by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle April 30, 2014
NEWPORT — The purported game time temperature was 46 degrees, but it certainly didn’t feel that way Thursday as the North Country Falcons hosted the Essex Hornets for the first game of the 2014 season at Falcon Field. A strong, frigid wind out of the northwest played a pivotal role in the game.
“We made a lot of good contact,” Falcons pitcher Wyatt Prue said after the game. “We just couldn’t find the holes. If not for the wind, we might have had at least a couple fewer outs.”
Prue and Essex pitcher Nathan Baez matched up well in the contest. Though Baez would pitch seven scoreless, Prue finished his complete game effort, yielding only a single earned run in the Falcons’ 2-0 loss.
“I was feeling pretty good about my pitches,” Prue said. “I got my location working good and a lot of the credit for that goes to my catcher [sophomore Andrew Gonyaw]. I haven’t been this comfortable with a catcher since I pitched to Nate Stewart.”
Stewart was a two-time All-Metro selection for the Falcons who graduated out of the North Country program in 2012.
A fielding error, a sacrifice bunt, a walk, a fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Baez gave the Hornets the lead in the second inning. While the Falcons would routinely get men on base throughout the game, they had trouble bringing them home. Solid contact in the air often resulted in hanging pop flies, providing the Essex fielders with more than enough time to read the wind and settle underneath.
An early line drive by Bryce Carter could have easily resulted in extra bases if not for the wind. The ball’s forward momentum slowed significantly before being blown into the left field foul territory.
“It’s not like we couldn’t hit him,” Prue said of Baez’s pitching. “We had trouble making the hits count.”
One of the Falcons’ best scoring opportunities came in the fourth as Prue launched a leadoff double to open the frame. After a popout to the mound created the first out, Tyler Sanville took one for the team as Baez’s pitch smacked him in the hip to put men on first and second. Nick Sicard chopped one to the mound for an inning -ending 1-5-3 double play to get Baez out of the jam unscathed.
The Hornets similarly had a hard time getting hits off Prue. The Hornets only other run came in the fifth as Essex made Prue pay for the only walk he issued on Friday. Jeremy LeClair started off the inning with a walk and then promptly stole second. Jonathan Palmer laid down a textbook perfect sacrifice bunt to advance LeClair to third. Joey Robertson completed the effort with a sharp liner to short that brought LeClair in to score.
As the game progressed Prue’s control appeared to improve, cold temperatures aside. Prue would record three of his strikeouts in the final two innings, matching his totals from the previous five. He was at a loss to explain why.
“I was using all of my pitches the whole game,” Prue said. “It might have been location. Andrew was calling a good game.”
The loss drops the Falcons to 1-1 on the season. The Falcons picked up their first win on Wednesday as they played what was technically a home game at Colchester. The Falcons won 6-3 behind Collin Myrick’s complete game varsity debut. They return to action on Saturday to face Middlebury on the road.
contact Richard Creaser at email@example.com
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