EAST MONTPELIER — Loads of MLB scouts finally caught a glimpse of the genuine article Tuesday when Owen Kellington took the mound for U-32.
For the Raiders, it was a classic case of déjà vu as the senior power pitcher threw his second no-hitter in a week.
All the pressure from so many big-league eyeballs didn’t rattle Kellington, who struck out 15 batters in an 11-0 baseball victory over Montpelier. He followed up another 15-strikeout performance during last Tuesday’s 13-0 win over Northfield. The University of Connecticut recruit belted three-run home runs in both contests, which ended after five innings
“Owen touches 90 mph on a regular basis,” MHS coach Logan Cooke said. “With a kid like that, there’s really not much to talk about with your players. He’s in a league of his own, and our hitters aren’t trained on that. We don’t even have a pitching machine that throws as hard as he throws — let alone being able to work on it in practice. The most you can do is just tip your hat. And he mixes up his pitches really well too, so you can’t just go in there sitting on a fastball and swing as hard as you can three times. He’s the best pitcher in the state.”
Kellington also connected for a double and finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Last Tuesday he homered in the fourth inning against Northfield and wound up 2-for-3 with three runs scored. The Raiders (4-1) have outscored opponents 46-3 during their past four outings.
“We weren’t prepared for the game,” Cooke said. “We knew the task ahead of us and I think the guys let it get to them. There were probably over a dozen MLB scouts behind home plate. So you have to give the kid credit for not letting the pressure of the moment get in the way. Before the game, I told him that it’s impressive. And then to throw a no-hitter and have all these scouts watching — and he hit a home run.”
U-32 freshman Kevin Dowling was the catcher for both no-hitters. The South Burlington transfer played with Kellington in the summer for the Concord (N.H.) Cannons travel team and established a good rapport with the reigning Times Argus Player of the Year.
“Kevin is a jack of all trades,” U-32 coach Geoff Green said. “I told him early in the season, ‘You probably shouldn’t expect to play the same position two games in a row.’ But he and Owen have worked together and they’ve got a good relationship. Owen feels comfortable with Kevin. And at the end of the day, that’s pretty important for him.”
Despite the final outcome, Green and the Raiders are unapologetic about their exacting standards as they seek the program’s first championship. U-32 fielded its first varsity team in 1972 and made its only finals appearance in 2017, suffering a 3-2 loss to Otter Valley.
“Looking back at both of Owen’s starts, obviously he was very dominant,” Green said. “But he’s probably looking at those, thinking he could be better. He walked a couple guys tonight, he walked a couple guys the other day. Fifteen strikeouts is great: He’s throwing tons of strikes. But he could be better, and I think he knows that. Our mission going forward is: How do we eliminate the walks? And two walks is fine. Our goal is zero walks given up. Owen knows that and he feels that’s an excellent goal. He was certainly dominant tonight and he was in the strike zone all day. But going forward, we’re on to the areas where we can improve — even if they’re very small.”
The Division II Raiders opened the season with a 9-4 loss at Randolph before getting untracked during the past two weeks. Tuesday’s result capped a season sweep over the D-III Solons after U-32 earned a 14-3 victory in the Capital City on May 1.
“We’ve been very aggressive all year with a lot of stolen bases,” Green said. “We’re really trying to push the envelope and make sure that the other team has to be perfect on defense. We want to send a message that we are going to run and we are going to make you guys make plays. And if you want to get us out, then you need to make sure that you execute your plays.”
U-32’s Charlie Haynes went 3-for-3 against the Solons with a pair of doubles off the right-field wall. Teammate Noah McLane added a a triple, while Anthony Concessi recorded a one-run single.
“It’s great to see a lot of guys stepping up and contributing,” Green said. “We feel like we have a very deep team. And every night it seems like another guy is stepping up and adding a couple hits, driving in a few runs to take us over the top. We have a very deep lineup and we feel good with whoever goes out there.”
U-32 scored one run in the first inning before extending its lead to 2-0 in the second. The Raiders opened up a 5-0 advantage in the third inning before Kellington belted his third homer of the season during a six-run fourth inning.
“One thing we can still be working on as a team is taking advantage of opportunities early,” Green said. “In the first inning we had the bases loaded with one out, and we were only able to get one run out of it. We had the bases loaded again and we were only able to get another run or two out of that. And going back to our game against Lake Region over the weekend, we had a similar thing. We had a lot of guys on base, but we couldn’t quite get the big hit early to drive them in and break it open. So going forward, our job is to figure out how we can take advantage of opportunities early in the game. We want to make sure we’re putting the other team on their heels, instead of giving them opportunities to stay in the game.”
Andrew Tringe started on the mound for MHS and took the loss. Teammates Nick Rubin and Keegan Smith made their first appearances on the mound in varsity action. Montpelier (6-2) will travel to play North Country at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We didn’t play well today on any side of the ball,” Cooke said. “We were getting closer to making contact at the end. If you give our guys 15 at-bats against a guy like that, then maybe something might happen. Andrew (Tringe) put up a good at-bat at the end and fouled off a few pitches. That’s usually not the bar you want to have, but it was the best we did today. It’s just hard to get fired up when you’re facing a guy like that and you know that scoring runs is next to impossible. He’s an excellent baseball player. As happy as I am to see him be successful, I’m even more happy that we don’t have to see him again.”
U-32 (4-1) will host Randolph at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Ultimately, we’re getting better and we feel confident,” Green said. “But we’re still early in the season and we have a long ways to go. The guys recognize that and they’re ready to get back to work (Wednesday) in practice and get ready for Randolph on Thursday.”
Spaulding 23, Missisquoi 2
SWANTON — Winning pitcher Dylan Bachand was unstoppable for five innings Tuesday against the Thunderbirds.
Bachand gave up two hits and struck out five batters. He was also a force offensively, belting a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Trevor Arsenault, Danny Kiniry, Zach Stabell, and Cole McAllister recorded multiple hits for the Tide, who recorded 14 hits as a team.
Spaulding improves to 8-1, while Missisquoi falls to 4-6. The Tide will host Milton at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
U-32 12, Northfield 0
NORTHFIELD — An eight-run fourth inning helped the Raiders end things after the fifth frame Tuesday.
Four U-32 players recorded two hits: Caroline Flynn (three RBIs), Kiki Hayward (double), Allie Guthrie (double) and Sage Winner. Flynn earned the complete-game victory on the mound. She gave up three hits, registered three strikeouts and issued zero walks.
The Raiders built a 1-0 lead in the first inning before scoring three runs in the second. U-32 (4-1) committed one error, while the Marauders (0-3) had four errors.
Northfield will travel to play Williamstown at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. U-32 will host Randolph at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Middlebury 7, Spaulding 3
BARRE — Multiple-hit performances by Emma Deering, Olivia Audet and Hannah Cameron propelled the Tigers past the Crimson Tide on Tuesday.
Allison Everett, Bria Dill, Mariah Hoar and Rebecca Mckelvey recorded hits for the Tide. Riley Farrell, Emma Welch, Patience Hanley, Grace Paquette and Olivia McCray added base hits for Middlebury.
Cydney Ferrer took the loss on the mound. She struck out nine batters and issued one walk. Winning pitcher Olivia Audet racked up nine strikeouts and also issued one walk.
Spaulding (2-6) will host Milton at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Harwood 14, Spaulding 6
BARRE — Six goals and three assists from Highlanders junior Finn O’Hara made life difficult for the Crimson Tide under the lights Tuesday night.
“(O’Hara) is a dynamic player,” Spaulding coach Ian Thomas said. “He has a quick first step and he’s also got lengthy speed too. He’s not just a quick-burst player, so he can get up and down the field really quickly. He pushed in transition and he played both midfield and attack. He’s on the wings on face-offs, but then he’ll stay down on attack and he’s looking to draw a slide. But if you don’t slide, he’s able to beat his man pretty clean.”
Harwood fell behind 2-0 at the start of the first quarter and faced deficits of 4-2 and 6-4. A trio of goals late in the second quarter gave HU a 7-6 lead at the break.
“We played a really good first half and our dense played very well,” Thomas. “They only had three 6-on-6 goals in settled offense. And four of their goals in the first half came in transition.”
Sawyer Simmons scored three goals in the victory, while teammate Jon O’Brien added two goals and one assist. Jordan Grimaldi (one assist), Cam Forbes and Avery Fish also scored for HU, while teammates Pacie McGrath notched two assists.
“Sawyer Simmons is really great player for them,” Thomas said. “And Jack Lansky had a phenomenal game on defense and caused a lot of turnovers.”
Gavin Thomsen led Harwood’s defense and teammate Addison Dietz made seven saves in front of the cage. Brian Bechtel and Tim Russo combined to win 10 of 19 face-off battles for HU.
“They crushed us on time of possession in the second half,” Thomas said. “We had a penalty and there was a momentum swing with about six minutes left in the third quarter. And right after they scored, we got a two-minute locked-in penalty for a cross-check. And then we had another penalty after that. So they were two players up and they scored 30 seconds into that penalty, so that first penalty got released. We were a man down for about 1:30 after that, and they put in two more. And then we didn’t see the ball again in the third quarter, so we dug ourselves into a big hole. Face-offs were even in the fourth quarter, but they did a good job closing it out. They weren’t stalling, but they were picking and choosing their matches. We rushed a few looks in the fourth, and they either had a nice save or caused a turnover. We showed our youth pushing things too early, so we weren’t able to get deep into our sets in the second half. And they did a great job of getting deep into their sets and having long possessions.”
Spaulding’s top scorers were Colby Berard (two goals, two assists), Aiden Blouin (one goal, two assists), Aidan Kresco (two goals) and Cam Kearney (one goal). Teammate Chris Howarth made a season-high 22 saves.
The Tide (5-2) will travel to play BFA-Fairfax at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The Highlanders (4-1) will host Montpelier at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Harwood’s depth was a big factor,” Thomas said. “They have 20 strictly varsity players and we have 14. And it’s deeper than just playing on the field. When you have such a deep team every day at practice, it creates competition for playing time. And it’s usually upperclassmen leading the way. We have five seniors and we’re a young team overall. We’re playing a lot of underclassmen and they need some time to develop and to grow into the game. Harwood has a senior-led team and it’s a difference-maker. They have a great program and a great feeder program. We’re right where we need to be, but it’s both understanding momentum swings in the game and getting our young players even more varsity experience. We have to understand how to claw back. And if penalties are a problem, we have to really cherish the ball on offense and possess longer.”
Montpelier 15, Middlebury 1
MONTPELIER — Neither wind nor rain fazed the undefeated Solons during Tuesday’s lopsided victory.
“Middlebury is a brand new team, but they played well,” MHS coach Nolan Benoit said. “The weather was really bizarre today, which led to some long points. But thankfully we scored them in the end. We had everything from blue sky and no wind, to heavy rain and winds.”
The Solons’ offensive leaders were Mae Browning (one goal, five assists), Elianna Moorhead (two goals, four assists), Susha Benoit (four goals) and Lucia McCallum (three goals).
Montpelier (6-0) will host BFA-Fairfax (4-2) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Solons earned an 11-7 victory over the Bullets last week.
South Burlington 14, Montpelier 5
SOUTH BURLINGTON — The unbeaten Wolves overcame blustery conditions Tuesday while extending their winning steak to six games.
Both teams committed a slew a traveling violations before settling down in the second half. The Wolves (6-0) secured their second straight double-digit victory and have limited opponents to an average of eight points per contest.
“That was a difficult game,” MHS coach Anne Watson said. “We were down multiple players to start and then a few more got injured during the game. …This was one of our windiest games and most of the scores for both teams were downwind.”
Montpelier played its second game in a 24-hour window after suffering a 15-11 loss to Mount Mansfield on Monday. Gabe Hall, Ethan Borland, Jasper Turner and Liam Boyles were strong distributors for the Solons against South Burlington.
“They were our anchor handlers through the game,” coach Watson said. “Andre Savard also filled in a couple of times as a handler and did a great job.”
Montpelier (4-4) will host Rice at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Harwood 5, BFA-St. Albans 1
WATERBURY — Gritty efforts up and down the singles lineup helped Harwood take control during a dogfight against the Bobwhites.
Cole Baitz, Eric Dessureau, Dylan Silveira and Leif Brouillette won close matches to tip the scales in the team battle. Baitz overcame a second-set letdown to close out a 6-1, 3-6, 10-2 victory at the No. 1 position. Dessureau was a 6-1, 2-6, 10-8 winner at No. 2 singles. Silveira wrapped up a 6-3, 7-5 victory, while Brouillette prevailed 6-3, 6-4.
Both squads forfeited the No. 2 doubles contest. Harwood (1-2) will travel to play North Country at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Cole Baitz (H) def. Nate Smullen 6-1, 3-6, 10-2 Jayden Bedard (B) def. Colin Deschamps 6-2, 7-6(1) Eric Dessureau (H) def. Jacob Spooner 6-1, 2-6, 10-8 Dylan Silveira (H) def. Dustin Ward 6-3, 7-5 Leif Brouillette (H) def. Lasse Ramirez 6-3, 6-4
Rohin Jordan and River Collins (H) won by forfeit