Sports

Legion nine in contention for postseason

BARRET BARROWS TOSSES a pitch for the Addison County Legion baseball team vs. Franklin County on July 8. Barrows took the loss in that game, but has contributed key hits in the past couple weeks as AC won four out of seven. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Essex topped the Addison County American Legion team on Tuesday, 8-2, a result that doesn’t disguise the fact that a young AC team remains in contention for a playoff berth.

AC has won four of seven games in the past two weeks, including Tuesday’s setback, and stands at 5-5 heading into this weekend, when the local nine will host a Saturday doubleheader at the Middlebury College field vs. Montpelier.

AC’s 5-5 mark is good for fifth place in the Northern Division, 1.5 games behind fourth-place Franklin County (7-4). Montpelier (1-14) is the Northern Division’s last-place team, and according to AC Coach Tim Paquette his team has already been awarded a forfeit of this coming Friday’s game vs. second-place Colchester due to undisclosed “disciplinary reasons.”

In other words, the team Paquette and Manager Dwight Burkett lead, made up of players from Middlebury, Mount Abraham and Vergennes union high schools, is in the thick of the race for the postseason.

“I feel we have a young team with a lot of potential,” Paquette said. “I feel our chances are good to make the playoffs.”

CATCHER CARTER PAQUETTE tosses to second base as Franklin County scores a run in its 6-1 win over the Addison County Legion team on July 8. AC lost that game, but has held its own overall, including sweeping a doubleheader at Barre on Saturday as Paquette and Jarret Muzzy picked up pitching wins.
Independent photo/Steve James

How young is the team? Only two players, former VUHS standouts Jarret Muzzy and Barret Barrows, will exceed the program’s age limits after this summer.

Given that youth and the players’ attitudes, Paquette believes the future is bright for Addison County Legion baseball after the program failed to field a team in 2021.

“It’s a great group of players to be around and coach,” he said. “I’m really happy with what I’m seeing from this team as we move forward.”

Still, Tuesday belonged to first-place Essex, which knocked around starting pitcher Tyler Kimball, who was coming off a strong effort in a recent loss to third-place South Burlington. Kimball showed good movement on his pitches, but left too many up in the zone, and Essex took advantage.

The trouble started with one out in the second with back-to-back singles by Matt Correia and Ben Deibler. An errant Kimball pickoff throw moved Correia to third, and he scored on a grounder, with the batter reaching on an error.

Kimball fanned the next hitter, but singles by Owen Pinaud and Will Erickson made it 2-0 and loaded the bases for Andrew Goodrich, who unloaded them by pulling a triple off the right-field fence to make it 5-0.

An error, an RBI single by Austin Tourville and a booming Scott Tourville triple made it 7-0 in the third, and another miscue and a Matt Sofer double plated the final Essex run in the fourth. Carter Paquette came on and tossed three scoreless relief innings.

AC LEGION SHORTSTOP Neil Guy slaps a tag on a Franklin County baserunner in a July 8 home game; the runner was called safe in Franklin’s 6-1 win. Guy homered the next day as the county American Legion team swept a doubleheader in Barre. AC has won four of seven recent games.
Independent photo/Steve James

AC got on the board against Essex and Goodrich, the winning pitcher, in the fifth. Muzzy doubled, moved to third on a Tanner Harris single and scored on a Barrows grounder. Seventh-inning singles by Muzzy, Harris and Jacob Kemp produced the second AC run.

Goodrich threw well, often hitting corners with a fastball and breaking ball. He allowed six hits, walked none and fanned 11 as his team improved to 11-3 and took over first place from Colchester.

OTHER GAMES

On June 30, AC topped visiting SD Ireland, 5-2. Muzzy earned the pitching win, striking out 10 and allowing five hits and one walk. Both SDI runs were unearned.

AC picked up a run in the first, when Carter Paquette walked, moved up on an error and scored on a Muzzy groundout, and made it 3-0 in the second. Parker Kayhart and Kimball walked to lead off and scored on hits by Xavier DeBlois and Alex Sperry.

In the third, Muzzy singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored after two groundouts to make it 4-0. After SDI scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, AC added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth on singles by Zeke Dubois and Peyton Paquette and a Sperry squeeze bunt.

On July 7, host South Burlington edged AC, 2-0, as Sully Beers tossed a six-hit shutout for the winners, striking out 11 and walking two. AC mounted two threats, putting two on with one out in the second on a walk to Whitney and a Dubois single, but Beers fanned the next two batters.

AC also loaded the bases in the sixth, when Muzzy and Barrows singled and Beers hit Tanner Harris with a pitch. But Beers induced a fly-ball out to end that threat.

Kimball took the hard-luck loss, allowing one earned run on seven hits, striking out five and walking two.

On July 8, visiting Franklin County pitcher Peyton Graham kept the AC bats in check as FC topped AC, 6-1.

ADDISON COUNTY LEGION leadoff hitter Alex Sperry had just singled and stolen second vs. visiting Franklin on Friday, but the Franklin catcher picked him off and Sperry was tagged out in a rundown despite his best efforts. Franklin won that game, but overall AC has won four out of seven to reach .500.
Independent photo/Steve James

FC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of infield errors. AC had a golden chance to take the lead in the second, when they put runners on second and third with no outs. Muzzy doubled and reached third on a Barrows single, and Barrows stole second. After two strikeouts Graham walked a batter to load the bases, but a popup allowed Graham to escape.

Two Franklin hits and two more AC miscues made it 3-0 in the third. AC had its chances again in the third. Sperry drilled a single and stole second, but was picked off and tagged out in a rundown. Carter Paquette followed with another line single, but was caught stealing, and AC had nothing to show for its two hits.

AC picked up its run in the fourth when Muzzy reached second base on an error and moved around to score on groundouts by Barrows and DeBlois.

Then FC began to make better contact on Barrows, the starting pitcher, and scored a run in the fifth on two extra-base hits. FC added a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

AC swept a Saturday doubleheader at Barre, 4-1 and 15-8.

Muzzy’s pitching was the story in AC’s 4-1 opening victory. He tossed a complete-game three-hitter, walking two and striking out 13. Barre scored its only run in the seventh, when the home team paired two of its singles.

AC scored all the runs it would need in the first, when Neil Guy’s homer followed a Cole Warren single to make it 2-0. Harris singled and scored on an error in the second, and Warren reached on an error in the third and came around on a Muzzy double to make it 4-0.

In the slugfest nightcap AC trailed Barre, 5-4, after three innings, but broke the game open with five runs in the fourth and six more in the sixth to take a 15-6 lead. Carter Paquette earned the pitching victory in relief of Guy, who started.

AC scored in each of the first five innings. In the first singles by Warren and Guy produced one run, and AC plated two runs in the second by stringing together hits by Harris, Barrows, Sperry and Warren. A walk to Muzzy and an RBI hit by Barrows made it 4-4 in the top of the fourth before Barre took a short-lived lead with a run in its half of the inning.

Then AC broke loose. Kimball led off the fifth with a walk, and Sperry and Warren followed with singles. Walks to Guy and Barrows, a Carter Paquette squeeze bunt and a Muzzy hit figured into the five-run inning.

INFIELDER XAVIER DEBLOIS drove in Jarret Muzzy with the only run for the Addison County Legion baseball team against visiting Franklin County with this ground ball. AC lost that game, 6-1, and another contest on Tuesday, but overall has done enough to remain in contention for a playoff spot.
Independent photo/Steve James

AC benefitted from Barre’s generosity in the sixth. Two errors, three walks, two hit batters and a Harris single figured into the visitors’ six-run outburst, and Paquette had little trouble protecting the nine-run lead. Muzzy scored three runs, and Sperry, Warren, Guy and Harris each scored twice.

On Monday, Peyton Paquette provided the spark as AC rallied for a 4-2 win at Franklin County. Paquette earned the pitching win, allowing only two runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out two.

FC took a 1-0 lead in the first on a pair of doubles, and AC tied the score in the second when Muzzy reached on an error and eventually scored on a Whitney fly ball. FC strung a single, a hit batter and another hit to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth, but AC rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh.

Kayhart reached on a walk, and a passed ball and Whitney single tied the score. Another passed ball and a Dubois single moved two runners in scoring position, and Peyton Paquette singled two runs home to provide the winning margin.

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