RANDOLPH — After starting the season with two straight losses, the Harwood baseball team has won five games in a row.
The Highlanders jumped out early Tuesday with a three-run first inning, and held off a late-inning comeback attempt by Randolph to earn a 9-5 victory. Skylar Platt went 3-for-4 with one RBI for HU, while teammate Chase Reagan went 2-for-4 with a double.
“We come out early and then fall asleep in the middle of the game,” Harwood coach Mitch Casey said. “It’s been our modus operandi all season long. Then we score a few runs at the end of the game and hopefully hold on.”
It’s a good thing that when playing the field in baseball, you get to wear at least one glove. The snow that blanketed Central Vermont on Tuesday morning was a sharp reminder that there’s no controlling Mother Nature. While the snow was gone by game time, the damp chill that hung in the air forced fans to dress more like they were attending a late-fall soccer match.
A single from Charlie Zschau drove in Cam Joslin and Bobby Kelly for the game’s first two runs in the first-inning punch. Chris James followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 before the Ghosts had a chance to swing the bat.
Platt was Harwood’s starting pitcher and he kept the Randolph bats quiet for the first four innings, allowing his defense to do the heavy lifting behind him. Platt allowed two hits, with only Zach Whitmore reaching scoring position in the second inning. Harwood added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning for a 5-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Ghosts showed their mettle. The first two batters reached base, with Kurt Engel driving in one with a single. James Grandy then followed with a run-scoring single of his own — and he also gave a lesson in rundown tactics. After reaching base safely, he purposely got caught in a rundown between first and second that caught the Harwood defense napping. As they tried to prevent Grandy from taking second base, Engel scampered home from third base to make it 5-3. A few minutes later, Ben Osha drove Grandy in with a single, making it 5-4.
“Something we’ve really been trying to focus on this week is to take a step from just playing baseball to becoming competitors,” Randolph coach Gary Curley said. “I was pleased with the spirit we showed and the way we fought back and started to compete. I saw some sparks there.”
Harwood’s Caleb Kingsbury walked up to the plate in the top of the sixth and led off with a double. Adyn Oshkello followed with a single. Platt produced a run-scoring single to make it 6-4. The Highlanders added another run to push the score to 7-4. In the top of the seventh, they added a pair of insurance runs as the Ghosts shot themselves in the foot with a trio of errors.
After scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh, Randolph loaded the bases. Luckily for HU, Zschau struck out the final batter.
“We started hot the past couple games but have gone to sleep in the later innings,” Zschau said. “I do everything I can, but the guys have come out and picked it up. We get down a little with the errors, but thankfully we’ve been able to help each other out. I told the guys at the bottom of the lineup to just go out there and slap the ball around. You don’t have to kill it, just put it in play. We’ve got a couple freshmen like Skylar Platt and Chris James who can come in and throw strikes or hit when we need it. They’ve really been playing well in the field and given us confidence.”
Harwood (5-2) will host Oxbow at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Randolph (5-6) will travel to play Montpelier at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Recreation Field.