Rice bats hot in win at Mount Abe
BRISTOL — The Rice baseball team came to Mount Abraham Union High School on Tuesday as the winner of four straight, while the Eagles entered the game on a three-game slide, including allowing Otter Valley to rally for a win on the previous Friday.
Unfortunately for Coach Jeff Stetson’s squad, those trends did not reverse on Tuesday — Rice pounded out 16 hits off four pitchers, scored 12 runs in the first two innings, and improved to 8-3 with a 19-3, six-inning victory.
“They just hit the ball well today from beginning to end,” Stetson said. “I didn’t feel like we made glaring defensive mistakes that extended innings. It’s just everything we threw, they hit.”
The good news for his team, Stetson said, is that their 3-9 record is not due to a lack of effort.
“I’ve got to give the kids credit,” he said. “They come out to practice every day, still working very hard, still positive attitudes.”
But in the short Vermont season, not everything has come together at the same time, at least not yet, Stetson said.
“One day we don’t make enough plays defensively. One day we don’t hit the ball at all,” he said. “We had our opportunities last week on Friday to come up with a big win, and couldn’t finish it.”
And some days you just have to tip your hat to your opponents. That’s what Stetson said he told the Eagles after Tuesday.
“The message is it’s one of those days where they hit everything we threw up there, and there’s going to be days like that. And we just have to make sure we keep working hard,” he said.
Some of the damage Rice did on Tuesday was courtesy of two senior Addison County athletes. Second baseman Timmy Shea, a former Vergennes Union baseball player and Middlebury Union hockey player, singled twice to drive in three runs, doubled twice and scored twice. Left fielder Jonas Hastings, a former MUHS baseball and football player, singled twice and drove in a run.
Rice scored six runs in the first off Eagle ace Sawyer Kamman, who uncharacteristically struggled with his control. After a walk, an infield hit and two stolen bases, Shea singled home the game’s first two runs. After another walk, Shea scored on a Chris Jansen double. After a walk and a wild pitch made it 4-0, Hastings singled in a run. The final run scored on an errant throw.
Shea doubled to lead off the second, and after Kamman walked the next batter, his fifth, Stetson decided to save him for another day and called Joey Payea to the mound. A Sean Remillard single, a walk and a Henry Conroy single brought home the inherited runners. Then singles by Cameron Bourbeau, Anthony Philip and Shea produced four more runs and made it 12-0.
Rice added two more in the third off Payea on singles by Remillard and Conroy, an error, and a Bourbeau sacrifice fly.
Conroy pitched two scoreless innings to open the game, and Bourbeau came on to pitch the final four innings. The Eagles broke through in the third when Mike Jerome reached on an error, catcher Ethan Gendreau doubled him to third, and both scored on passed balls.
Rice got a run in the fourth when reliever Brandon Mansfield hit a batter with the bases loaded and no one out, but Mansfield worked out of further trouble. The Eagles got their final run in the fourth, when Payea singled, moved up when Barry Longe walked, and scored on a Jerome single.
Rice made it 16-3 in the fifth on a hit-batsman, a Shea double and a groundout, and then added three in the sixth off Mansfield on a walk, an error, Tommy Fitzgerald’s two-run triple, and a sacrifice fly. Jerome came on to get the final out before the Eagles went quietly in the sixth, ending the game on the 15-run rule.
The Eagles were hoping weather would allow them to bounce back at North Country on Thursday. If not, Stetson said they would aim to play that game on Wednesday. They are set to host Spaulding on Tuesday and St. Albans next Thursday.
They hope the effort will translate into results in those games and in the Division II playoffs.
“Maybe this is one of these years where the lesson is hard work alone doesn’t always translate into wins,” Stetson said. “But in life lessons, if you keep working hard, eventually good things are going to happen. So we’re just going to try to keep working hard and try to turn things around.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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