DUXBURY — A pair of 10-9 victories left the Harwood baseball team perfectly satisfied after a long twin bill Saturday.
The Highlanders didn’t anticipate earning identical results before back-to-back games against Thetford and Vergennes. But that’s exactly what they got after six hours and 16 innings.
“We had our ups and our downs,” Harwood coach Mitch Casey said. “I thought we played well sporadically, and we are not giving up. We keep plugging along and we keep scoring runs and doing what we need to do to win.”
The Highlanders (4-2) have scored precisely 10 runs in four games this season. Their offense nearly overwhelmed the Panthers during Saturday’s first game, but Thetford was resilient and Harwood needed nine innings to finish the job.
“We scored six in the first so we thought we were on easy street,” Casey said. “But we just went dormant after that. And in the bottom of the ninth we managed to squeeze one across on a wild pitch of all things.”
Following a short break, the Highlanders returned to the field and beat Vergennes by the same score. The Commodores (8-3) boast an impressive résumé with victories over Division I Middlebury and Spaulding, but their comeback attempt fizzled out against HU.
“Both games we jumped right out with leads, and kind of petered away that lead and made it close,” Harwood coach Mitch Casey said. “It’s just nice to win. We lost our first two and we’ve won four in a row and it really feels good to be playing winning baseball. They might be tight, they might be a little sloppy here and there. But it’s good to win and it’s good to keep battling away.”
Charlie Zschau was the winning pitcher against Thetford after giving up two hits over four innings. He didn’t issue any walks and recorded six strikeouts. Chris James started on the mound for Harwood. He registered three strikeouts, issued five walks and gave up six hits over four-plus innings.
“(James) did pretty well as a freshman,” Casey said.
James, Bobby Kelly and Adyn Oshkello had two hits apiece for the Highlanders, who scored six runs in the first inning. Aiden Nichols went 3-for-5 to pace the Panthers at the plate and Seth Boyce added a pair of hits.
During the second game winning pitcher Nate Pierce gave up nine hits over five-plus innings. He recorded five strikeouts and issued three walks. Harwood’s top offensive players were Kelly (2-for-4) Chase Reagan (2-for-3, double), Zschau (2-for-4) and James (double). Losing pitcher Cooper O’Brien belted a grand slam during the fourth inning. Commodores slugger Jeff Stearns went 3-for-3 with two doubles, while teammates Jarret Muzzy and Ira White were both 2-for-4.
“(O’Brien) got that grand slam and we turned around and scored two, and we had a fairly healthy lead at that point,” Casey said. “At the end of the game they were threatening in the bottom of the seventh. They had a runner going from second to third, with the tying run on third — which headed to home.
The hitter hit a ground ball to the shortstop and it hit the runner, so it was runner interference for the third out. What a way to end it.”