MONTPELIER — Keegan Smith followed up an emotional pre-game ceremony Thursday by leading the Montpelier baseball team to an inspirational victory.
Smith’s older brother, Peyton, died last October at the age of 18 following a long battle with pediatric bone cancer. Prior to the Solons’ 13-5 victory over Oxbow, Montpelier held a ceremony paying tribute to Peyton and dedicating the field and scoreboard in his honor. Athletic director Matt Link presented Peyton’s No. 45 jersey to the Smith family in remembrance of what he meant to MHS baseball.
The game began in spite of some rain, and Keegan Smith made contact on the first pitch to ignite a big first inning.
“Keegan had been working super hard in practice,” MHS coach Logan Cooke said. “He’s a freshman and he’d been putting together good at-bats in our first few games. He went 2-for-3 with a hit on the first pitch of the game, which was really special considering that we had just come from his brother’s dedication. Sometimes the universe does magical things. And there was something super special going on there. It was a solid line drive and he was able to score. He’s a utility guy for us. He’s a lefty and he’s been getting reps at first base and outfield. And he made a diving catch on a sinking line drive today in the third inning.”
Keegan Smith added another clutch hit in a four-run fourth inning, helping MHS close out the victory during a game that was called after five innings due to challenging conditions. Both teams scored two runs in the first frame before Montpelier pulled ahead with a seven-run second inning.
“We got the W in the rain,” Cooke said. “It was on and off. It had its spurts where it would pick up and then it would let off. And then right as the game finished, it really started to come down.”
Nate Groff’s three-run double in the second inning allowed the Solons to pull ahead and stay ahead against the perennial Division III power.
“Nate had the biggest hit of the day,” Cooke said. “The bases were loaded and the game could have gone either way at that point. And he hit a double down the line and it cleared the bases for us.”
Oxbow starter Andrew Emerson gave up three hits, issued four walks and recorded one strikeout during one-plus inning. Hits by Keegan Smith and Andrew Tringe sparked a four-run outburst in the fourth inning.
Tringe earned the victory on the mound after recording eight strikeouts during the first four innings. Relief pitcher Braeden Adams issued three walks, recorded two strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit during the final inning.
“Andrew had a different routine and that threw him off a little, but he was able to find it eventually,” Cooke said. “He’s got a good mix of a couple pitches. He’s been working on being able to dial his velocity up and he’s finding that starting-pitcher groove. Even late in counts, he can dial it up and step it up a lot. Right now, young kids are stepping up on the mound for us. Andrew worked through some bad weather and did enough to give us a quality outing. And we have a lot of guys who still haven’t seen a lot of time on the mound. We have a lot more depth than people have seen and that’s going be really important the rest of the season.”
Montpelier (3-1) will host U-32 at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We ask a lot of these guys,” Cooke said. “They’re getting reps at multiple positions and expected to learn it. We’re still trying to find out where everyone fits. And we’re trying to use our bats to carry us in these games.”
Spaulding 13, Vergennes 3
BARRE — Winning pitcher Grady Chase allowed two hits during five innings Thursday for the undefeated Crimson Tide.
Vergennes scored three runs in the first inning, thanks to RBIs by Jarret Muzzy, Tucker Stearns and Barret Barrows. Spaulding grabbed the lead in the bottom of the frame. Zach Stabell and Kieran McNamara delivered doubles before Danny Kiniry and Zack Wilson added singles.
Spaulding added six more runs in the fifth inning. Singles by McNamara (3-for-3, four stolen bases) and Kiniry got things started before Cole McAllister reached base on a walk. An error on a ball put in play by Dylan Blachand combined with a double by Chase gave the Tide lots of momentum.
Trevor Arsenault pitched the final inning for Spaulding, which recorded 14 stolen bases as a team. Muzzy took the loss for Vergennes (0-4).
Spaulding (3-0) will travel to play Mount Abraham for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Vergennes 17, Spaulding 11
BARRE — The Commodores thrived in challenging conditions during Thursday’s high-scoring shootout against the Crimson Tide.
“We were supposed to be home but our field wasn’t in good shape,” Spaulding coach Tara Simpson said.
Losing pitcher Cydney Ferrer recorded six strikeouts and issued three walks. Spaulding’s Allison Everett connected for two doubles and teammate Sage Johnson added one double and one single. Ariana Thurber, Emily Lamberti and Mariah Hoar contributed one hit apiece for the Granite City squad.
Spaulding (1-2) will host Rice at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Harwood 16, U-32 1
EAST MONTPELIER — It took awhile before the Highlanders pulled away Thursday.
But when it rained, it poured.
Finn O’Hara (four goals, four assists) helped Harwood open the floodgates in the fourth quarter during a muddy clash.
The Highlanders held a 1-0 advantage after the first quarter before extending their lead to 4-0 entering halftime. An 8-0 cushion after three quarters allowed the defending Division II runners-up to fire away and spread the wealth in the final quarter.
“We started out slow, but our defense played so well,” Harwood coach Russ Beilke said. “The midfield was great too and it was a whole team thing.”
Goalie Addison Dietz made one save during the first three quarters for Harwood. Gavin Thomsen, Jack Lansky, Grant McCracken, Iyla Levitt and Steven Valadaks anchored the Highlanders’ defense.
Cam Forbes scored three goals for HU, while Jordan Grimaldi (two assists), Thomsen and Avery Fish tallied two goals apiece. Teammate Tyson Sylvia scored his first varsity goal and Sawyer Simmons dished out four assists.
Harwood (2-0) will travel to play BFA-Fairfax at 4 p.m. Monday. U-32 (0-1) will travel to play Spaulding at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Montpelier 15, South Burlington 2
MONTPELIER — The Solons cut down on some careless mistakes Thursday and took care of business against the Wolves.
Eliana Moorhead (seven goals, one assist), Lucia McCallum (three points, one assist) and Sophia Flora (three goals) guided the Solons. Mae Browning (one goal, eight assists) and Maple Perchlik (one goal, four assists) also had big games.
“Our goal was to improve our efficiency and have fewer turnovers than our last two games,” Montpelier coach Nolan Benoit said. “We did that in a huge way with only three turnovers in the first half and nine turnovers for the whole game. That’s less than one turnover per point scored. For context, in our first win of the season we averaged over four turnovers per point. That efficiency, our tight defense and reliance on our solid offensive systems helped us secure the win.”
Montpelier will travel to play BFA-Fairfax at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.
St. Johnsbury 6, U-32 1
ST. JOHNSBURY — The Hilltoppers swept the doubles actions and added four singles victories Thursday.
Mary Fowler, Zhi Howes, Maggie Anderson and Mckenna Brochu gave St. Johnsbury a huge boost in singles action. Howes rallied to a 5-7, 6-4, 10-7 victory over Tovah Williams at the No. 3 position. Anderson won another tight match at No. 4 by holding off Caitlin Dodge-Prescott, 6-4, 6-4.
Ellie Coyle and Kay Connor didn’t lose any games at No. 1 doubles. Julia Chadderton and Maya Balcowski triumphed at the No. 2 spot.
Raiders senior Lucy Krokenberger prevailed at No. 1 singles. U-32 (1-1) will host North Country at 4 p.m. Monday.
Lucy Krokenberger (U) def. Miwa Ozawci 6-3, retired Mary Fowler (SJ) def. Jasmine Toro 6-0, 6-1 Zhi Howes (SJ) def. Tovah Williams 5-7, 6-4, 10-7 Maggie Anderson (SJ) def. Caitlin Dodge-Prescott 6-4, 6-4 Mckenna Brochu (SJ) def. Kallista Parton 8-2