By David F. P.
Following a rain out on Friday, the Hartford Hawks and Vermont Catamounts were set to play two on a sunny, though slightly windy day at the Hartford Baseball Field. At stake was a trip to the America East Championship. Each team needed to win 2 of the 3 scheduled games on the weekend to earn a trip.
The first inning started out well starting pitcher Mark Toomey and the Hawks when UVM didn’t put up any hits or runs. In the bottom half, Vermont starter, Eric Thompson took to the mound, Brady Stouffer lead off with a single to center, and Ben Sobocinski sacrificed bunted him to second. Unfortunately Thompson got up 1-2 on Adam Bowser and then picked off Stouffer at second. Bowser smashed a ball off the shortshop’s glove, for an error I believe and got on base though. He would later steal second, but Thompson struck out Andy Drexel to end the inning.
Toomey had a 1-2-3 top of the 2nd getting Ethan Paquette, Matt Duffy, and Miguel Magrass to pop or ground out. In the bottom half, Bill Perry walked, and Mike Amendola smashed a single to center. With runners on first and second, Matt Walker worked the count to 3-2 before whacking a ball to left center field, scoring Perry. Adam Grap bunted but the third baseman made the play to third to get the lead runner. Simon Kudernatsch popped out, but Stouffer hit to the shortstop, who mishandled it. All runners were safe. Ben Sobocinski then hit a single between third and short, scoring Walker. A conference at the mound ensued, but Thompson followed that by getting Adam Bowser to ground out to end the inning.
UVM’s Kyle Henry began the inning hitting a single to left field, and Jeff Nolet walked. This opened the door for Brad Currier to lay down a sacrifice bunt and advance the runners. Toomey got Mark Micowski to ground to him and he was able to check the runner and third and get the force at first. Kyle Massie stepped in and after getting to a 2-2 count, Toomey got him swinging for the strikeout. Andy Drexel lead off the bottom of the third with a check swing grounded to 2B for out number 1. Bill Perry smashed a grounder leading the second baseman to dive and come up with the play to first. Mike Amendola knocked a single to get on base, but Matt Walker hit it to short to who flipped it to second for the last out of the inning.
Justin Milo was walked by Toomey to start the fourth off, and Paquette advanced him with a sacrifice bunt. Duffy then hit a single to left, but Drexel’s throw from left kept Milo from getting past third and making a run for home. Following a conference a the mound, Miguel Magrass hit a grounder to short after that, that was played to first but scored Milo. Kyle Henry whacked a ball to short which the shortstop misplayed, to allow Duffy to score on the impromptu single. Nolet came to bat and grounded to second to close the inning with the score now tied 2-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, Adam Grap stepped in and popped a ball up in the infield. Vermont’s first baseman called for it and then lost it, the ball dropped and Grap was safe at first. Kudernatsch then bunted it, but the third baseman read the play and got Grap out at second, though Kudernatsch made it to first. Stouffer grounded to short and Kudernatsch was out at second, but he beat the throw to first. With Sobocinski in the batters box, Stouffer defied Thompson’s pick off attempts and stole second. He then proceeded to walk Sobocinski to put two on with two outs. Thompson got up 0-2 on Bowser, and then let a wild pitch fly advancing each runner one base. Bowser grounded to short soon afterward however to end the inning.
After getting Currier to ground out at the top of the fifth, Toomey gave up a ground rule double to Micowski who knocked it to the left field corner. Massie came up with a sac fly to move Micowski to third. Milo then hit a ball off the second baseman’s glove to score Micowski and give UVM the lead. A conference at the mount followed and Coach Calcaterra decided to make a change, bringing in Bob Rogers from the bullpen. Rogers walked Paquette, but Duffy grounded to second to end the inning with the damage now done.
Thompson struck Drexel out swinging in the bottom of the inning, but walked Perry. Amendola then knocked a shot to the center-right gap and advanced Drexel to third, reaching first on the single. Walker unfortunately grounded into a double play to end the inning though.
Magrass opened the 6th for Vermont with a double to the left-center gap, Henry hit a grounder to first, and the runner was unable to advance to third. Nolet than flew out to right field. After Currier hit a bolt to the center of the infield, Sobocinski came up with a diving play behind bag to save the single, and his throw to first was in time to get the team out of a jam.
Thompson walked Grap to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Rodger Wilmot was sent into run for him. Kudernatsch popped a bunt just in front of the pitcher and was thrown out at first, but Wilmot advanced to second. Stouffer then hit a popper behind second base, but the second baseman couldn’t get to it in time. Sobocinski then hit a dangerous ball into the infield, Stouffer was thrown out at second but Sobocinski reached 1st safely, and Wilmot was on third. The rally was killed though when Thompson struck out Bowser swinging to end the inning.
The top of the seventh began with Rogers striking out Micowski swinging, Massie and Milo then each grounded out to make it a 1-2-3 inning. The last chance for the Hawks would come in the bottom of the seventh. With action in the Vermont pen, Drexel stepped and was walked on four straight pitches. After an extremely long conference at the mount, Thompson was taken out, and Tom Kelly was put in for the Catamounts. Perry hit a single to short left field to put two runners on with no outs. Mike Amendola came to the plate and got the count to 2-2, before smashing a hit to right field over the outfielders head. Drexel went racing for home, but the right fielder gunned it to the plate, and Drexel slid but was tagged out by Nolet, the Vermont catcher had realized that Perry was right behind Drexel, and he tagged him out for the double play in a heartbreaking shocking and yet amazing play. Walker was intentionally walked to put him and Amendola on with 2 outs, and Drew Sgro pinch hit, but Kelly got him swinging for the strike out and the win.
Winning Pitcher: Eric Thompson
Losing Pitcher: Marc Toomey
Save: Tom Kelly