By Mal Boright
A second helping of Rice (as in Memorial High) was as inedible as the first for the Champlain Valley Union High baseball team, which bowed to the Green Knights 2-1 Tuesday in a Division 1 semifinal test at CVU’s Hinesburg ball yard.
It was the second time in two meetings the 15-4 Redhawks lost to 14-4 Rice, the first a 5-2 decision at mid-season. The loss also sidetracked the Redhawks’ quest for a third straight Division 1 crown.
The third-seeded Green Knights go on to meet fourth-seed South Burlington High for the title.
Coach Tim Albertson’s Redhawks, facing Rice sophomore southpaw Will Hesslink for a second time, produced a run in the bottom of the first inning. Hesslink then took command and the narrow lead did not survive past the top of the fifth, when Rice scored two unearned tallies without a hit on an infield error, two walks and a pair of hit batters.
It was the only serious trouble for CVU righty Rayne Supple, the Redhawks’ lean heat machine, who went the distance and allowed only a Tim Shea double while striking out seven batters, walking just two and clipping three.
CVU poked five hits off Hesslink, two by catcher Hayden Smith, who singled sharply down the left field line in the first to score Deagan Poland, who led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a ground out.
Hesslink did not allow much after that and retired CVU’s last seven batters. He struck out five and walked one.
Fielding gems included a diving grab on a line smash off Rice’s Tommy Fitzgerald’s bat, and Knights’ center fielder Anthony Phillips’ running catch in left center to nix Poland’s bid for an extra base knock.
Any Rice hopes of running wild on the base paths were zapped in the first inning when the bazooka-armed Smith cut down Shea in a try to swipe second.
CVU gained the semifinal with a 5-3 victory Friday over Brattleboro, while Rice on Thursday blanked Rutland High, 5-0.
CVU got in front of Brattleboro 2-0 in the first inning and kept the lead as starting pitcher and winner Supple worked six strong frames, allowing one run and five hits while striking out 12 Colonels.
With Redhawks up 5-1 and Sam Mikell hurling in relief, things got a bit hairy in the top of the seventh and final frame when the visitors pushed a pair of unearned runs over the plate on a single, fielder’s choice, two errors and another single.
With a runner on and the tying run at the plate, Mikell reached back for the strong stuff and restored order for the win with two whiffs.
‘I got the slider working,” said the lean righthander.
CVU got the early jump when Poland led off with a first inning two-bagger. He scored on two passed balls as Supple drew a free pass. The CVU hurler swiped second, took third on a ground out and scored on a Mikell single.
Brattleboro hurler Kassidi Ramirez then limited CVU to a single through the next three innings before the Redhawks struck for three runs in the fifth. Will Potter led off with a hard single to center. He stole second and went to third when Poland reached on an infield miscue.
With one out, Smith cracked a loud single to left center to score two runs, putting CVU up 4-1. After Ramirez chalked up the second of his three fannings in the inning, Kyle Stanley smashed a double to left center to score Smith.
Ramirez gave way to James Mills, who worked a scoreless sixth inning for the Colonels.
CVU baseball nine falls short in semifinals
By Mal Boright