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In high school baseball, Tigers top visiting Commodores

ADDISON COUNTY — The Middlebury Union High School baseball team’s first win since 2014 — which came at the expense of county rival Vergennes — highlighted local high school baseball in the latter half of last week.
Unfortunately, that Thursday afternoon victory proved to be the only collective positive result, as MUHS, VUHS, Mount Abraham and Otter Valley all came up short in a series of other games, all against top Division I competition.
MUHS VS. VUHS
On Thursday, the Tigers used two big innings, a four-run third and a five-run sixth, to subdue the Commodores, 9-3. Senior hurler Bruce Wright earned the complete-game win, allowing six hits and two earned runs, while walking two and striking out six.
MUHS Coach Charlie Messenger said the result should give his team a shot in the arm.
“It keeps their heads in the game. It keeps us on track as far as the practices and our work ethic. It shows that things are paying off,” Messenger said. “Not only was it a win, but it was a county rival. It’s big. They’ve been beating us the past few years. They’ve had good clubs. So this was a big win for the kids.”
VUHS Coach Dwight Burkett tipped his cap to the Commodores, but was not happy about his team’s mistakes.
“We had a couple innings where nobody executed,” Burkett said. “We didn’t execute and Middlebury did. They played a better ballgame. We need to play better.”
The Commodores took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Josh Sickles reached on an infield hit, moved to third on a stolen base and ground out, and scored on Devon Kimball’s infield hit.
The Tigers rallied for four runs, two earned, in the third off losing pitcher Hunter O’Connor (six hits, six strikeouts, six earned runs, four walks and a hit batter in six innings).
O’Connor walked Skyler Devlin, who was then erased when Pierson Beatty reached on a fielder’s choice. Austin Friend singled to put runners on first and second, and Simon Fischer followed with a sacrifice bunt. A throwing error allowed Fischer to reach, and the Commodores then botched a rundown when Fischer rounded first too far, allowing Beatty to score, with Friend behind him on the errant throw home.
Patrick Messenger reached on an infield hit and stole second, and Fischer scored and Messenger reached third on a passed ball. Messenger came home on Wright’s infield hit to cap the rally.
VUHS got a run back in the fourth. O’Connor reached on an error and scored on a Kimball double. But Wright remained in control: By throwing curves for strikes, often on the first pitch to hitters, Wright kept the Commodores guessing.
“He kept them a little off-balance with his curveball,” Messenger said.
The Commodores did have a golden chance to tie the game in the sixth. With two out, O’Connor singled and stole second and third. Devon Kimball walked, bringing Casey Kimball to the plate. With Devon Kimball running on the pitch, Casey Kimball laced a line drive — but right at Friend, the Tiger third baseman.
“We had everything going,” Burkett said. “I had a hit-and-run on. We had two runners on and a line drive down the third-base line. What are you going to do? That ball gets through and you’ve got a tie game.”
Regardless, the Tigers scored five times in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to two one-out VUHS miscues: a dropped fly ball and a failure to touch second base to get a force out after a ground ball with runners on first and second. The Tigers made the Commodores pay with RBI singles from Friend and Messenger and another RBI grounder from Wright. O’Connor also hit Fischer with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run.
The Commodores scored in the seventh on singles by Will Wormer andTom Richards and the only two walks Wright issued. But Wright picked a runner off second base and induced a groundout to end the threat.
In all, Coach Messenger saw progress.
“We’ve been improving every game. Not as much as I would like, but as long as we’re going in this direction I’m pleased,” he said.
COMMODORES
On Wednesday, visiting Mount Mansfield blanked the Commodores, 13-0. Wormer took the loss for VUHS.
On Saturday, Burlington’s Saul Minaya tossed a six-inning no-hitter vs. the Commodores in a 17-0, six-inning victory that dropped the Commodores to 1-5,
EAGLES
On Wednesday, the Eagle offense broke loose, but Mount Abe couldn’t hold a late lead in an 18-12 loss to visiting Burlington, which scored nine times in the final two innings. Anthony Robideau tripled and doubled for Mount Abe, and Coleman Russell,Dustin Whitcomb,Chris Wood,George Bailey andKeion Correll added two hits apiece.
On Thursday, host Essex rolled past the Eagles, 14-1. Bailey added two more hits for the Eagles and scored their run. Adam Whitcomb took the pitching loss.
On Saturday, visiting BFA-St. Albans topped the 0-5 Eagles, 7-1. Wyatt Gendreau’s double was the only Eagle hit, and Dustin Whitcomb took the pitching loss.
TIGERS
On Wednesday, the Tigers managed just two hits vs. three pitchers in a 12-0 setback vs. visiting South Burlington.
On Saturday, host Rice defeated the Tigers, 17-7, dropping MUHS to 1-4. Details were unavailable.
OTTERS
On Thursday, visiting Rutland bolted to an 11-1 lead over OV (0-4) and held off an Otter rally for an 11-6 victory. Tyler Allen andDominic McCullough stroked two hits apiece to spark the Otter offense, and Derek Aines took the pitching loss.

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