By Mal Boright
It may not be the top seed, but second seed is not bad either.
Coach Tim Albertson’s Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks were poised to open defense of their two-in-a-row Division 1 baseball crowns Wednesday at home against Mount Mansfield Union High in an opening round contest.
Given the second seed after some late misadventures Saturday in a difficult 4-3 home loss to Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, (14-2), the Redhawks (13-3) thus got the second seed and the 15th-seeded 5-11 Cougars as their first round foe.
A victory Wednesday (Observer press time) would mean a Friday home quarterfinal test against the winner of Tuesday’s 8-8 North Country (10th seed) at 10-6 Brattleboro Union High (seventh seed).
Saturday’s collision of Division 1 elites was a masterpiece until a pair of walks and two critical throwing errors led to three BFA unearned runs and a come-from-behind 4-3 victory for the Bobwhites.
CVU hurler Rayne Supple, with his fastball cracking catcher Hayden Smith’s big mitt and raising smoke, was credited with a no-hit gem that included 11 strike outs. The only batted ball even close to a hit was a weak dribbler past the mound between first and second that gloves reached but could not secure.
A chap with Wake Forest on the front his shirt and a jugs gun timed Supple’s heaters at 87 and 89 miles per hour in the first inning.
From the first to the start of the fifth inning, the CVU right hander retired 11 straight Bobwhites, striking out seven, getting several with a well-placed zappers low and on the outside corner.
Late in the game, Supple lost some of his command. In the sixth, with the Redhawks in front 3-0, he allowed a leadoff walk which eventually scored as a result of two infield miscues despite three whiffed batters.
In the top of the seventh, two leadoff walks followed by an out and then two throwing boo-boos on a bunt attempt pushed three runs over the platter for the final score.
The Redhawks had trouble getting runners home, leaving nine stranded after putting up 10 hits. For instance, leadoff batter Deagan Poland did what leadoff guys are supposed to do, three hits and a walk. But he did not score a run.
Smith, batting third, smacked a double and two singles and did tap home place twice.
BFA pitcher Mark Connor, a lefty showing more curves than a road race course, was especially hot with runners on. In the fifth, CVU loaded the bases with no outs and got just one run out of it with Shea Ireland’s sacrifice fly to center.
In the very next inning, the Redhawks had runners at first and third with no outs when a ground out slowly evolved into a triple play.