Commodores topple Tigers in playoff game
VERGENNES — The host Vergennes Union High School baseball team hit well and took advantage of early Middlebury defensive lapses in a Friday Division II quarterfinal, and VUHS earned a surprisingly one-sided 16-4 win.
Every player in the VUHS starting lineup reached base, and all but one scored.
“We haven’t been hitting the ball that well,” said VUHS coach George Ringer. “Today we actually started to hit the baseball.”
Most of the runs came early on, when the 8-10 Commodores scored five runs in the second and six in the third. Eight of those 11 runs came with two outs in the innings.
Get into the game
Click here to view more images from the Commodores’ victory, accompanied by thoughts from the coaches and co-captains of both Addison County teams.
Senior Brendan Burrell started for the Tigers, who upset No. 2 Fair Haven in the first round and hoped to keep rolling at VUHS.
VUHS scored once in the first. Leadoff hitter Colin Babcock walked, stole second and came around on two groundouts, with Charlie Stapleford picking up the first of his five RBIs.
In the second first baseman Andrew Lucia — one of only two seniors in the VUHS lineup — led off with a double. Shortstop Collin Curler and pitcher Devin Hayes singled, scoring Lucia.
Curler scored on a passed ball after DH Ryan Crowningshield fielder’s choice groundout, and Burrell fanned the next hitter for the second out. But Babcock reached on an error after the Tigers had dropped his foul pop, scoring another run. Senior third baseman Dylan Bresnick walked, and a Stapleford triple made it 6-0.
“They gave us two chances to get out of the inning before they scored any more runs,” said MUHS coach Doc Seubert.
In the third, things didn’t get better for a Tiger team that also started only two seniors. The Commodores just kept hitting on what Bresnick said was a break-through day.
“We haven’t been able to hit all year,” said Bresnick. “We adjusted, and just unleashed … We were so pumped up.”
The Commodores’ first run in the third came on a Hayes sacrifice fly to score Curler, who had doubled and moved up on a passed ball. Second baseman Richer and Crowningshield singled, but the Tigers appeared to get the inning’s third out when Babcock swung and missed at a strike three.
But it was dropped; regardless, the home plate umpire first ruled Babcock out because first base was occupied. The Tigers headed toward the dugout as the runners rounded the bases and Babcock reached first uncontested. Richer made it to second, and Crowningshield scored before the umpires gathered to review the play. They eventually decided to let it stand, to Seubert’s dismay.
“I’ve never seen a call like that, and (the umpire) knew he was wrong,” said Seubert.
After Bresnick reached on an error, Stapleford doubled home Richer and Babcock and moved Bresnick to third. Catcher Wade Steele reached on an error that plated Stapleford and Bresnick, and it was 12-0.
Tiger second baseman and co-captain Marshall Hastings said things snowballed for the Tigers.
“One play just led to the next,” Hastings said. “They found the holes in our defense, and took advantage. I mean, you’ve got to give them credit.”
From that point on, the teams played even baseball, each scoring four runs.
Hastings doubled to lead off the Tiger fourth. David Burt singled, and Hastings scored on Tyler Provencher’s RBI fielder’s choice. Dylan Lanpher doubled Provencher to third, but Hayes worked out of trouble.
Hayes, who like Stapleford picked up five RBIs, went 5.1 innings for VUHS, allowing one earned run, a walk, eight hits, and struck out one to earn the win.
“I felt good,” he said. “I had my pitches working out there.”
In the fourth, Hayes launched his first career home run after Lucia and Curler had singled, and it was 15-1.
After Crowningshield doubled, junior Connor Kelley relieved Burrell and ended the threat. Kelley threw well, allowing only one run in the sixth, when Tim Shea doubled in Richer.
Kelley also singled home Provencher in the sixth to make it 15-2. Lucia came on to relieve Hayes, and squashed the Tiger rally.
In the sixth, Curler had to be carried off the field after taking a spike to the foot in a play at second base. The Commodores were concerned for their co-captain, who was on his way to Porter Hospital by the end of the game.
“He’s a big part of our team,” said Bresnick.
Asked if he would be able to play the rest of the playoffs, Ringer was unsure but optimistic about Curler, who doubled, singled twice, scored three runs and played excellent defense before leaving.
“I have a pretty good feeling (he’ll be back),” said the coach. “He’s a pretty tough guy.”
The Tigers scored two in the seventh. Walks to Pat Foley and Burt and a Hastings single loaded the bases, and a Provencher double brought Foley and Hastings in before Babcock came on to get the final two outs.
Hastings was happy with his team’s late inning efforts, but said it was the Commodores’ day.
“It’s tough to swallow, but that’s a good team over there,” said Hastings. “We didn’t put together our best effort, but all the credit to them. They played a great game, and on this day they were the better team.”
Seubert is proud of his team — which went 4-2 against D-II team, with both losses to VUHS — despite Friday’s disappointment.
“(They) had some really good battles down the stretch and won a couple of nice ballgames,” he said. “We just didn’t have Vergennes’ number either time this year, and that’s just the way it goes.”
Ringer is hopeful the Commodores’ offensive showing will carry over to their Tuesday semifinal at No. 3 Missisquoi, which defeated Vergennes, 10-0, in the regular season.
“I think we owe them something,” said Ringer. “(Our bats have) been up and down all season, so I’m hoping this is going to put a charge in them.”
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