Redhawks blank St. J on the diamond (5/21/09)

Baseball team heads to Essex on Thursday

May 21, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Returning to winning ways Tuesday with an 8-0 home bopping of St. Johnsbury Academy, the young but surging Champlain Valley Union High baseball team will take on one of the Metro Division’s ruling class Thursday, when the Redhawks invade Essex High for a 4:30 p.m. test against the 9-2 (beginning of the week) Hornets.

Now 4-7, coach Tim Albertson’s Redhawks will then travel down Route 116 to Bristol and Mount Abraham for an 11 a.m. game on Saturday against the solid Eagles, who bumped off the Hawks 7-2 in the mid-April season-opener in Hinesburg.

The victory over 2-9 St. Johnsbury was especially tasty for the Hawks, who had suffered a galling 11-10 defeat at home Saturday to Milton High when the Blue Devils rallied from an 8-5 deficit with a six-run explosion in the top of the seventh.

But that became distant history Tuesday, when freshman Curt Echo and junior Andrew Leckerling combined for a six-hit shutout to go with an errorless defense.

“This was good today,” Albertson said, noting that the team will be in a good frame of mind for the Essex trip.

CVU has won four of its last five games after opening the season with six straight defeats.

Echo, in gaining his first varsity triumph, scattered five hits, walked four and whiffed six Hilltoppers over the first six innings.

“He threw 93 pitches and 65 were for strikes,” said Redhawks pitching coach Onnie Matthews. “That is very good.”

Leckerling took over in the seventh and shut down the visitors with just a single.

Echo’s only hint of serious trouble came in the top of the fourth when, with one out, Hilltoppers Shane Thorgalson and Mike Guidosh reached on backyard sale hits, a pair of real cheapies. One was a slow grounder under an infielder’s glove, the other a pop between the mound and third base.

With the game scoreless at the time, the two runners were sacrificed to second and third, but Echo then got a strikeout to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fourth, CVU struck for all of its runs, the door being opened when the first two batters, Joe Myers and David Titus, reached on infield miscues. Echo then reached on a well-positioned bunt single, which rolled to the shortstop, loading the bases.

Jared Badger lined a two-run single to center. After Andrew Nick was walked, Collin Teator ripped a shot to right center to drive in two more runs. The pings just kept coming as Leckerling, Konnor Fleming and Myers bashed consecutive RBI singles and Titus stroked an RBI grounder.

Heartbreaker vs. Milton High

The conditions Tuesday were windy, causing some adventures with infield pop-ups. But it was routine when compared with Saturday’s high winds, particularly at the start of the game.

Both starting pitchers, Teator and Milton’s Alex Duchesneau, ran into control problems, no doubt partially caused by trying to stay on the mound in gale force winds.

Teator left after two innings in which he allowed just two hits but walked five and allowed three tallies, only one of which was earned.

Down 3-0 going into the bottom of the second, CVU struck for four runs on Andrew Nick’s two-run double and Teator’s two-run single after Duchesneau had set the stage with three walks.

The Redhawks hiked the edge to 7-3 and 8-5 before Milton struck for the six-spot in the top of the seventh off Nick, who had pitched four innings of strong relief going into the frame, and Emily Sackett.

Down 11-8, CVU bounced back with two runs and had the bases loaded with one out before losing a runner at the plate for the second out. A ground out finished off the Redhawks.