In boys baseball: Whitcomb lefty ends Chargers comeback

Craftsbury Charger Iva Wright lays down a textbook bunt during Friday night's varsity match between the Chargers and the visiting Whitcomb Hornets.  Due to insufficient numbers to field a softball team, Wright and Sarah Dunbar have earned spots on the boys' varsity baseball squad.  The team is further bolstered by the addition of two United Christian Academy students — Jon DeLaBruere and Marc Quirion. Photos by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury Charger Iva Wright lays down a textbook bunt during Friday night’s varsity match between the Chargers and the visiting Whitcomb Hornets. Due to insufficient numbers to field a softball team, Wright and Sarah Dunbar have earned spots on the boys’ varsity baseball squad. The team is further bolstered by the addition of two United Christian Academy students — Jon DeLaBruere and Marc Quirion.
Photos by Richard Creaser

copyright the chronicle 05-08-13

by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Whitcomb High lefty Bradford Allen gave the visiting Hornets just what they needed to secure the win over the host Craftsbury Academy Chargers on Friday night.  Allen would close out the game for Hornets starter Cody Snelling and shut down the Chargers offense with a pair of three-up, three-down innings to give Whitcomb the 11-9 victory.

“They’ve never faced a lefty before and I don’t expect they are likely to see another,” Craftsbury Coach Dan Locke said of his team after the game.  “He was just lights out.  He did what they needed done.”

Craftsbury got off to a fine start taking advantage of stolen bases to plate three runs in the first inning to give the home team an early 3-0 lead.  Those would be the last runs that Whitcomb’s Snelling would allow for the next four innings.

Speedy Craftsbury Charger Caleb Paquette burns down the first baseline and beats out the throw to Whitcomb Hornet Sam Ennis during Friday's varsity baseball game in Craftsbury Common.  Whitcomb would go on to win the game 11-9.

Speedy Craftsbury Charger Caleb Paquette burns down the first baseline and beats out the throw to Whitcomb Hornet Sam Ennis during Friday’s varsity baseball game in Craftsbury Common. Whitcomb would go on to win the game 11-9.

Pitching for Craftsbury, Brandon Locke had a puzzlingly inconsistent outing.  At times Brandon Locke seemed dominant striking out six batters through five innings of play.  That compares markedly when held against a pair of hit batsmen, a series of walks and wild pitches that allowed Whitcomb to grab the advantage.

“We need to work on the walks and hit by pitch,” Coach Locke said.  “On the whole I think we were pretty solid pitching wise and our defense held up for the most part.  Whitcomb was able to take advantage of some mistakes and it cost us.”

The Hornets would respond with an offensive barrage of their own in the second inning, tying up the game.  The Hornets would take the lead in the top of the third before exploding for four more runs in the top of the fourth and another in the top of the fifth.  Despite being down six runs with more than half of the game already in the books, the Chargers never gave up hope.

Whitcomb's Alex Messier (center) successfully defends the plate against Craftsbury's Iva Wright during the first inning of the varsity baseball game on Friday night.  Wright's Charger teammate Marc Quirion (foreground) observes after stepping away from the batter's box.  Despite a valiant comeback the Chargers would fall shy and Whitcomb would claim the win 11-9.

Whitcomb’s Alex Messier (center) successfully defends the plate against Craftsbury’s Iva Wright during the first inning of the varsity baseball game on Friday night. Wright’s Charger teammate Marc Quirion (foreground) observes after stepping away from the batter’s box. Despite a valiant comeback the Chargers would fall shy and Whitcomb would claim the win 11-9.

“We were always trying to get back into it, ” Charger Jeremiah Lasher said after the game.  “We knew we were down but we never thought that we couldn’t get back.  We just had to play harder.”

Brandon Locke helped out his own cause by singling and taking advantage of a fielding error allowing him to reach second.  A stolen base later and he was only one stop away from scoring.  Caleb Paquette accepted the challenge and singled Locke in from third.  United Christian Academy’s Marc Quirion, playing for the Chargers, beat out an infield single to put two on for Craftsbury.  Snelling would retire the next two batters before Lasher chopped a hot-shot down the third base line that bounced over Whitcomb’s Matt Townsend and into left field.  That shot would drive in both Paquette and Quirion to cut the Hornets’ lead to 9-6.

Frank Spiese replaced Brandon Locke on the mound in the top of the sixth inning.  Spiese would allow the first two batters to score before stranding a man on third and concluding the inning with a strikeout.  Whitcomb now led the game 11-6.

With Josh Coville and Austin Masi on base, Brandon Locke would again come through at the plate and drive in Coville with an RBI double.  It would prove to be the beginning of the end for Snelling as he surrendered three consecutive walks, including bringing home Masi and Brandon Locke on base on balls.

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Whitcomb’s Bradford Allen gets caught looking on a called third strike from Craftsbury Charger Brandon Locke (not pictured) to catcher Jeremiah Lasher. Allen would get his revenge by shutting down Craftsbury in order through the final two innings of the game to preserve Whitcomb’s 11-9 lead.

As Allen took the mound for the Hornets he inherited three runners and no outs and a slender two run lead.  He proved up to the task, retiring the first two batters on strikes before fielding a soft chop and throwing out the runner at first to end the threat.

The Chargers’ Spiese settled into his role in the top of the seventh, allowing only a single base runner while striking out two to close out Whitomb’s chances on the day.  Unfortunately for the home team, Allen continued his dominance mowing down the Craftsbury batters in order to earn the save and preserve Snelling’s win.

“We had some trouble finishing up,” Coach Locke said after the game.  “We weren’t able to get those guys in from second base or third base.  We were hitting it hard but it was just right at them.”

Coach Locke commended his team on remaining focused on the game.  Being down six runs and five runs makes it difficult to stay focused especially for a team as young as the Chargers, he said.

“You have to learn how to win with grace and you also need to learn to lose with grace,” Coach Locke said.  “It might not have gone the way I had hoped but I’m proud of them.  There’s something positive to take away from this game.”

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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