The Vermont Lake Monsters, Vermont's only professional baseball team, has begun their 2009 season. The Lake Monsters are an affiliate of the Washington Nationals and play in the low A level, short season New York - Penn League's Stedler Division. As of tlast week, the team was 8-8, and tied for second in the four team division with the Lowell Spinners, a Boston Red Sox affiliate. Both the Lake Monsters and Spinners trailed the division leading Oneonta Tigers by two games.
Last weekend Vermont played the Hudson Valley Renegades Like the season so far, the Lake Monsters split the four games.
Thanks to rain out on Thursday the two teams began the four game series with a doubleheader on Friday. Renegade hurlers Alexander Colome, Bladimir Florentino and Zachary Quate combined to throw a one hitter at Vermont to lead Hudson Valley to a 2-1 win the opening game. Colome started giving up one run and Vermont;s only hit in four and two thirds innings of work. Florentino followed with one and two third innings of hitless ball before Quate came on to finish things off with a pair of strikeouts. It was Florentino's first win of the year.
Trevor Holder, the Washington Nationals third-round selection in the 2009 draft, made his professional debut in the opening game of the doubleheader. The right-hander tossed three scoreless innings, striking out one and allowing just three hits. Holder, who managed to get inning-ending double plays in the first two innings and a inning-ending caught stealing in the third, faced just the minimum nine batters over his three innings of work.
Juan Jaime took over for Holder in the fourth inning and with a runner on first and two outs he lost the strike zone. After walking Eligio Sonoqui and hitting Brett Nommensen to load the bases, Jaime then walked Mark Thomas and Bennett Davis back-to-back to force home the Renegades two runs.
Vermont got its only run of the opener in the fifth when Justin Bloxom walked, was singled to second by Jack Walker, advanced to third on a walk to Francisco Soriano and then scored on a J.J. Sferra groundout.
The Renegades had a chance for insurance runs in the sixth off reliever Shane Erb as they loaded the bases with no outs, but Erb got a forceout at home and a strikeout before Clayton Dill came on to record a strikeout to end the threat without a run scoring.
Vermont had one more opportunity in the seventh, but couldn't cash in. Walker started the seventh inning with a walk and moved to third on a wild pitch and groundout, but Zachary Quate struckout Soriano and Sferra with the tying run on third to end the game for his second save of the season.
J.P. Ramirez's RBI double snapped a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning of the nightcap to lead the Vermont Lake Monsters to a 4-2 win at Dutchess Stadium.
The Lake Monsters took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on a two-run homer from Ricky Nolan, playing in just his second game of the season for Vermont. The Renegades quickly tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with a pair of runs, including an RBI double from Elias Otero.
Sean Nicol reached on a two-base fielding error to lead off the fifth. Ramirez then drove him home when he smacked a double off Renegades reliever Devin Fuller (0-1) for a 3-2 Lake Monsters lead. Vermont added an insurance run in the sixth on a Nicol RBI single that scored Justin Bloxom, who had led off the inning with one of Lake Monsters six walks in the game.
Starter Graham Hicks (1-1) picked up his first professional win as he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits over five innings for the win, while Johan Figuereo tossed a scoreless ninth for his first save. Hudson Valley starter Glenn Gibson, a member of the 2007 Vermont Lake Monsters, allowed two runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts in four innings for a no-decision.
The two teams then came back to Vermont to play their final pair. Jack McGeary and two relievers combined on a one-hit shutout to lead Vermont to an 8-0 win Saturday at historic Centennial Field. The Lake Monsters scored four runs in the third inning and three more runs in the fifth and their pitching took care of the rest.
McGeary (1-0) allowed just a one-out single in the fifth over his six innings of work. The left-hander, who had entered the game with eight walks in 10 1/3 innings over his first two starts, walked just two on Saturday and struckout four. The Hudson Valley single from Gabe Cohen in the fifth would be the Renegades last base runner of the game as McGeary along with relievers Pat Lehman (two innings) and Evan Bronson (one inning) would retire the final 14 Hudson Valley batters in order.
Vermont would get all the runs they would need in the third inning with four unearned runs. After the Lake Monsters loaded the bases with two outs, J.R. Higley hit a sinking line drive to short that Diogenes Luis was unable to handle for a run-scoring error. Dan Killian followed with an RBI infield single to third base that scored Francisco Soriano, while Nicol and Higley scored when third baseman Burt Reynolds throw went down the rightfield line.
The Lake Monsters added three more runs in the fifth. Dan Killian smacked an RBI double and a Justin Bloxom added a RBI single, for a 7-0 lead. Bloxom added another RBI single in the sixth inning to close out the scoring.