VERGENNES — The host Vergennes Union High School baseball team took an early lead over Middlebury on Tuesday and never looked back, defeating the Tigers, 10-4.
The Commodores improved to 10-5, while the Tigers dropped to 5-9.
Leadoff hitter Colin Babcock started Vergennes’ two-run first inning with a double to left field, and Collin Curler reached on an infield hit and stole second, with Babcock moving to third. Then Devin Hayes hit a sacrifice fly out to center field, driving in Babcock. Timmy Shea reached second base on an error and Curler scored on the play to make it 2-0.
VUHS continued its offense in the second with three more runs, sparked by singles from Will Vaughn, Babcock, and Nick Richer. Babcock drove in a runner, and Curler reached first on an error while a runner scored on the play. Hayes hit another sac fly out to center field with the bases loaded for the Commodores’ fifth run of the night.
Babcock said the early runs were critical.
“We brought the bats out today and we hit their lefty pitcher. We put together some offense,” Babcock said.
Meanwhile, Hayes was dominant on the mound for VUHS. He struck out three in the top of the second, maintaining the Commodore lead.
Middlebury started the third inning off stronger as Marshall Hastings reached second on an error and Dylan Lanpher singled to right field, driving in Hastings for the Tiger’s first run. Lanpher reached second on a wild pitch, Taylor Patterson walked, and Connor Kelley singled, setting up Tyler Provencher’s RBI single.
Commodore courtesy runner Tommy Lee Hodsden stole home in the third to make it 6-2. MUHS starter and losing pitcher Connor Kelley walked catcher Wade Steele, and Hodsden entered and stole second and reached third on senior Nick Paquin’s sacrifice bunt before his theft of home.
The Commodore offense continued in the fifth inning, when they took advantage of Tiger mistakes. Charlie Stapleford singled on a bunt and later scored on an error. Another runner scored on a balk. Richer drove in two runners with a single to left field, extending the lead to 10-2.
VUHS coach George Ringer was happy with his team’s offense, which was paced by Babcock, Curler and Justus Sturtevant with two hits apiece.
“We had a little help, but we put pressure on,” Ringer said.
Hayes struck out two in the sixth to end his day with eight strikeouts; he allowed seven hits and two walks.
Middlebury scored two runs in the seventh off Babcock, who came on in relief. David Burt and Josh Stearns hit RBI singles to left field to score Patterson, who singled, and Provencher, who doubled, to make it 10-4.
Joseph Neidorf and Burt also pitched in relief for the Tigers. Provencher finished with three hits, and Patterson and Stearns singled twice.
Ringer was happy with his team’s effort and execution.
“I was really glad we hit the ball solidly most of the game, and we fielded the ball pretty well. It’s a win,” Ringer said. “It was good for us.”
Seubert said it was a lack of execution that hurt the Tigers the most.
“We didn’t execute, plain and simple. They had some hits, but we self-destructed,” he said.
However, he knows the Tigers are capable of more than they demonstrated on Monday.
“We’re a better ball club than we showed today, but we still scored four runs, and we got the quality hits, but we just had two, three bad innings,” he said.
Seubert credited VUHS for putting pressure on the Tigers, but knows his team can fix its mistakes.
“Give them credit for putting pressure on us, and let’s just step back and kind of reload in terms of what we were doing that was causing us to play a little bit on our heels and what were we doing that was causing some of those problems. They’re correctable,” he said.
Seubert sees potential in the Tigers as they approach the postseason.
“We’ve had some really good games against some of the better teams in the league, some of which we’ve won, and some of which we’ve lost, but lost close. It’s right there on the edge,” Seubert said.
As the Commodores near the postseason, Ringer is feeling good about their chances.
“I’m hopeful going into the end of the season and into playoffs,” he said.
Babcock shared his coach’s opinion, adding that the Commodores will be ready because they play tough Division I games in their regular season.
“We’re a high seed because we play in the Metro Division, we play Division I teams, so I think we’re like two or three in Division II,” Babcock said. “I feel pretty confident about this bunch.”