Eagle baseball outlasts Otter Valley

BRISTOL — Two Division II high school baseball teams fresh off their first wins met in Bristol on Friday, and it was host Mount Abraham that made it two in a row, holding off Otter Valley, 8-5.
The Eagles (2-6) built a 6-1 lead through three innings, but saw the Otters rally against Eagle sophomore starter Dustin Whitcomb in the fourth and fifth to pull to within 6-5.
But the Eagles got two innings of scoreless relief from senior Caleb Bonvouloir in his first varsity mound appearance and also added two key pad runs in the bottom of the sixth to nail down the win.
For Mount Abe, Friday’s win followed a 3-2, eight-inning win at rival Vergennes on Thursday. And those two results followed an 0-6 start in which the Eagles came no closer than six runs in any game.
“It feels good to be on the winning side a couple times. The first six games have been awful,” said Eagle coach Jeff Stetson.
The Eagles bottomed out in a 20-4 home loss on Tuesday to a two-win Middlebury team. Afterward, Stetson and the Eagles sat down for a heart-to-heart, with a positive result.
   MOUNT ABRAHAM UNION High School senior catcher Anthony Robideau looks to throw to the infield after snagging a foul pop during Friday’s game against Otter Valley.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
“We had a team meeting and talked about how we wanted to be remembered and perceived, and what are code of conduct and effort was going to be,” Stetson said. “We had a good positive meeting as a group. And since then … we’ve played better and the kids are more alive in the dugout.”
Coach Mike Howe’s 1-6 Otters were coming off a 1-0 Wednesday win at Windsor in which junior Derek Aines tossed a complete-game shutout.
Howe said he is seeing more good things from what is still an inexperienced OV crew.
“We’ve been progressively getting better. We are a still relatively young team, and the progression has been good. We’ve just got to continue to improve,” he said.
His sophomore starter, Payson Williams, had a rocky first inning as the Eagles took a 4-1 lead after one inning. But Williams settled down after that, allowing only two earned runs on five hits in 5.2 innings, striking out four and walking just one batter after hitting two and walking one in the first.
“I thought he pitched a great game,” Howe said. “I thought he rebounded well.”
OV took a 1-0 lead in the top of first. Tyler Allen singled with two out and reached third on an outfield error. Greg Whitney then singled him home. In the bottom of the inning Whitcomb (single), Chris Wood and George Bailey (hit by pitches), and Adam Whitcomb (walked for an RBI) all scored for Mount Abe, and Bonvouloir hit an RBI grounder.
The Eagles made it 6-1 in the third when Adam Whitcomb reached on a passed ball while striking out, Bonvouloir singled, and Keion Correll doubled them home.
The Otters began to make better contact in the fourth. Whitney walked and Daniel Allen singled to start the rally. Williams grounded to third, erasing Whitney. Josh Beayon advanced the runners with a groundout, and Reilly Shannon singled both home to make it 6-3.
In the fifth, OV broke out heavy lumber to make it 6-5. Dominic McCullough singled, and Tyler Allen boomed an opposite-field triple that two-hopped the right field fence. Daniel Allen followed with a shot that bounced over the center field fence for a double.
Whitcomb (eight hits, two strikeouts, three walks) tossed a wild pitch to move the runner to third and walked Williams, but induced a foul pop to end the threat.
Bonvouloir came on to a toss scoreless sixth, and the Eagles padded the lead in their half of the inning. Wyatt Gendreau doubled with two out and Coleman Russell reached on an error. Dustin Whitcomb then singled, and both runs scored on an outfield error. Whitney came on to get the final out.
Bonvouloir allowed a single and a walk in the OV seventh, but got three outs on to pop-ups to Wood at shortstop.  
“He’s got that nice funky sidearm delivery and threw strikes, and he got them popping it up pretty good,” Stetson said. “It was a good experience for him and a good experience for us to be able to hold onto that lead.”
Howe said he is confident the Otters are moving in the right direction, but just came up a little short on Friday.
“We battled,” he said. “We just didn’t make enough plays today.”  

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