AC Legion baseball seeking to hit stride

MIDDLEBURY — Four recent home games at the Middlebury College baseball diamond left the Addison County American Legion baseball team still searching for its first win of the summer at 0-6.
On Sunday, AC dropped a tight contest to Montpelier, 4-2. On Saturday, visiting S.D. Ireland swept a doubleheader from AD, 15-4 in six innings and 6-2, and on Thursday Colchester scored five times in the seventh to snap a 1-1 tie and win, 6-1.
Coach Mike Estey said he still believes AC can string some wins together, but acknowledges the local nine has not played well. They have not made back-to-back hits, and at times have struggled on defense, for example failing five times on Saturday and Sunday to get outs after pickoffs or during rundowns.
Estey was asked what has to happen for AC to achieve better results.
“I think it’s a combination. Right now we’re just asking them to compete, give us what you got. Some of it is a lack of focus, and the mistakes,” he said. “It just snowballs.”
AC’s schedule has, to be fair, been tough, with road games vs. Essex and Colchester before the homestand. AC will visit South Burlington, another team not off to the best of starts, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. before hosting Franklin County for a twin bill starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
“We hope for a good outcome there (at South Burlington). Dustin (Whitcomb) will throw there,” Estey said. “A win will give us a lot, I think, give us something positive to build off.”
On Sunday, Jackson Root (who threw for U-32 vs. Otter Valley Union High School in the Division II final) tossed a complete-game four-hitter, striking out four, hitting two batters and walking none to earn the win for visiting Montpelier. He outdueled Adam Whitcomb, who allowed four runs, two earned, on 10 hits and also struck out four.
Whitcomb worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first by inducing a force-out at home and striking out a batter.
AC took a 1-0 lead in the second. Adam Whitcomb singled and Root hit first baseman Bruce Wright with a pitch. Whitcomb moved to third on Greg Whitney fielder’s choice and scored on shortstop Wyatt Cameron’s fly ball to left.
Montpelier started the third with four straight hits and took a 3-1 lead. Good defense first limited the damage. Jake O’Brien doubled to right to lead off, but Whitney hustled to track the ball down and hit second baseman Oakley Gordon, who relayed to third base to erase O’Brien.
   ADDISON COUNTY OUTFIELDER Greg Whitney tries to lay down a bunt during Sunday’s Legion baseball game against Montpelier. Whitney did connect for an RBI later in the game.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
But Cameron Flinn, Ethan McCallister and Root followed with singles to tie the game, and an error by Whitney on Root’s ball allowed the runners to reach second and third. An error by Cameron allowed the next batter to reach as the go-ahead run scored. Whitcomb then picked the runner off first base. But Root broke for home and Wright threw wildly as the third run scored. Whitcomb whiffed the next two batters to limit the damage.
In the fourth, Gordon couldn’t hold onto a tough chance running into right field to catch a pop fly, and with two out Flinn doubled the runner home to make it 4-2. Whitcomb allowed only one more hit, a leadoff double in the sixth, but again pitched out of trouble, this time with defensive help: Cameron scooped a short hop to retire O’Brien. Will Wormer came on to pitch a scoreless seventh.
But in the meantime AC managed only a run in the fourth. Dustin Whitcomb led off with a single, and was erased by an Adam Whitcomb fielder’s choice. Wright reached on catcher’s interference, and Adam Whitcomb scored when Whitney rolled a single into left field.  
In Saturday’s opener SDI scored in five of six innings in its 15-4, six-inning victory. A seven-run sixth made it 15-3, and when AC scored just once in the bottom of the frame the game ended on the 10-run rule.
Gordon led AC with two hits, an RBI and a run. Liam Smith singled, scored a run and drove in a run, and Dustin Whitcomb and Jeffrey Stearns picked up RBIs, and Devin Kimball and Wyatt Gendreau also scored.
SDI roughed up Cameron, Wright and Wormer in the course of the game, but Estey said he expects both Cameron and Wormer to pitch well for AC.
In the nightcap SDI scored three times in the first and once in the second to take a quick lead. AC got one run back in the fourth when Chris Wood singled to lead off and eventually scored on a Dustin Whitcomb hit, and another in the fifth when Wright homered. But SDI scored two insurance runs in the sixth with the help of three AC errors to pull away again.
Hunter O’Connor took the loss, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and three walks and striking out three.
This past Thursday, Colchester took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on an unearned run, sandwiching two singles around an infield error. AC tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Kimball stole home, but Colchester then erupted for five runs in the seventh, with Tom Vesosky’s tie-breaking triple and Eben Probost and Chase Corley’s RBI doubles the key blows.
Dustin Whitcomb got the start, and allowed three runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings. “He pitched really well for us,” Estey said. “That was a good competitive game until the seventh.” 

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