DUXBURY — Vermonters know that if you don’t like the weather, all you have to do is wait a few minutes.
As far as high school baseball goes, it’s pretty much the same mantra: Wait a few minutes and let the other team make some mistakes.
When No. 4 Harwood earned a 6-5 victory over No. 5 Lamoille in Friday’s Division II quarterfinal, much was the Highlanders’ success was due to offensive patience and a few timely hits.
“I knew coming into the game that we could beat Lamoille,” Harwood catcher Chase Reagan said. “But I also knew that over my four years of playing them that they’re a good, competitive team that can keep a game close. It was just a matter of shaking the nerves and putting the ball in play.”
Reagan’s two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning proved to be the pivotal hit for the Highlanders as they bounced back from a slow start at the plate to go up 6-2. The four-run lead was a nice cushion, but interim coach Scott Lamson knew it was about making plays behind his starter Charlie Zschau that would matter in the later innings.
“We lost nine seniors last year and this year we’ve got four freshmen out there,” Lamson said. “We managed to capitalize on their mistakes. And when I need a hit, we get hits and we run the bases well. Lamoille came to play and they play us tough every time we face them. From the first to the seventh, there’s no doubt they’re going to battle you.”
Zschau went six-plus innings on the mound, striking out six while scattering eight hits and walking one. He didn’t overpower the Lancers, but his ability to get outs when he needed them proved to be the difference. Lamoille pitcher Garrett Martin was solid, striking out six and walking five over six innings.
The Lancers pulled ahead 1-0 on a solo home run from Keith Lanphear, but three unearned runs allowed Harwood to jump ahead 3-1. The Lancers scored their second run in the fourth inning to close the gap to 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth Harwood’s Skylar Platt led off with a walk and Cam Joslin followed with a single. After some smart base-running by both players, Bobby Kelly followed with a run-scoring single and Reagan added his big hit for a 6-2 lead.
The Lamoille bats went to work on Zschau in the final two innings. And while the Harwood defense bent, it didn’t break. Patience on defense was the key, preventing Lamoille from scratching back into contention. Chris James took the ball in relief of Zschau for the final two outs of the game. The Lancers scored two more runs in the final inning to keep things close. But with runners on second and third, James got Lanphear to pop out to end the game.
Harwood (10-3) will travel to play No.1 Otter Valley (17-1) in Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal. Lamoille finishes the season at 9-7.