AC nips Burlington, remains unbeaten

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County American Legion baseball team got combined one-hit pitching from Sawyer Kamman and Charlie Stapleford on Thursday to defeat visiting Burlington, 2-1, and remain unbeaten at 5-0, 2-0 in Northern Division games, heading into weekend play.
AC was set to play a Sunday doubleheader at league rival Orleans-Essex-Caledonia, with Coach Mike Estey ready to send out some combination of aces Tommy Nelson, Devin Hayes and Stapleford to the mound.
Thursday’s win over Burlington showcased an encouraging outing from Kamman, who was coming off a six-inning scoreless stint vs. OEC in a non-league game five days earlier.
Against Burlington he tossed five innings and allowed one unearned run and one hit. Kamman struck out four, although his control was not as sharp as it was vs. OEC, when he walked none — on Thursday he walked three and hit a batter.
Stapleford threw two hitless innings, fanning one, walking one and earning his third win of the summer when AC snapped a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth.
Catcher Nick Ouellette — who drove in the winning run, doubled and caught two runners stealing — said both pitchers did their jobs well and received strong defensive support.
“They were throwing strikes and they were trying to make our defense make the plays,” Ouellette said. “They were on it today.”
Coach Estey said he was also pleased with his pitchers.
“Sawyer … kept us in the ballgame, made some pitches when he had to,” Estey said. “And an outstanding job by Charlie coming in and throwing strikes.”
AC made key defensive plays. In the second, Kamman walked the leadoff hitter, and Austin Pine grounded up the middle. Shortstop Collin Curler ranged to his left, danced to the bag and turned the double play. In the third with two out and a runner on, Stapleford, then in left, made an over-the-shoulder grab of Phil Comeau’s long drive. In the seventh, left fielder Ian Shaw ended the inning with a long run to snatch a foul fly with the go-ahead run on second base.
In the fourth, Ouellette ended the inning by catching a runner stealing, and in the seventh Ouellette threw out the potential tying run at second.
Ouellette, who said counting his high school season at Mount Abraham he has caught 17 runners stealing this year, talked about AC in the field.
“We don’t miss many ground balls. We have pretty hard practices. We focus on the little things and then we do it out here,” he said. “Our outfield is pretty quick. We can cover a lot of ground.”
At the plate, AC managed five hits, including three doubles, off Burlington starter Frank Grady, who struck out five and walked one. AC also hit other balls solidly, but into bad luck. Notably, first baseman Wade Steele struck a 380-footer out to center and Stapleford smoked a liner straight to the right fielder.
“We stroked the ball hard at places, but right at people,” Estey said.
AC took the lead in the first. Marshall Hastings led off with a double, moved to third on Shaw’s grounder to second, and scored on Hayes’ grounder to short. AC then got two runners on in each of the second and third innings, but Grady wriggled off the hook.
AC’s 1-0 lead stood until the fifth. Joe Boardman drew a one-out walk from Kamman after fouling off a half-dozen pitches, and stole second. Ouellette’s throw skipped past the bag far enough to allow Boardman to reach third, and he scored on Dylan French’s groundout. Malcolm Huesman followed by doubling to deep left center for the only Burlington hit, but Kamman ended the Lynx threat with a strikeout.
In the sixth Nelson led off with his second hit of the day, a line-drive double to deep right center. Grady got lucky when Stapleford lined out, but he walked Curler and then bounced a pitch past his catcher to put runners on second and third with one out.
That brought Ouellette up, and Grady quickly got two strikes on the AC catcher. But Ouellette put a tough pitch in play to the shortstop’s left, and Nelson scored easily.
Stapleford then shut the door, and AC remained undefeated — and confident.
“We don’t have a lot of power hitters, but we have a lot of good athletes that can play just about anywhere we need them,” Ouellette said. “We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
Estey also said he was happy to be 2-0 in the league after what he called an important win.
“I think we’re good to go,” he said. “I’m liking the team. I’m liking the makeup.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent

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