Addison County Legion baseball team hits rough final stretch

MIDDLEBURY — After a midseason stretch in which the Addison County American Legion baseball team played .500 baseball for 10 games after an 0-6 start, the local nine hit another tough patch in midweek play, dropping four games to contending teams.
Those results left AC at 5-16 with one game left to play, a makeup game on Friday with Essex (played after the deadline for this sports section). Essex needed to win that game to earn the fourth and final Northern Division berth in the eight-team Vermont American Legion playoffs. That tournament was set to start Saturday in White River Junction.
AC’s four midweek losses came in a stretch in which a team with thin pitching had to play nine games in six days. AC was already hamstrung because one of the pitchers Coach Mike Estey had penciled into the starting rotation, Mount Abraham Union High School’s George Bailey, has been unable to throw the ball this summer.
And with new stricter rules in place to protect pitchers’ arms — justifiably, all agree — and a schedule that is backloaded because of many earlier rainouts, AC simply has not had enough experienced pitchers to send out to the mound.
AC has been competitive when its most effective pitchers this summer, Adam and Dustin Whitcomb, have thrown. Adam Whitcomb was set to take the mound against Essex this past Friday and is coming off three straight scoreless appearances.
In all, between Saturday, July 15, and this past Thursday: AC split a home doubleheader with South Burlington on July 15, won one out of three home games vs. Franklin County on July 16, lost two one-run games on the road to second-place Orleans-Essex-Caledonia on July 18, fell on the road to first-place Colchester Cannons on Wednesday, and lost at home to Essex on Thursday.
On the 15th on the Legion team’s home field at Middlebury College, AC held on for a 5-4 win over visiting South Burlington in the opener, but SB erupted for four runs in the seventh to win the second game, 6-4.
In the home team’s victory, SB handed AC a 1-0 lead in the second inning. After being hit by a pitch, Hunter O’Connor moved up on two wild pitches and scored on Keion Correll’s single. AC responded in kind in the fourth, giving SB two runs on three errors and a single. Those runs were scored off Wyatt Cameron, who started and pitched 3.2 innings and allowed one hit and one walk.
AC scored four times in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Liam Smith reached on an error and after a wild pitch scored on a Chris Wood single. Two errors allowed Wood to score on a ball hit by Devin Kimball. Kimball was erased as Oakley Gordon and Dustin Whitcomb reached on fielder’s choices, and both runners scored on a Dustin Whitcomb single that capped the rally.
SB scored its third run off Dustin Whitcomb — who earned the win with two innings of relief work — in the sixth on a walk and three wild pitches. But Wood came on to pitch and get a grounder to short to end the threat. SB made it a one-run game in the seventh on two singles and an error, but Wood got a fly out to Kimball in center field with the bases loaded to end the threat and earn a save. Hunter O’Connor singled twice for AC.
In the second game AC took a 2-0 lead in the third. Wood singled and Kimball reached on an error, and both scored on two errors and Dustin Whitcomb’s RBI single. SB tied it in the third on a walk, two errors and a single.
SB made it 6-2 in the top of the seventh with a walk and four singles. Will Wormer pitched a complete game for AC, allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits and two walks; he struck out five.
AC scored twice in the bottom of the seventh. Wood singled, stole second and scored when Gordon singled. Gordon came home on a Bailey hit.
AC, 1-0
In Sunday’s opener of three games between Franklin County and Addison County, AC’s Adam Whitcomb (seven innings, three hits, no walks, 10 strikeouts) outdueled FC’s Jake Hakey (six innings, two hits, four walks, seven Ks) as AC edged the visitors, 1-0.
Whitcomb also walked and scored the winning run in the fourth inning. O’Connor walked, advancing Whitcomb to second, and he moved to third on Jeffrey Stearns’ fielder’s choice before scoring on Cameron’s two-out single. O’Connor’s second-inning single was the only other AC safety.
Franklin, 12-1
In Sunday’s Game 2, FC breezed, 12-1, as FC pitcher Richard Walker tossed a complete-game three-hitter. AC scored in the second. Keion Correll singled, moved up on two errors, and scored on one of Wyatt Gendreau’s two hits.
O’Connor got roughed up in the first inning to take the loss. Wood, Stearns and Gordon all surrendered runs in relief, while Bruce Wright got the final out in the seventh.
In the final game of July 16’s home tripleheader FC took advantage of 12 walks in a 12-5 victory. Four came from Wright in the first inning as FC took a quick 3-0 lead.
Smith, Nick Kaufmann and Kimball also pitched; Kimball tossed a scoreless final 2.3 innings.
AC scored once in the fourth, when Bailey singled in O’Connor. AC scored three in the fifth. Correll singled, and Cameron doubled. Both scored on Wood’s single, and Adam Whitcomb singled home Wood.
AC scored its final run in the sixth. Pat Messenger reached on an error, moved up on a Cameron single and scored on another error.
On July 18 host OEC Kings swept AC at Lake Region Union High School in Barton, rallying for walkoff wins each time. In the opener, OEC scored twice in the 10th to win, 6-5, making a loser of Wood in his third inning of relief of starter Dustin Whitcomb (7. 1 innings, three hits, four runs, three earned).
AC took a 5-4 lead in the 10th when Gordon singled and scored on errors. AC scored one in the second on singles by Dustin Whitcomb, Wright and O’Connor, and added three in the third. In that inning Wood and Whitcomb singled, Gordon reached on an error, Wright doubled and O’Connor hit a sacrifice fly.
In the nightcap, AC erupted for seven runs in the fourth to take a 7-4 lead. Wright, Brian Foote, Wyatt Gendreau and Gordon singled in the inning, and Smith, Nick Kaufmann and Wormer walked; all seven scored. Gendreau finished with three hits.
Cameron started and allowed one run in 1.1 innings, Messenger allowed four runs in 3.2 innings, and Kimball took the loss, allowing three runs in two innings, all in the bottom of the seventh, when OEC scored three times to erase AC’s 7-5 lead and walk off with an 8-7 win.
On Wednesday, host Colchester took a 6-0 lead after three innings on the way to an 8-3 lead. Cameron started and allowed six of the runs in five innings, and Wright and Gendreau shared the sixth.
AC scored three in the sixth. Smith walked and singles by Wood and Kimball plated the first run. Wood scored on an error, and Kimball came home on Adam Whitcomb’s groundout.
ESSEX, 13-3
It’s not often a baseball team outhits its foe by 9-2, but loses by 13-3, but such was the case for AC vs. visiting Essex on Thursday. Of course, AC’s inexperienced pitchers, Gendreau and Correll, also combined for 13 walks, two balks, five wild pitches and a hit batter.
To be fair, Gendreau did not pitch for his Mount Abraham Union High School team, and Correll reportedly had never pitched, and they deserve credit for just taking the mound.
AC scored in the first when Foote drew a bases-loaded walk after Wood singled and Gendreau and Wright also walked. AC almost had more, but Messenger’s 370-foot drive to center was hauled in.
AC added two more runs in the fourth. Messenger’s drive — into a gap this time — went for a triple, and he scored on a Cameron ground out. Smith and Wood singled, and after Smith was erased on a fielder’s choice Wood scored on a wild pitch. Wood and Smith each finished with three hits. 

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