October 25, 2014

When sun shines, so do baseball nine

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By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Though their Division 1 home semi-final contest with 10-8 St. Johnsbury Academy was postponed until Wednesday (after the Observer’s press deadline) thanks to the big carwash in the sky, the Champlain Valley Union High baseball team was hoping for some blue—say, like on Sunday.

That was the sunny day the third-seeded Redhawks and right-hander Davis Mikell blanked 10-7 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, sixth seed, 1-0 in a tense quarterfinal contest before a large crowd at the CVU ball yard.

But as of Wednesday morning, weather forecasts for the afternoon had predictions of more showers, leaving many wondering if the game would be played prior to Friday’s graduation ceremonies. St. Johnsbury earned its way to the semifinals with a 5-4 upset of second-seeded South Burlington on Sunday. The Hilltoppers, on the road, overcame a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the top of the seventh and final inning.

The other semifinal contest has fourth-seeded 14-4 Colchester High at top-seeded 15-2 Essex High.

The Redhawks played the Hilltoppers in late April in St. Johnsbury and came away with a 1-0 victory.

Mikell was immense in shutting down the Bobwhites, who had clipped CVU 3-0 in St. Albans late last month. The zip-balling senior limited BFA to two hits and fanned nine while walking just one and hitting a batter.

In the first two innings it was serious smoke coming from Mikell as he whiffed six, allowing but a second inning single by Bobwhites catcher Jordan Stone.

A spot of trouble came in the third when Mikell walked leadoff batter Brandon Streeter and, after a sacrifice bunt, plopped Nick Berno with a slow curve that didn’t. No problem, as a strikeout and bouncer to the mound restored Mikell’s rule.

After that, the CVU hurler started going to the breaking stuff and change, with the result of seven straight ground outs through the fourth to the sixth innings.

“They were looking for the fast ball so I started going with something else,” Mikell said.

BFA’s second hit came with two out in the sixth, a double to center by Dylan Callan.

The game’s lone run was produced in the bottom of the third. With one out, CVU’s Deagan Poland singled to right but was erased at second with Hayden Smith reaching on a fielder’s choice. In a key play, Smith stole second base and moments later hustled home on Will Potter’s single to center.

BFA lefty Ryan Connor had no further trouble, emerging with a five-hitter while striking out two and walking none. There were no miscues by either side in the well-played diamond drama.

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