By Matt Rushford
Special to the Observer
July 11, 2013
The Williston 11- and 12-year-old baseball all-stars completed their last three games of pool play in the District I tournament over the past week. The team finished 3-1, securing the second seed in the double elimination tournament, which began Tuesday.
Williston beat Middlebury 15-1 in the first game of the double elimination Division I championship tournament Tuesday evening at Shiffilitti Park. It played Shelburne Wednesday, after the Observer’s press deadline.
Williston started the Division I tournament on a high note, defeating Burlington American 18-1 at Shiffilitti Field July 1. Led by the strong pitching of Griffin McDermott, Jake Murphy and Ian Parent, Williston improved to 2-0 in the four-inning romp.
On July 5, Williston faced defending state champions South Burlington in a potential Division I showdown preview. Eleven-year-old ace Storm Rushford took the mound for Williston with the daunting task of managing the oversized South Burlington crew, several of whom dwarf their own coaches. But with the help of a skilled defense behind him, including key catches from outfielders Gelin and Logan Cody and second baseman Aidan Johnson, Rushford held South Burlington to only one run off three hits through four innings.
Offensively, Williston came out strong with leadoff hitter Baker Angstman drawing the first of his three consecutive walks and Parent and Murphy each slapping base hits to give the boys in blue the one-run lead they would keep until the end of the fifth inning. Overall, the Williston batters made 6’1” South Burlington hurler Ben Tate earn every out as they worked the pitch count up quick and finally chased him off the mound in the fourth inning, having thrown his maximum allowable pitches.
South Burlington’s early hope in the second came when its seventh hitter slapped a grounder to short with a base runner at second. But Williston turned a nifty 6-3-5 double play that ended the inning with third baseman Griffin McDermott tagging out Tate at third base.
The 2-1 Williston lead lasted until late in the fifth inning, when South Burlington, down to its last strike, drew a walk and hit the first of their two home runs, reversing the one-run advantage to their own. They duplicated the walk/homer feat in the sixth to increase their lead to 5-2, which turned out to be the final score.
Williston’s final game was the next morning against Burlington at a soggy Shiffilitti field. Twelve straight days of rain prompted announcers to warn that no water skiing would be permitted in the outfield that morning. Pitchers Parent and Tyler Skaffelstad held their opponents hitless until the bottom of the fourth, when a blooper single snuck through for the only Burlington baserunner of the game. On the offensive side, Murphy and Griffin McDermott each hit one over the fence as Williston went on a four-inning scoring spree that included hits from Benjamin Herskowitz, Jacob Boliba, Bennett Cheer, and Angstman. Final score: Williston 15, Burlington 0.
“I am really happy with the way our boys have been hitting and fielding. They’ve been rock solid,” Manager Tom Parent said. “This is a great team that has really bonded on and off the field, and it shows in the way they play the game. They play hard and play well, but still have a ton of fun doing it.”