On a beautiful day for baseball, the Middlebury Woodchucks and the Williston Armadillos squared off Sept. 23 at Montpelier Rec Field for a rematch of last season’s Vermont Senior Baseball League championship game.
The game paired the league’s top two seeds for the first time since 2008, and it lived up to the billing. The well-played, back-and-forth game culminated with Williston prevailing in a walk-off victory.
Middlebury took the early lead, plating two runs on four straight singles in the second inning. Williston starter and ace Ken Freeman quickly settled down, however, getting the last two batters of the inning to start a streak of 16 straight batters retired.
Meanwhile, the Armadillos got runners on base every inning, but were unable to score, stranding eight runners on base over the first five innings. In the sixth inning, they finally broke through. With one runner on and two outs, Jason LeFebvre hit a towering home run to left-center field to tie the game at two.
The Armadillos struck again in the bottom of the eighth, mounting a two-out rally and pushing a run across on Dann Van Der Vliet’s infield single to take their first lead of the game, 3-2.
In the top of the ninth, Middlebury scored twice to make it 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Armadillos quickly struck back. Dan Peck led off the inning with a double to right-center, and Mat Robinson drove the first pitch he saw into right field to plate the tying run, sending the game to extra innings.
Reid Crosby relieved Ken Freeman in the 10th and after retiring the Woodchucks 1-2-3 in the top of the inning, he led off the bottom of the 10th with a double. One batter later, Todd Johnson ripped a base hit just inside the line over third base, and Crosby raced home with the winning run.
With the victory, the Armadillos claimed their fourth league title, having previously won in 2007, 2012 and 2013. They also became the first regular season champion to win the playoff title since 2009 and, at 17-0, the first undefeated league champion since 2008.
— Contributed by Reid Crosby