By Mal Boright
Champlain Valley Union High’s veteran right-hander, Curt Echo, hurled his team into this weekend’s Division 1 championship game with a 3-0, four-hit shutout on Tuesday of sixth-seeded 14-4 Colchester High.
One more game remains for CVU, and it will be this weekend at the University of Vermont’s Centennial Field against either Rice Memorial High or Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans. Playing in St. Albans on Tuesday, the two were tied 1-1 when the game was suspended by weather in the fourth inning, to be resumed on Wednesday after the Observer’s press deadline.
The date and time of the championship will be announced by the Vermont Principals’ Association.
“Curt threw a great game,” said CVU baseball coach Tim Albertson, who is leading the 17-2 Redhawks to their first Division 1 title appearance since 2007.
In chilling the Colchester bats, Echo used 83 pitches, walking just one while striking out three. Two of the hits off him were of the scratch variety. The complete game gave him a 2-0 record in 13 and one-third innings of quarterfinal and semifinal tests, in which he surrendered but nine hits and nary an earned run.
Last Friday, he cruised past South Burlington 7-1 in a home field quarterfinal against South Burlington High, with Davis Mikell closing for the final two outs.
Allowing that his pitches were hitting his spots, Echo also credited the Redhawks’ defense, which he called “fantastic.”
That defense produced, after a meaningless first inning boo-boo, two double plays, eight ground outs, seven fly outs and a pick-off, all smartly done without miscue.
His Colchester pitching foe, Zach Tandy, had blanked the Redhawks 7-0 on two hits just two weeks previously in Laker country. But this was to be a different day, made apparent when ‘Hawks right fielder Lawrence Halvorson uncorked a home run over the fence in dead center field on Tandy’s first pitch in the bottom of the second frame.
“That set the tone for the day,” said Echo, with Albertson in total agreement.
Halvorson said he was at the plate to swing and got a pitch in his wheelhouse for his first round tripper of the season.
CVU added two unearned runs in the bottom of the third. Tim Jones and Drew Nick led off with singles to put runners at first and second. It was Nick’s second bingle in two trips.
That brought up clean up hitter “The Big Deep” Mikell. But instead of swinging for the far reaches, the strapping blaster laid a bunt toward third base that caught the Lakers by surprise. An overthrow of first went down the right field line as Jones and Nick came around to score and Mikell wound up at second.
“That was huge,” Echo said. “It gave me some breathing room.”
“We practice that play every day, and Davis bunts well,” added the coach.
Tandy then returned to his unhittable form by retiring in a row CVU’s last 12 batters. He finished with a six-hitter and fanned six. He also stroked two of Colchester’s four singles.
In the win over South Burlington, Mikell slugged a two-run double and single, Ryan Fleming belted an RBI triple, while Nick and Tucker Kohlasch each bashed a pair of safeties to pace an eight-hit attack.