In boys baseball: LR Ranger Messier delivers perfect game

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Matt Messier delivered a perfect game victory to the host Lake Region Rangers on Wednesday.  Messier would strike out the side three times among his 12 total Ks on the day as the Rangers went on to win 4-0 and improve to 8-5 in boys DII play.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Matt Messier delivered a perfect game victory to the host Lake Region Rangers on Wednesday. Messier would strike out the side three times among his 12 total Ks on the day as the Rangers went on to win 4-0 and improve to 8-5 in boys DII play. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — Lake Region’s Matt Messier performed a rare feat on Wednesday afternoon, retiring all 21 Peoples Academy Wolves in order, including 12 strikeouts.  His perfect game came with more than a little help from his teammates.

“I’ve been around baseball for 28 years, and I’ve never been part of a perfect game,” Lake Region Coach Eric Degre said after the game.  “It’s just incredible to be around this…this aura.”

While credit goes to the pitcher, without the help of his teammates, that perfect game would not have resulted in a win for the Rangers.  Clutch hitting and spectacular fielding all contributed to the historic moment, Coach Degre said.

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In boys basketball playoffs: Ghosts fend off Ranger comeback bid

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Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night.  A Lake Region senior, Provoncha's 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium. Photo by Richard Creaser

Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night. A Lake Region senior, Provoncha’s 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle March 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

BARRE — The Lake Region Rangers (18-4) battled through 20 regular season and two playoff games to earn a berth in Thursday night’s semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.  Squaring off against the second-seeded Randolph Galloping Ghosts (20-2), there were no illusions about how tough a game this would be.  The DIII semifinal marked the first sell-out crowd of the Barre tournament, tournament officials told the Chronicle.

Both teams had fought hard to make it to Barre but only one would emerge to compete for the DIII crown.  On this night, with a 70-59 win, it would be the Ghosts.

“They play good ball pressure,” Ranger Clint Provoncha said of the Ghosts.  “They were really aggressive on defense and they never give up.”

Tenacity was the name of the game for both of these squads.  Though falling behind by a basket in the early goings, Lake Region managed a 7-2 lead until foul troubles upended the Ranger attack.  Halfway through the opening quarter, the Rangers had accrued five fouls.

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Rangers take two from visiting Richford

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Lake Region's Isaac Miller received his first start of the season as he pitched five solid inning of one run ball against the visiting Richford Falcons on Monday afternoon.  Normally used in relief, Miller was pleased with the chance to start for the Rangers and threw five innings of one run ball while recording six strikeouts for the win. Photo by Richard Creaser

Lake Region’s Isaac Miller received his first start of the season as he pitched five solid inning of one run ball against the visiting Richford Falcons on Monday afternoon. Normally used in relief, Miller was pleased with the chance to start for the Rangers and threw five innings of one run ball while recording six strikeouts for the win.
Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — The Lake Region Rangers hosted the visiting Richford Falcons for an impromptu doubleheader Monday afternoon.  Saturday’s regularly scheduled match between the two teams was rained and snowed out and, due to poor field conditions back in Richford, the two teams opted to reschedule their May 30 game to take advantage of good weather and a dry field.  The two wins boosted Lake Region’s season record to 8-5, while Richford fell to 4-8.

The sudden change gave Ranger Isaac Miller a chance to do something he had not yet done this season — pitch the start of a game.  Miller has been used primarily in relief through the season.  With five total games scheduled for this week alone, Coach Eric Degre had to make use of all his pitching assets, and that included giving Miller the ball for the start of game two.

“You just always have to be ready,” Miller said of his new assignment.

As a reliever, one might expect Miller to start strong and then tail off as the innings and pitch count rises.  That wasn’t the case as Miller struggled through the first inning, surrendering a single, three walks, and a run on 30 pitches.  He also struck out two batters in the inning.

“That first inning was not good,” Miller said after the game.  “When I came out in the second I just got in my mind that the guys behind me would make the plays if I just put it in play.  I think I kind of got in my own head a little in the first.”

Miller would cruise through the next four innings, throwing only 39 pitches, while adding four more strikeouts, in the winning effort.

Offense was not lacking as the Rangers teed off on Richford’s Jake Cunningham.  If game one could be characterized as a pitcher’s duel, game two was anything but, at least from the Falcons’ perspective.

The Rangers would tie up the game in the home half of the first and, while Cunningham and Miller would both run through a quick second inning, Cunningham ran into trouble in the third.  Back to back walks to Billy Cashin and Sam Barbeau set the table for an RBI single to Matt Messier.  Dustin Bathalon would then follow up with a big two RBI double that gave the home side a 4-1 lead.

The Rangers would explode for four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of four singles, a double, a walk and an error.  The Rangers would add another run in the bottom of the fifth.  Miller would finish out the fifth with a commanding 9-1 lead.

The defense that carried the Rangers through 13 innings of baseball that day experienced a bump in the top of the seventh inning.  Two hits, a walk, and three errors later the Falcons found themselves having closed the gap to just four runs with only one out.  Coach Degre went back to Messier, who started the first game, to finish off the Richford rally.  Messier would strike out Jose Ramirez and get Deli Hue to fly out to right the ship and preserve Lake Region’s 9-5 win.

Lake Region's Matt Messier enjoyed a solid day both on the mound and at the plate as the Rangers hosted Richford for a doubleheader on Monday.  Messier struck out nine batters en route to a 2-0 win over the Falcons in game one.  As a batter he also recorded two RBIs, two runs and three stolen bases on the day. Photo by Richard Creaser

Lake Region’s Matt Messier enjoyed a solid day both on the mound and at the plate as the Rangers hosted Richford for a doubleheader on Monday. Messier struck out nine batters en route to a 2-0 win over the Falcons in game one. As a batter he also recorded two RBIs, two runs and three stolen bases on the day.
Photo by Richard Creaser

Messier’s first game shutout win was a positive step forward for both the sophomore and the Rangers as a team.  The team has struggled with defensive and offensive consistency this season, Coach Degre said.  On Monday afternoon, it appeared the pieces were finally falling together.

“We’ve been cooped up these last four days so everyone was kind of anxious to get out and play some baseball,” Coach Degre said after the first game.  “We manufactured some runs and Matt pitched an outstanding game.  We played some great baseball.”

Messier credits his strong performance with solid command of his fastball.  His ability to pound the strike zone with his fastball gave him the confidence to throw in the zone.  Messier would retire nine batters in the game.

“Defensively, we were a lot better than we have been,” Messier said.  “I’d say this was probably our best defensive game of the year.”

Messier also gives credit to his catcher, Jeremy Dean, for his part in the shutout.  In the realm of high school baseball, passed balls are almost a given as young pitchers and young catchers try to strike an often imperfect balance.

“In high school baseball passed balls are gonna happen,” Messier said.  “He didn’t allow any and that’s something pretty amazing.  That made sure that the guys who got on didn’t go anywhere.”

The Rangers defensive game was exceptional, until the last inning of the second game that is.  Routine plays remained routine and a few exceptional plays helped keep the damage to a minimum.

“We’ve had some problems with our defense this year,” Coach Degre said.  “But we’ve been working on that.  Friday we did an hour of groundball drills in the gym.”

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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