Last week we traced a whole bunch of Rutland County high schools teams progress through the playoffs in baseball, softball and lacrosse. All of them on a quest for a state title, and some teams were still alive headed into the semifinals round this past week. This sports column this week is focused on these teams, and how they ultimately fared in their quest for a state championship.
Bulldogs Take Big Bite Out Of Minutemen
The division-II baseball semifinal game played on Tuesday, June 8th in North Clarendon, should have been a good one. After all it featured the third seeded Burr and Burton Bulldogs squaring off against the second seeded Mill River Minutemen. But that's the thing with baseball, you just never know what will happen. This game, despite their close seeds, belonged entirely to the visiting Bulldogs.
Burr and Burton collected 18 runs on 15 hits to rout the slightly favored Minutemen 18-1. Alex Richardson led the Bulldogs offensive onslaught with four hits, including a homerun. Mike Marino also homered for the Bulldogs, who went onto the state championship with a 12-7 record.
Burr and Burton pitcher Jake Oliver took care of the defensive side of the equation. Oliver fired a one-hitter at Mill River to pick up the complete game win. Josh Bankert collected the Minutemen's lone hit, a single in the fifth inning. Mill River falls short of their grab for a d-II state championship, and end the year at 13-7.
Blue Devils Blow 7 Run Lead, Championship
In softball Rutland County had teams make the final four in division-I, division-II and division-IV but none managed to reach the promised land.
Of the three teams that remained alive the Poultney Blue Devils, in division-IV, came the closest to winning a state championship. In the semifinals, played on Tuesday, June 8th in South Royalton, Emma Lamberton tossed a two-hitter and knocked in the winning run in the top of the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly, to lead the sixth seeded Blue Devils past the second seeded Royals 4-3. It as Poultney's second straight upset and earned them a spot in last Friday's division-IV State Championship.
Things looked bright for the Blue Devils in that championship game. Poultney exploded for 7 runs on 5 hits in their first trip to the plate to take a commanding 7-0 lead. But Blue Mountain hurler, left-handed pitcher Natalie Page, would allow Poultney just one more run, allowing the Bucks to come storming back and claim a 9-8 win, and the Division-IV State Championship.
Trailing 7-0 Blue Mountain picked up one run in the second, two in the third and five in a five-hit fourth, to take an 8-7 lead. Poultney would tie the game at 8-8 in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Nicole Bogucki. Then with two down and a runner on third in Blue Mountain's sixth inning Nicole Larocque hit what can only be described as a full swing bunt that hugged the third base line. While Larocque beat it out for an infield hit, Aimee Thompson raced home from third with the winning run for the Bucks.
Emily Russo led the Bucks offensively with a pair of hits and four RBIs, including a huge two-run double in Blue Mountains 5 run fifth. Page and Fantasia Darling also collected two hits for Blue Mountain. Page allowed just one more hit after the five she gave up in the first to claim the important win.
Rachel Horn, Bogucki had two hits and drove in three runs to set the pace for Poultney. Her teammate Kelsi Brown also had two hits while Emma Lamberton took the loss for the Blue Devils, who finish the year at 12-8. .
Meanwhile in division-II the Otter Valley Otters hopes of back-to-back state championships ended at home on Tuesday, June 8th in a home semifinal loss. Coming fresh off a quarterfinal upset of the third seeded Middlebury Tigers, the sixth seeded Lamoille Lancers were looking for another one over the second seeded Otters. And they got it by pulling off a 3-2 win and earning a trip to the division-II state championship game.
Winning pitcher Kylie Pratt did it all for Lamoille in this one. She led the way offensively, going two-for-three and she scored all three of the Lancers runs. On the mound Pratt went the distance striking out 13 and walking just two to earn the complete game victory. Kalee Still had two huge RBIs for the championship bound Lancers.
Michaela Harrington went 2-for-4 with a double to pace the Otters offense and Kaylee Pinson took the loss on the hill for Otter Valley, who finish their season at 11-6.
On the same afternoon in Essex their would be no upset. The three time defending division-I state champions the Essex Hornets were led by sophomore pitcher Alexis Perry, as they shutout the visiting Rutland Raiders 2-0 to earn their sixth straight appearance in the championship game. Perry tossed a two-hit shutout, with ten strikeouts at the visiting Raiders.
The games only runs came on one play in the fourth. With Bethany Falls on first and Hannah Puisto on second, junior first baseman Laura Neal. singled up the middle. Rutland centerfielder Kristyn Masse overran the ball, allowing both Pusto and Falls to score for the Hornets.
Catcher Emily Louras collected both of the Raiders hits. Essex entered the state title game at 18-1, while the Raiders finished their season at 13-6.
Raiders Boys and Girls Fall in Lax Semifinals
Both the boys and girls Rutland Raiders lacrosse teams made it to the division-I semifinals, but neither could manage to get past them.
The girls held a 9-7 advantage over the top seeded Mount Anthony Patriots with 12:30 remaining in the game, but couldn't hold on to the lead. The Patriots had come all the way back and took a 10-9 lead with just over five minutes left, and then they successfully played keep away over the final five minutes to hang on for the one goal win.
Senior attack Melissa Schramm paced the Patriots with three goals. Captain Alyssa Porter added two more, while Courtney Saheim, Kristen Cara, Alyssa Amos and Paige Levesque chipped in with single goals to complete their scoring. MAU held a wide 39-19 edge in shots, needed just four saves from Kayla Morse to secure the win.
Marisa Kiefaber paced the Raiders attack with four goals, while Kate Kurchena added a goal and three assists to the near victory. Melissa Gfeller, Sara Lovett, Ali Dorion and Alexandra Abrahamson added single goals to complete the scoring for the Raiders, who wind up their season at 13-4-1.
The boys didn't come quite so close, though they did fall on the road to the top seeded team, just like the gals. In Hinesburg on Tuesday, June 8, Taylor Gingras scored four goals, and assisted on three others to lead his Champlain Valley Union Redhawks to a 13-1 rout over the visiting Rutland Raiders in division-I semifinal action.
Gingras had plenty of help though, notably from Nathaniel Wells (three goals), Lawrence Dee (two goals, assist), Nick Hart (goal, two assists), Jake Marston (two goals) and Robbie Dobrowski (goal, assist) In the net CVU goalie Eric Palmer made 13 saves to secure the win.
David Kraus scored the lone goal for the fourth seeded Raiders, while goalie David Morgan had eight aves in the Raiders final game of the year.