Colonels fall short to MAU, will miss baseball playoffs
Brattleboro catcher Chayse Cunniff, right, and Mount Anthony’s Noah Normyle await the umpire’s call after this play at the plate in the top of seventh inning of their game last Friday at Tenney Field. Umpire George Lucia ruled Normyle was tagged out by Cunniff to end that half of the inning.

Colonels fall short to MAU, will miss baseball playoffs

For the second time in the last three seasons, the Brattleboro Colonels will not be in the Division I baseball playoffs.

The Colonels needed to beat Mount Anthony last Friday at Tenney Field to clinch the No. 16 seed, but lost, 4-3.

Until last Thursday, Brattleboro had thought it qualified for the playoffs. Then Missisquoi won its last game of the season to leapfrog over the Colonels in the standings.

A Brattleboro loss would leave both teams with 4-12 records, but Missisquoi would get the playoff berth based on index points - the rating system that gives you four points for each home win over schools in your division, three points for wins over lower division schools, and five points for beating teams on the road. Under that system, Missisquoi had 17 points to Brattleboro's 16.

So the stakes for the Colonels were high last Friday - win, or stay home.

The Colonels had their ace - freshman Leif Bigelow - on the mound, and he looked sharp early. He staked himself to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he reached on a fielder's choice and eventually scored on a muffed fly ball hit by Conor Hiner.

That run held up until the third inning, when MAU's Carson Cushman doubled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Shea Mooney to tie the game.

MAU took the lead in the fourth when Bryce Bush singled to center and scored on a double by Ezra Caron. Bush ended up going 4-for-4 on the day.

Brattleboro had trouble hitting MAU pitcher Austin Condo, but had a golden chance in the sixth inning. Conor Hiner started the inning with a double to center. Tyler McKinney followed with a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled to put runners on first and third with no outs. Neither man would score, however, as the next three batters were retired in order.

Bigelow was wearing down by the seventh inning, and gave up three straight hits to Pat Powers, Mooney, and Noah Normyle as MAU took a 4-1 lead. Sam Ognenoff replaced Bigelow on the mound, and got the final out.

Condo was also wearing down in the seventh, but looked like he would finish with a complete game victory. But after picking up two quick outs, the Colonels chased Condo from the game. Ognenoff doubled, Bigelow walked, and Conor Hiner was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then McKinney was also hit by a pitch to force in a run and end Condo's day.

Normyle came in to put out the fire, but Stephen Kerylow drew a walk to force in another run. But the inning, the game, and the season ended for the Colonels when Nick Hiner struck out.

For Colonels coach Chris Groeger, it was a frustrating end to a frustrating season. He said this game was representative of the previous 11 losses - all of them had failures to make plays in the field and failures to get the key hit when needed.

“We didn't do enough to win the game,” he said.

Condo held the Colonels to just five hits, and there were four errors in this game, said Groeger, “and when you don't make the plays in the field, your pitchers have to throw extra pitches.”

Groeger said that this season “was a disaster from the get-go,” with suspensions, academic eligibility problems, and injuries forcing him to dip deeply into the junior varsity roster. “A lot of freshmen and sophomores got chances to play,” he said. “Hopefully, we can build on that.”

Considering the Colonels will be graduating only two seniors - Nick Hiner and Shawn Lynch - from this season's team, there is hope for a return of playoff baseball to Tenney Field next season.


• Bellows Falls lost their last two regular season games - 8-4 to Fair Haven on May 26 and 5-1 to Mill River on May 30 - but still clinched the No. 4 spot in the Division II playoffs with a 11-5 record.

The Terriers were scheduled to host No. 13 Mount Abraham in a first round game on June 2.

• It was much closer than the 22-4 score the last time that Leland & Gray and Twin Valley met, but the result was the same as Leland & Gray needed a sacrifice fly from Owen Beattie in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Rebels a 7-6 walk-off win over Twin Valley in Townshend on May 26, and a sweep of the season series.

Twin Valley had a 6-3 lead, but the Rebels tied the game with a sacrifice fly by John Peloso and then a two-run home run by Josh Donna. After Nick Morrow singled and advanced to third on an error, Beattie drove in the winning run.

Donna and Jeremy Bovat each finished with two hits for the Rebels. Joey Rafus went 2-for-3 to lead the Wildcats. The Rebels' win snapped a four-game win streak for Twin Valley.

Together with a 17-7 win over Springfield on May 28, the Rebels clinched the No. 4 seed in Division III with a 13-3 record. They were scheduled to host No. 13 Hazen in a first round game on June 2.

• Twin Valley wrapped up the regular season with a 8-1 win over Woodstock to end up at 6-10, a strong finish after starting the season with a 1-9 record. That was good enough for the No. 6 seed in the Division IV playoffs, and a home game in the first round. The Wildcats were scheduled to host No. 11 Proctor on June 2. The winner of that game faces No. 3 Concord on Friday, June 5.


• Brattleboro needed to win both of its last two games to finish in the top eight of Division I. Instead, they were defeated by Mother Nature and Mount Anthony.

On May 27 in North Adams, Mass., the Colonels jumped out a 7-1 lead against Drury, but the game was stopped in the second inning by stormy weather. The game would end up being unfinished, as neither school had a mutually-agreeable makeup date.

The Colonels put up a good fight against Mount Anthony last Friday at Sawyer Field, but lost, 4-3. The Patriots scored the winning run on a passed ball in the sixth inning. Baylee Ports threw a five-hitter, with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Brattleboro finished at 7-8 and, as expected, got the No. 9 seed. They are scheduled to play at No. 8 St. Johnsbury on June 2. The winner of that game will face top-seeded Essex in the quarterfinals on Friday, June 5.

• Bellows Falls closed out the regular season with a home-and-home series with Burr & Burton. The Terriers romped on their diamond, clobbering the Bulldogs, 15-0.

Mackenzie Crawford had three hits to lead a 13-hit Terrier attack. Emily Stoddard, Chelsea Wilder, Ally Bashaw, and Alanna Shaw all had a pair of hits. Wilder drove in three runs, while Shaw and Stoddard each had two RBIs. Winning pitcher Murphy Hicks struck out six and held the Bulldogs to just four hits.

In Manchester on May 28, the Terriers nearly doubled their run total in a 24-3 rout of the Bulldogs. That left the Terriers with a 13-3 record and clinched the No. 3 seed in the Division III playoffs. They'll host the winner of the first round game between No. 6 Windsor and No. 11 Northfield on Friday, June 5, at 4 p.m.

• Leland & Gray finished the regular season at home with a win and two losses last week.

On Memorial Day, the Rebels came up short in a 16-14 shootout with Otter Valley, The teams combined for 30 hits and 16 walks as Leland & Gray lost despite getting four home runs - two from MacKenzie Boyle, and one each from Erica Cutts and Jordan Gouger.

The turning point was the sixth inning, when the Otters scored eight runs to turn a 8-6 deficit into a 14-8 lead. A Rebel rally in the seventh, which included a two-out grand slam from Boyle, fell short. Boyle drove six runs, while Gouger finished with three hits.

The Rebels rebounded with a 7-1 win over Twin Valley on May 26, but dropped the regular season finale, a 5-1 loss to Springfield on May 28. Springfield pitcher Jade Twombley threw a three hitter and struck out 10 to get the win. Keltsey Rushton took the loss for the Rebels, whose lone run was scored on an RBI double by Jesse Stockwell.

The Rebels took a 7-9 record into the postseason. They got the No. 9 seed in the Division III torunament, and were scheduled to play at No. 8 Williamstown in the first round on June 2.

• Twin Valley finished with an 8-8 record and earned the No. 5 seed in the Division IV tournament. They get a bye in the first round, and play at No. 4 Blue Mountain in a quarterfinal game on Friday, June 5.


• The Brattleboro girls advanced to the Division I quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 with a 5-2 win over Spaulding in a first-round match on May 26 at the BUHS courts.

The sixth-seeded Colonels swept the doubles matches and won three of the five singles matches against No. 11 Spaulding.

The top doubles team of Emily Tanis and Haley Marcil fought back to beat the Spaulding tandem of Maddy Pletzer and Randi Dudley 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-1). At No. 2 doubles, Danielle Looman and Grace Willingham took care of Spaulding's Emma Fischer and Kayla Pelloni 6-1, 6-2.

In singles play, Brattleboro's Taylor Bird outscored Lizzie Tchautouridze 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1., while Aliza Racine won her match at No. 3, defeating Spaulding's Shelby Jewett, 6-2, 6-1, and Greta Larson was victorious at No. 5 over Spaulding's Abby Savoie 6-3, 6-4.

The Colonels kept it rolling last Friday with a 4-3 win over third-seeded Mount Anthony in a quarterfinal in Bennington.

No. 3 Grace Page and No. 5 Anna Salem won their singles matches in straight sets for MAU. Brattleboro tied it when the No. 1 doubles duo of Tanis and Marcil came up winners in straight sets, and No. 1 singles player Taylor Bird rallied to beat MAU's Margaret Curtin, 2-6, 6-4 (10-4).

Brattleboro's No. 2 doubles tandem of Willingham and Looman won 6-3, 6-3, to put the Colonels ahead, and Jaida Henry clinched the win at No. 4 singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win over MAU's Erica Frost.

Brattleboro (11-4) was scheduled to face second-seeded South Burlington (13-2) in the semifinals on June 2.

• The No. 2 doubles team of Aaron Hart-Anthony Mueller won the deciding match on May 26 to give the seventh-seeded Bellows Falls boys a 4-3 victory over No. 10 Rutland in a Division I playdown.

Gonzalo Borque, Tim Guyon and Lucas Clark added singles wins for the Terriers.

The Terriers then upset previously undefeated second-ranked BFA-St. Albans, 4-3, in the quarterfinals.

BF (10-3) was scheduled to face No. 3 South Burlington (13-1) in the semifinals on June 2.


• Woodstock parlayed a strong second half into a 10-6 win over the Brattleboro boys at Natowich Field on May 26. The game was tied 4-4 at the half, but Woodstock scored five unanswered goals to take control for good. Brattleboro's Brennen Zolnoski scored four goals and Jack Gagnon added two more.

Against Mount Anthony last Friday at Natowich Field, the Colonels fell behind, fought hard to come back, and ultimately lost, 15-12. The Patriots led 12-5 after three quarters, but the Colonels outscored MAU by a 7-3 margin in the final quarter to make a game of it.

That left the Colonels with a 10-6 record, and a No. 5 seed in the Division I tournament. They were scheduled to host No. 12 Spaulding at Natowich Field in a first round game on June 2. The winner of that game faces No. 4 Essex in the quarterfinals on Friday, June 5.

• The Brattleboro girls finished the regular season with a 5-11 record, which earned them the No. 11 seed in the Division I playoffs. They are scheduled to play a first-round game at No. 6 Middlebury on June 3.

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