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Middlebury baseball struggles to find the magic

MIDDLEBURY – Middlebury Union High School baseball Coach Charlie Messenger said pitching hasn’t typically been the problem for the 1-10 Tigers, but it wasn’t sharp in their 10-2 loss to visiting North Country on Friday: Three Tiger hurlers combined for 11 walks, a hit-batsman and five wild pitches.
On the day before, sophomore Wyatt Cameron pitched respectably in a 7-1 loss to visiting Milton, but MUHS made five errors. Messenger said a young Tiger team, with the exception of a 3-1 win at Colchester on May 4, has yet to put all elements together at the same time.
“We played really well up in Colchester. We played the way we should be playing,” Messenger said. “And then we hit a wall against Milton. We just didn’t show up, and they know it. There was no energy, nothing. And I think there was a little carry-over today.”
On Friday, trouble began against the 2-7 Falcons when the Tigers’ usually most consistent pitcher, sophomore Jordan Stearns, allowed three first-inning runs on three walks, two wild pitches, Caleb Lanoue’s RBI grounder, and T.J. Santaw’s two-out, two-run single.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom of the first. With two out, NCU pitcher Ben Myrick hit Skyeler Devlin with a pitch, and Austin Friend legged out an infield hit. Brian Foote lined a single up the middle to score Devlin, and an outfield miscue allowed the runners to move to second and third. Friend then scored on Pierson Beatty’s infield hit. Simon Fischer then lined out to end the threat.
But that was it for the Tiger offense against Myrick, who threw hard and tossed a few good curves. Myrick threw a complete game and allowed three more hits, a double to Foote and singles to Devlin and Nick Kauffman. He struck out five and walked three.
Stearns lasted until the third. The leadoff hitter reached on one of two Tiger infield errors on the day, and consecutive hits by Mitchell Gonyaw, Lanoue and Cole Azur made it 5-2. Two walks scored another run before Messenger waved Friend to the mound with the bases loaded and none out.
Noah Gonthier’s RBI grounder made it 7-2, but Friend struck out two batters to end the threat — with help from Foote behind the plate. The final K came on a pitch in the dirt that bounced away from Foote, but he recovered in time to dive and tag out the runner on third trying to score.
Friend pitched a creditable four innings, allowing two runs on three walks and three hits. Myrick singled in a run in the fifth after a walk and a stolen base, and in the sixth Friend hit Lanoue with a pitch, and after a stolen base and a wild pitch Lanoue scored on a Dylan Gunn grounder.
NCU added an unearned run in the ninth off Nick Beattie on a walk, a single, an error and a bases-loaded walk.
Messenger said that he and the Tigers still believe they can put things together.
“They’re still positive,” Messenger said. “We’re staying together. We feel we can get a few more wins.”

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