After starting their season at 1-9, the Twin Valley baseball team had nowhere to go but up.
And go up they did. The Wildcats won five of their last six games to surge into the Division IV playoffs and secure the No. 6 seed. That meant a home game in the first round against a familiar postseason foe, the No. 11 Proctor Phantoms.
It wasn’t easy, and it certainly was not pretty, but the Wildcats did what was necessary when it was needed most to come away with a 9-6 victory on June 3 at Baker Field in Wilmington.
“They learned how to win games by the end of the season, and it paid off today,” said Twin Valley coach Jim Burke of his team. “You could see how they were able to reach down at the end and not give in.”
Senior pitcher Sam Molner struggled throughout the game, but managed to make it into the sixth inning. Joey Rafus got the final four outs to earn the win in a less-than-crisply played contest where both teams took turns trying to give the game away to the other team.
Proctor took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but TV got three runs in the bottom half of the inning on a two-run double by Kyle Murdock and a passed ball.
The Phantoms then scored three runs in the second inning on a two-run by Shawn Blanchard and a successful steal of home by Reid Farley.
Twin Valley tied the game in the third when what looked like a groundout by Ethan Fox was mishandled by Proctor first baseman Nick Swane into an error that scored two runs. Derrick Almond, the starting pitcher, was eventually lifted in this inning for Blanchard.
The Wildcats looked like they’d have a big inning in the fourth, but inattentiveness on the bases erased that threat. The same thing also happened in the fifth inning.
Proctor broke the tie in the sixth when Kyle Miles reached on a error and late scored on a Blanchard groundout. By this point, Molner had reached his pitch limit and had to be lifted for Rafus, who got the last out of the inning.
Then everything fell apart for the Phantoms. Baylee Crawford walked and later scored to tie the game. Molner and Chris Robinson both reached on errors and scored on a two-run single by Travis Betit. Brett Swanson got another run in with a groundout, and suddenly TV was in front going into the final inning. Thanks to Rafus, they hung on to get the win.
The Wildcats (7-10) then traveled north last Friday to face No. 3 Concord in the quarterfinals and lost, 9-5. Twin Valley finished the season at 7-11.
• Bellows Falls pitcher Chris Armstrong threw six scoreless innings with six strikeouts as the fourth-seeded Terriers cruised to a 12-1 win over No. 13 Mount Abraham in a Division II first round game at Hadley Field on June 2.
The Terriers had no problems with Mount Abe’s pitchers, as Ethan Illingworth (3-for-4, two RBIs), Austin Stack (2-for-5) and Carson Fullam (2-for-4, two RBIs) led BF’s offense. All three each scored two runs.
BF kept it rolling last Saturday with an 8-0 shutout of No. 5 Harwood. They were scheduled to face top-seeded Harwood in the semifinals on June 9.
• No. 4 Leland & Gray took advantage of 10 hits and 10 walks to roll over No. 13 Hazen, 17-1, in the first round of the Division III playoffs on June 2 in Townshend.
Patrick McDonald and Ryan Borgesen each had two hits for the Rebels. while Corey Nystrom drove in three runs. Max Cramp was the winning pitcher, going four innings for the victory.
Leland & Gray hosted No. 12 Windsor in a quarterfinal on Friday. Windsor upset Peoples Academy in the first round, but the Rebels took care of business and scored 11 unanswered runs to swat the Yellowjackets, 11-1.
After Windsor scored its lone run early in the game, Rebels pitchers Josh Donna and Luc Dugrenier shut down the Jacks. Nystrom went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs to lead the Leland & Gray offense. John Peloso also had three hits and an RBI.
The Rebels are scheduled to play at No. 1 BFA-Fairfax in a semifinal game on June 10.
• Bellows Falls entered the Division III tournament with a gaudy 13-3 record, the No. 3 seed, and a first-round bye. But coach Pete Fry knew his team was heading into uncharted waters against sixth-seeded Windsor.
While the Terriers had beaten Windsor, 7-5, on April 23, Fry saw that his team was vulnerable. That fear became reality after Windsor pitcher Ashlee Bly threw a four-hitter to lead the Yellowjackets to a 6-0 win last Friday in Westminster.
Bly struck out three and walked one, and the Windsor defense was solid. Bly also helped her cause with three hits.
Murphy Hicks took the loss for the Terriers. The sophomore pitcher struck out seven and walked just one, but was hit hard by the Jacks.
Brianna Wright had two hits, an RBI, and a run for Windsor, while Emily Williams had two hits and scored a run. Haley Wood, Naila Thompson, Becca Rumrill, and Erin Wierzbicki also had hits to help set up runs.
Windsor got its first run in the first inning, and added three more in the third and two more in the sixth. Meanwhile, the BF offense had trouble stringing together base hits. Given how many high scoring games the Terriers had been in this season, fans thought that maybe a big inning was coming. It never did.
“We’ve been in that position before, but not against a pitcher like [Bly],” said Fry after the game. “That’s the benefit of playing a tougher schedule. Windsor played a lot more tougher teams than we did.”
Losing to one of their neighboring rivals made this loss particularly painful for the Terrier faithful. It also was the final game for BF seniors Mackenzie Crawford, Chelsea Wilder, Alanna Shaw, Emily Perry and Steph Green.
• Leland & Gray got home runs from Emily Stockwell, Emily Thibault, Gabby Donna, and Jessie Stockwell as the No. 8 Rebels rolled over No. 9 Williamstown, 13-3, in a Division III first-round road game on June 2.
Keltsey Rushton tossed a four-hitter for the Rebels, with no walks and four strikeouts. She got plenty of run support as Leland & Gray scored five runs in both the first and sixth innings.
The Rebels finished with 16 hits as Rachel Borgesen went 3-for-4, Jordan Gouger doubled, Donna drove in four runs, and Thibault ended up with three RBIs.
Leland & Gray then pulled off a shocker in the quarterfinal round, knocking off top-seeded Oxbow, 6-1. The win avenged a finals loss to the Olympians in 2013.
It was perhaps the best game of the season for the Rebels, against the best team they had faced all season. Rushton had another complete game victory, giving up just five hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
The Rebels built a 5-0 lead over the first five innings thanks to a two-run double by Borgesen, another double from McKenzie Boyle, and triples from Gouger and Thibault. Emily Stockwell had two hits and two runs batted in, while Donna added an RBI single.
The Rebels are scheduled to play at No. 4 Thetford in a semifinal on June 10.
• Brattleboro just missed out on getting a home game in the Division I playoffs. As a result, the ninth-seeded Colonels had to travel to St. Johnsbury on June 2 to face the No. 8 Hilltoppers in the first round. But the Colonels didn’t mind the long bus ride, and came out swinging as they held on to a 4-2 win.
Hannah Wilson was the star with her arm and her bat. She was the winning pitcher, scattering eight hits. She walked four and struck out five in the complete game victory. She also drove in a pair of runs with a single in the first inning.
The Colonels got two more runs in the third inning when Devin Millerick tripled and scored on an RBI double by Maddy Derosia, who also scored on a wild pitch.
St. Johnsbury rallied, but the Colonels played well in the field to keep the Hiltoppers in check. Taylor Belknap was the losing pitcher; she went 2-for-3 at the plate. Molly Fried also had two hits and drove in a run.
The Colonels’ reward for the win was another long bus ride, this time to face top-seeded Essex in the quarterfinals. Essex scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the bottom of the sixth for a 7-4 win over Brattleboro.
Kasandra Wiggett went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Allie Rutz drove in two runs to lead the Hornets at the plate. Rutz was the winning pitcher with a complete game victory.
Millerick hit a double, scored a run, and drove in another, while Derosia drove in two runs for the Colonels, who finished the season at 8-9.
Track and Field
• The Bellows Falls boys scored 164 points to win the Division III state championship for the second straight year last Saturday at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester.
Willie Moore led the way with wins in the 800 meter (2:03.64) and 1,500 meter (4:17.64) events, and a third place finish in the 3,000.
Chris Doucet was also a double winner, taking first in the pole vault (10 feet, 6 inches) and the high jump (6 feet).
Brian McAnuff won the 300 hurdles (42.88), and came in second in the 110 hurdles, third in the pole vault, and fourth in the 100.
DJ Snide had a first in the triple jump (41 feet, 11 inches), a second in the 100, and a fourth in the 200.
The quartet of Jakob Mead, Chris McKeen, Jared Neathawk, and Gonzalo Borque won the 4 X 100 relay in 47.28. McKeen also finished second in the pole vault, while Mead was fifth in the pole vault. Kyle Record added a second in the javelin and a third in the discus.
• The Bellows Falls girls placed fourth in their Division III championships with 84 points. Woodstock won the state title for the second straight year.
Anna Clark won the 1,500 and was second in the 800. Keri Ticino won the javelin, and the 4 X 100 relay team of Sarah Wells, Dani Marchica, Tess Kinney, and Leia Robinson also came in first. Cassidy Santorelli was second in the pole vault and Wells was second in the 100.
• It was a tough day for Brattleboro in the Division I state meet in Burlington last Saturday as the Colonel boys wound up eighth and the girls finished 10th.
Jasper Reed led the Colonel boys with a first in the triple jump (44 feet, six inches) and a third in the long jump (21 feet, 1 inch), while Dakota Peterson placed second in the javelin with a throw of 161 feet, 7 inches.
The Colonel girls took fifth in the 4 X 100 relay and sixth in the 4 X 400 relay. The only Colonel to place in the individual events was Danielle Wood, who was sixth in the 200.
South Burlington won the Division I boys’ title, while St. Johnsbury was the Division I girls’ champ.
• Jack Gagnon led the way with five goals and two assists as the fifth-seeded Brattleboro boys swamped No. 12 Spaulding, 17-2, in a Division I first-round game on June 2 at Natowich Field.
Jake Atomanuk added three goals for the Colonels, while Tanner Freeman had two goals and four assists.
Brennen Zolnoski and Evan Perkins both scored two goals and each added an assist, while Matt Gaboriault scored a goal and had two assists. Liam Perra contributed a goal and an assist and Owen Schneider also scored. Kolton Ravenna and Ian Cebek combined for five saves in goal for the Colonels.
Mateo Perantoni led Spaulding with a goal and an assist. Goalie Matt Thompson made 13 saves.
The season then ended for the Colonels when No. 4 Essex rolled to an 18-4 quarterfinal win.
Henry Adams provided five goals and a pair of assists to lead the Hornets. Brendan Gleason followed with three goals and three assists, while David Forbes and Jordan Hines each contributed three goals.
Perkins had two goals to lead the Colonels; Freeman and Gagnon also scored. Ravenna and Cebek combined for 11 saves in goal for the 11-7 Colonels. Zolnoski finished his season as Brattleboro’s all-time leading goal scorer, while Freeman is now the school’s all-time assists leader.
• Emma Donahue had three goals and three assists as the No. 6 Middlebury Tigers beat 11th-seeded Brattleboro, 11-4, in a Division I girls’ first round game.
Katie Holmes, Satchel McLaughlin, Emma Best, and Emily Kiernan all added two goals each for Middlebury, while goalie Baily Ryan made eight saves.
Cassidy Stebbins and Abbie Lesure had two goals apiece for the Colonel girls. Goalie Sara Gauthier had five saves. The Colonel girls ended their first season under coach Barb Vinci with a 5-12 record.
• The Brattleboro girls had a remarkable season, but they ran up against a strong South Burlington team in the Division I semifinals on June 3. The result was an easy 6-1 win for the second-seeded Rebels over the sixth-seeded Colonels.
The only win for the Colonels came at No. 3 singles when Ke’ala Brosseau had to forfeit to Jaida Henry when Brosseau went down with an injury in the second set.
In the other singles matches, No. 1 Lajla Badnjevic beat Brattleboro’s Taylor Bird 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Sajanie Sirakumar downed Alicia Loyola, 6-4, 6-0; No. 3 Aster O’Leary defeated Aliza Racine, 6-0, 6-0 , and No. 5 Sophie Bujold beat Greta Larson 6-1, 6-1.
In doubles play. No. 1 Anna Wulfson and Jasmina Jusufagic defeated Brattleboro’s Emily Tanis and Haley Marcil, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 2 Amanda Anderson and Vaishnari Andra beat Grace Willingham and Danielle Looman, 6-0, 6-1.
The Colonels finished with an 11-5 record that included playoff wins over Spaulding and Mount Anthony.
• After beating Rutland and BFA-St. Albans in the Division I playoffs, the Bellows Falls boys season ended in South Burlington on June 2 as the third-seeded Rebels blanked the No. 7 Terriers, 7-0.
South Burlington swept the singles matches as No. 1 Gabe Katz, defeated BF’s Gonzalo Borone, 6-1, 6-3; No. 2 Marco Cepeda beat Jason Chartier, 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 Trent Newman defeated BF’s Tim Guyon, 6-1, 6-0; No. 4 Jack Graham beat BF’s Simon Bupp-Chickering, 6-2, 6-0; and Clark Deng defeated BF’s Lucas Clark, 8-0.
The Rebels were just as dominant in doubles play as the No. 1 duo of Alex Pasanen and Eli Rachlin skunked BF’s Jon Skrocki and Anthony Mueller, 6-0, 6-0, and Dmitry Lakoba and David Manitsky beat BF’s Chris Doucet and Andrew Hollar, 6-4, 6-0, at No. 2. BF finished the season at 10-4.