Legion baseball just misses postseason
MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County American Legion team took two out of three games over this past weekend, including a 12-2 home win over fellow playoff contender S.D. Ireland on Sunday that Coaches Tim Paquette and Dwight Burkett believed put their team in position to earn one of the four Northern Division playoff berths.
Paquette, the head coach, said after that game he believed if Franklin County lost on Monday at Essex, then AC would finish fourth. AC finished its season at 9-10, while FC entered Monday’s game with a 9-11 record, though owning the head-to-head tiebreaker with AC.
A win would give FC a better winning percentage and the tiebreaker. But Paquette and Burkett reasoned a loss would give AC the better record, 9-10 compared to 9-12.
Essex prevailed on Monday, 7-1, and the coaches went to bed believing they would take on Southern Division top seed Brattleboro in the first round of the tournament.
The Vermont American Legion website on Tuesday morning listed Franklin as the No. 4 seed from the North.
Burkett said he had spoken to the division commissioner and was told the head-to-head tiebreaker trumped winning percentage.
“Wins are the tiebreaker, and they have the head-to-head tiebreaker,” Burkett said. “Apparently losses don’t play into it.”
He was not pleased that a young AC team resurrecting the program after two summers was not rewarded for its efforts.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Burkett said.
Both Paquette and Burkett rated the season a success regardless, with improved play and chemistry as it progressed.
“I saw the boys grow as the year went on,” Paquette said after Sunday’s big win. “They got better and competed a lot better. And as time went on, they became a team.”
“I’m very proud of the results at the end of the year,” he added.
Most of team will also return.
“We should be contending more next year,” Paquette said. “We’ve got our learning curve under our belt this year, and we’ll build on that next year.”
In Sunday’s regular season finale, both visiting SDI and AC scratched out early runs. SDI scored in the first on an infield hit, an error and a bloop double off AC starting and winning pitcher Tyler Kimball.
AC tied the game in the second. Jarret Muzzy led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Kimball’s opposite-field double.
SDI used a walk and two singles to take the lead in the top of the third. In the bottom of the third, SDI brought in a reliever who tossed the rest of the game and struggled, allowing 11 runs on six hits, five walks, and four hit batters. SDI (9-12), fighting for playoffs, also made four errors and allowed five unearned runs.
In the third inning, four AC runners scored. Alex Sperry, playing despite a leg injury suffered on Saturday that left him hobbling (AC had only nine players, and he had to play to avoid a forfeit), singled to lead off. A Carter Paquette ground ball forced him at second base.
Parker Kayhart then singled, Neil Guy reached on an error, and Muzzy walked. Barret Barrows plated Paquette with a fly ball, and Xavier Deblois walked to load the bases. Errors scored Kayhart and Guy, and then Jacob Kemp was hit by a pitch to score Muzzy with AC’s sixth run.
A slick double-play turn by Guy at shortstop ended SDI’s fourth quickly. In AC’s fourth, Paquette was hit by a pitch, moved to third when Kayhart lined a hit-and-run single, and scored on a Muzzy fly ball to make it 7-2.
A more dramatic double play got Kimball out of trouble in the fifth. Two singles and an error loaded the bases with none out. The next batter drilled the ball back at the lefty hurler’s face, but he snared the ball and doubled the runner off third. The next batter grounded to Guy to end the threat.
Kimball finished having allowed five hits and a walk, striking out one batter and hitting one. Muzzy pitched a scoreless sixth.
AC scored two in the fifth and three in the seventh to win by the 10-run mercy rule. In the fifth, DeBlois and Kimball singled, and Kemp reached on an error, with DeBlois scoring. Sperry then bunted Kimball home, clapping as he limped 20 feet down the first-base line.
In the seventh, Guy singled and was forced at second by a Muzzy ground ball. Muzzy traveled around the bases on three wild pitches as Barrows walked. DeBlois and Kimball singled to load the bases. Sperry came up with two out and hit a slow roller to third.
The play became a slow-motion train wreck for SDI: a bobble; a low throw that bounced about 15 feet past the first baseman, who scrambled after it; Sperry hopping down the line; the fielder diving as Sperry made one last lunge for the bag; a safe call; DeBlois chugging non-stop behind Kimball from second; a belated throw home; and another safe call after DeBlois stretched for home plate; and then an AC celebration with Sperry at its heart.
On July 20, AC lost at home to third-place Colchester, 6-4, as a rally fell short. Guy started and allowed only one run until the top of the fourth, when a walk, three singles and a double plated four runs. Guy went five innings, allowing five hits and five walks, and Kemp allowed one run on two hits in two relief innings.
AC scored all four of its runs in the fifth. DeBlois and Tanner Harris singled, Kimball sacrificed them to second and third, and Peyton Paquette doubled the runners home. Singles by Carter Paquette and Muzzy capped the outburst.
On Saturday, AC split two games, knocking off second-place Essex, 11-8, in a morning contest before falling to South Burlington, 13-3, in the late-afternoon heat.
Against Essex, AC rallied from deficits of 5-0 after two innings and 8-6 after five to prevail. AC began rallying with three runs in the third. Cole Warren (hit by pitch), Carter Paquette (walk) and Harris (passed ball on a strikeout) scored the runs, and Tim Whitney hit an RBI single.
AC cut the lead to 7-6 with three more in the fourth, a rally keyed by singles from Sperry, Guy, Muzzy and Harris.
Essex made it 8-6 in the bottom of the inning, but AC tied it in the sixth. Guy tripled and scored on a Muzzy groundout, and singles by Kimball and Harris and a Whitney sac fly made it 8-8.
Kayhart singled to start AC’s winning rally. Guy also singled, Muzzy was hit by a pitch, and they all scored on a Harris single and an error.
Whitney earned the win by allowing one run in three innings in relief of Barrows.
Things didn’t go so well at South Burlington in a six-inning setback later on Saturday. SB scored six in the first off Kemp, the AC starter, and scored in every inning except the second. Singles by Sperry, Muzzy and Whitney scored a run for AC in the first, and in the third Muzzy singled home Zeke Dubois (hit by pitch) and Carter Paquette (single).
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