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Legion nine rallies to salvage one vs. Franklin

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Posted on July 11, 2019 |
By Andy Kirkaldy



legion baseball 0X0A6186.jpg
A FRANKLIN COUNTY runner beats the tag of AC pitcher Nolan Whitcomb to score in the second game of a double-header on Sunday on Middlebury. Franklin scored six times in the inning, but AC rallied to win. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County American Legion baseball team rallied to salvage the last of three weekend games vs. Franklin County, but then dropped a road contest at S.D. Ireland on Tuesday. With that, AC’s record fell to 5-11 in Northern Division play as the local nine nears the summer homestretch.

Franklin topped AC this past Friday, 6-2, and on Sunday at Middlebury College Franklin and Addison split a doubleheader, with Franklin taking the opener, 8-2, and AC fighting back to claim the nightcap, 7-6. The weekend results left Franklin with a 7-4 Northern Division record, good for a second-place tie with South Burlington behind Colchester (13-1).

On Tuesday SDI prevailed, 2-1. Details on that game were unavailable. SDI improved to 7-5 and moved into fourth place in the Northern Division.

Records and standings were as of Wednesday morning.

ADDISON COUNTY’S TUCKER Stearns is safe at second in the first inning of the home team’s 7-6 win over Franklin in the second game of a doubleheader in Middlebury on Sunday.

Independent photo/Steve James

AC will look to get on a late-season roll this weekend, when the team is scheduled to host Barre (2-12) at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and then entertain Essex for a pair of games on Saturday starting at 11 a.m.

Coach Cam Curler hoped AC could win the weekend series with Franklin, a necessary result if the local team had designs on one of the four Northern Division playoff spots. But he was happy to see the team rebound late on Sunday to salvage the finale.

“We knew we had to win two out of three. So it’s disappointing to win one out of three,” Curler said. “At least we bounced back in the last game, and hopefully we can start to get some momentum.”

GAMES VS. FRANKLIN

AC threatened to break open Sunday’s nightcap early off FC starter Taylor Yates. Tucker Stearns singled, stole second and trotted home on a Wyatt Cameron double. Cameron scored on Payson Williams’ RBI grounder, with Williams reaching second on a throwing error. Dustin Whitcomb then singled in Williams.

PAYSON WILLIAMS SCORES for AC as the Franklin catcher can’t handle the throw in the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader. AC rallied to win for a split of the twin bill.

Independent photo/Steve James

AC made it 4-0 in the fourth even though Cameron was nailed trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple by FC second baseman Karson Fortin’s perfect relay throw. Williams walked, Whitcomb singled again, and Williams scored when FC misplayed a ball hit by Hale Hescock.

Meanwhile AC starter Ryan Whitcomb tossed three scoreless innings, stranding five runners after allowing two hits and two walks while fanning one. He ran into a little trouble to open the fourth, allowing a single and a walk while retiring one batter. With his starter’s pitch count mounting, Curler called Ryan’s older brother Nolan Whitcomb to the mound.

It wasn’t Nolan Whitcomb’s best day. Mike Roy and Jackson Porter greeted with him with singles, and after Whitcomb walked the next batter Colby Brouillette cleared the bases with a triple to make it 5-4. Whitcomb fanned Kristian Viljanen for the second out, but Liscinsky doubled in Brouillette, and Curler re-emerged from the dugout and waved Jarret Muzzy to the mound.

Muzzy got the next batter to fly out to center field to end the threat. Muzzy tossed three more scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks while fanning one. He earned the win when AC rallied.

AC BASERUNNER COOPER O’Brien dives to reach third ahead of the throw in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Franklin on Sunday. AC rallied to win the game and earn a split.

Independent photo/Steve James

AC got one run back in the bottom of the fourth, Yates’ final inning. Tucker Stearns, who reached base four times on two singles and two walks, scored three runs and stole two bases, singled with one out and moved up to second on a balk. From there he scored easily on a Cooper O’Brien double to make it 6-5.

Viljanen tossed a 1-2-3 fifth inning for FC, but AC rallied with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth. Viljanen walked Devon Kearns and Stearns, and O’Brien lined a single to plate courtesy runner Adam Mansfield and tie the game. Cameron then lined a Viljanen offering into centerfield to score Stearns, and AC had regained the lead at 7-6.

Muzzy walked a batter and wild-pitched him to second with one out in the top of the seventh, but struck out one batter and retired Fortin on a fly out to Stearns in center to nail down a much-needed victory for AC.

“We’ve fallen victim to the big inning many times this year, and it was great to see the big fourth inning not get the best of us,” Curler said. “We got off to a good lead early, and gave it up just like that, but kept chipping away. It was a big run in the fourth, and a big two-out rally in the sixth.”

ADDISON COUNTY FIRST baseman Cooper O’Brien stretches for the throw to make an out in the home team’s win over Franklin in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader in Middlebury.

Independent photo/Steve James

Curler was also happy to see Cameron come up with what proved to be the game-winning hit.

“He’s a competitor, and he’s not afraid of anything. You feel good when he’s on the mound, and you feel good when the ball’s hit his way, and you feel good when he’s at the plate,” Curler said. “So it was nice to see him get a couple hits in crucial situations.”

In Sunday’s first game FC bunched its hits off Cameron, who has proven to be the team’s ace, to score three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth on the way to the 8-2 victory.

In all Cameron allowed 11 hits, 10 in those two innings; hit two batters; walked none and struck out six. Franklin had an 8-0 lead before AC scored on RBI groundouts by Williams and Dustin Whitcomb in the fifth and seventh innings, respectively.

AC STARTING PITCHER Ryan Whitcomb threw 3.1 innings, allowing two runs, during the second game of a double-header against visiting Franklin on Sunday in Middlebury.

Independent photo/Steve James

FC took a 1-0 lead in the third on a hit batter, stolen base and two errors. In the third FC scored three runs on four straight two-out singles by Kyle Gilbert, Fortin, Roy and Porter. Williams threw out a runner at home from right field to limit the damage.

In the fourth FC put the game away with doubles by Johnny Paquette and Viljanen and singles by Brouillette, Liscinsky and Fortin.

On Friday at Franklin County in St. Albans Dustin Whitcomb started and went 2.2 innings, taking the loss. Liscinsky singled home two runs in the first, and in the third Viljanen doubled and Liscinsky and Yates singled.

FC added two more runs in the fourth off Muzzy on singles by Porter and Brouillette, and RBI grounder and an error. Muzzy tossed a scoreless fifth, and Mansfield threw a scoreless sixth. Williams and Kearns singled home runs for AC in the first and second innings, respectively.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]

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