Legion breaks out the bats for first victory

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County legion baseball team rallied from a five-run deficit to pummel visiting SD Ireland, 16-6, on Tuesday, improving to 1-4 on the season, 1-2 in the Northern Division.
The key to the victory was an offensive breakout that came after AC had struggled at the plate in its previous outings.
“I think we finally hit like we can,” said AC second baseman Marshall Hastings. “We were aggressive and we made really good contact.”
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Tommy Nelson got the start for AC and pitched two scoreless innings before getting hit in the forearm by a screaming line drive in the third. David Burt came on to finish the inning, and two runs scored on a Nicky Elderton triple and a Sean Rugg single before Burt induced a strike out and a pop up for the final two outs. One run was charged to each pitcher.
AC catcher Logan Williams got the first of his three RBIs in the bottom of the third, singling home Hastings, who had reached on a base hit and advanced on a walk to Devin Hayes.
SDI took a 6-1 lead in the fourth, scoring four runs on consecutive hits from Will Conroy, Shane Delabruere, Drew Nick, Elderton and Rugg.
AC’s players knew their bats had to come alive in this game to pull out a victory, and they made it happen. They had not scored more than four runs in a game yet this season, but surpassed that number in just one inning on Tuesday, scoring five runs in the fourth to knot the game at 6-6.
Nate Taber and Collin Curler led off the bottom of the fourth with singles off of SDI pitcher Dylan Ireland. Taber came home on a single from Dylan Bresnick, before another hit from Hastings loaded the bases for Hayes. He delivered, smacking a double and plating two more runs. Hayes came around on a sacrifice fly from Charlie Stapleford for the inning’s fifth and final run.
“In the first couple games we hadn’t been able to get the big hit when we needed it,” said Hastings. “We definitely managed to do that today.”
The game would not stay tied for long.
After Hayes relieved Burt in the fifth and retired three in a row, AC unleashed in the bottom of the inning, sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring eight more runs.
Taber again led off with a single, and made it to second on an error. Jackson Alexander and Bresnick each knocked a run home, before Hayes reached on an error. Williams then collected his third RBI with a base hit to plate Bresnick.
After a walk to Stapleford to load the bases, pinch hitter Anthony Vanderwalker delivered another big hit, clearing the bases with a double to make it 12-6. Taber came to the plate again, doubling home Vanderwalker for his second hit of the inning. Curler singled home Taber for the inning’s final run, giving AC a healthy 14-6 advantage.
Hayes walked the bases loaded in the sixth, but pitched out of trouble. Curler made a spectacular diving catch at shortstop to rob Elderton, and Hayes fielded a groundout himself before getting his second strike out to end the inning with no damage.
AC scored two more in the sixth off reliever Dan French, with Mark Dickerson and Nick Richer both reaching base and scoring in pinch-hit appearances. Dickerson walked and had AC’s only stolen base of the game, and Richer singled him in. Williams singled, and French forced in the final run by hitting Vanderwalker and walking Taber.
SDI put two on base in their final inning after a two-out walk to Jeff Badger and a single from Nick. They would not score, however, as Hayes closed out the game by getting Elderton to ground out to Wade Steele at first base.
SDI coach Jim Neidlinger said AC’s big fifth inning made it hard for his team to stay in the game.
“It knocks you a little bit flat when that happens,” said Neidlinger. “It’s not like we threw the ball all over the place in that inning, they just got hits. They beat us up today.”
AC coach Mike Estey was pleased with his team’s hitting performance, and gave the game ball to Williams, who was four-for-five. But it was his performance as catcher, including throwing out a runner stealing, that Estey felt deserved special recognition.
“He did an awesome job behind the plate for us,” said Estey. “He really took control of the game.”
Losing a starting pitcher in the middle of a strong performance can often take a team out of a game. But Estey said Burt pitched very well in relief, and Williams was a big part of that.
“David Burt did a nice job for us coming on in a pinch. He hasn’t thrown any innings for us, but we threw him out there and he responded very well,” Estey said.
Hastings knew his team could hit like this, and that it was just a matter of time before they strung the hits together.
“We just came together and got it going at the right time,” said Hastings, “and (we) finally found the holes that we knew we could find.”
Visit addisonindependent.com to see a slideshow of photos from the game.
Reporter Ian Trombulak is at [email protected]

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