Legion nine finishes short of goals

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County American Legion baseball season came to a disappointing end over the past few days with four losses to contending teams. Those results left AC with a 5-16 mark that is identical to that of a year ago, and in last place in the Northern Division.
Coach Mike Estey believes this summer’s team probably had more talent overall than the 2017 edition, but that the league-wide quality of competition also improved over this past summer.
For instance, the South Burlington team that swept two games from AC on Saturday includes many players that helped South Burlington High School win the Division I championship this spring. But SB’s Legion team finished 8-12, in seventh place out of eight teams and three games short of becoming one of the four Northern Division playoff teams.
Estey also said in an email to the Independent on Wednesday morning that he and assistant coach Jim Lutton “have decided to step away from coaching Legion baseball” after a dozen years.
HUNTER O’CONNOR PITCHES for Addison County against SD Ireland last Friday evening.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Although the past two or three years have seen AC out of contention, AC won the Vermont tournament early in Estey and Lutton’s tenure and nearly claimed the state title again several years ago in Castleton after emerging from the double-elimination tournament’s winners’ bracket undefeated.
“(It’s been) 12 years with a satisfying amount of success,” Estey wrote. “And being called coach by all the remarkable kids along the way has been rewarding.”
As far as this year’s Northern Division race, Orleans-Essex-Caledonia (16-5 after topping AC on Tuesday) finished first, while Colchester (12-8) clinched second. Essex, SD Ireland and defending state champion Franklin County all finished at 11-10 and will need tiebreakers to sort out the final two Northern Division qualifiers. Montpelier finished 9-12 and just out of contention along with South Burlington. 
ADDISON COUNTY CATCHER Jeffrey Stearns makes a throw from home plate during American Legion baseball action last Friday evening.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
In the Southern Division Brattleboro (16-4), Rutland (15-4, and featuring Otter Valley players including Josh Beayon, Nate Hudson, Patrick McKeighan, Reilly Shannon and Kollin Bissette), Bellows Falls (15-6) and White River Junction (13-7) have locked down the four playoff spots.
In AC’s final four games, on Friday the 20th visiting SD Ireland blanked AC, 10-0; on Saturday host South Burlington swept a doubleheader, 5-0 and 8-7; and on Tuesday OEC prevailed on the Middlebury College diamond, 9-2.
SDI, 10-0
On Friday the 20th SD Ireland needed just five innings to defeat AC, 10-0. SDI hurler Ian Parent tossed a five-hit shutout, walking one and striking out one. Parent worked out of jams in the first, when both Chris Wood and Devin Kimball singled; second, when Cooper O’Brien and Pat Messenger singled; and third innings, when Kimball singled and Jeffrey Stearns reached on an error.
SDI pounced on AC starter Hunter O’Connor for six runs on five hits, including a Ryan Conly double, two walks and an error. The first six batters reached and scored. O’Connor then settled down and allowed only an unearned second-inning run in a four-inning stint. SDI added three runs in the fifth to end the game, taking advantage of reliever Nolan Whitcomb’s wildness. Collin Vincent delivered a key RBI hit in that rally.
ADDISON COUNTY SECOND baseman Chris Wood makes a successful throw to first base in mid stride during Friday’s game against SD Ireland.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
AC’s bats remained silent in Saturday’s opener vs. SB, as host hurler Sam Granfield limited AC to singles by Dustin Whitcomb, Stearns and Nolan Whitcomb. Granfield struck out only one, but walked just one as he outdueled AC’s Adam Whitcomb, who allowed seven hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings.
SB got a run in the first on a Sky Rahill triple and a Connor McGrath single, and another in the third on a passed ball on a strikeout, a sacrifice bunt and a Dan Terhune single. SB put the game out of reach in the sixth with three runs on a Terhune single, a McGrath triple, a Pat Brennan sacrifice fly, a walk, a wild pitch and an Avery Smith single.
In the nightcap AC lost three leads in the 8-7 loss. AC broke on top with three runs in the second. Kimball reached on an error, and a wild pitch and singles by Stearns and Adam Whitcomb produced two runs. An O’Brien groundout scored the final run.
SB tied the game in the third off starter Dustin Whitcomb. A walk and singles by Terhune, McGrath and Brennan did the damage. SB took a 5-3 lead in the fourth, Whitcomb’s final inning on the mound, on a Smith single, a Ryan Sergeant triple, and a Rahill triple.
DEVON KIMBALL TALLIED two hits for Addison County during last Friday’s American Legion game against SD Ireland.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
AC responded with three runs in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. Singles by Messenger, Wood, Dustin Whitcomb and Stearns, plus two SB errors and a wild pitch produced the runs.
Wyatt Cameron came on to pitch for AC, and allowed a tying run in the fifth on hits by Brennan, Chris Fenimore and Smith. AC responded with a go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. George Bailey walked, O’Brien sacrificed him to second, and Wood singled him home.
But Cameron’s control momentarily deserted him to open the bottom of the sixth: He hit Sargeant, the leadoff hitter, with a pitch, and walked the next batter, Rahill. Terhune sacrificed them to second and third, and McGrath singled both of them home with what proved to be the winning runs.
Fenimore, who went the distance for the win, retired the side in the top of the seventh with help from Terhune, his catcher, who picked the leadoff hitter off first base after he reached on an error. Fenimore allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out five.
THE BALL IS too late for Addison County’s Chris Wood to make a tag on an SD Ireland base stealer Friday in Middlebury. Addison County lost the game, 0-10.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
OEC, 9-2
On Tuesday back at AC’s Middlebury College home field OEC broke the game open with three runs in the third and four more in the fourth. Tucker Stearns started and took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits in four-plus innings. Nolan Whitcomb allowed four runs, none earned, in two innings on one hit and four walks, and George Bailey tossed two scoreless innings to close out the season.
For OEC Tyler Wells tripled and scored twice, Brody Fillion singled twice, and Garret Rice doubled. Three OEC pitchers combined to hold AC to two hits, singles by Jeffrey Stearns and Cameron.
AC scored twice in the fourth. Kimball reached on an error, Stearns singled, Adam Whitcomb and Bailey walked to force in a run, and the second run came home on an O’Connor groundout.

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