VERGENNES — As the old adage goes, history repeats itself. And on Tuesday in the first round of the Division II baseball tournament, history did just that at Vergennes Union High School.
For the second time this season and for the second straight postseason, VUHS (11-6) outlasted Mount Abraham (6-11) in a highly anticipated match-up, 5-0, behind another stellar pitching performance from Devin Hayes, who quieted the Eagle bats earlier this spring in a 4-0 victory.
Hayes dominated again, striking out six of the first nine batters of the game and nine in all. He took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and finished with a one-hitter to lead the defending D-II state champions into the quarterfinals.
“He threw strikes all day long,” said VUHS head coach George Ringer. “He had a great game and that made me feel better through the whole thing. We kind of rode him for a little while.”
Hayes also clubbed a double and a triple while scoring one run and driving in another.
The No. 4 Commodores wasted no time in putting pressure on the No. 12 Eagles and starter Sawyer Kamman, as Tommy Lee Hodsden led off the first by smacking a double into center field. With one out, Charlie Stapleford singled home Hodsden. VUHS added another run in the frame when Hayes laced a two-out triple to center, scoring Stapleford.
Meanwhile, through the first three innings, Hayes allowed only three runners to reach base. But Kamman buckled down and kept his team in the game, working his way in and out of trouble while maneuvering through the VUHS line-up.
In the bottom of the second, VUHS appeared to be picking up where they left off as Dylan Raymond doubled. After a passed ball moved him to third with one out, Kamman induced a pop-up on a suicide squeeze attempt. Snaring the ball just in front of the pitcher’s mound, Kamman wheeled and fired to third to end the Commodore threat.
In the fourth, VUHS mounted another threat. Hayes led off by blasting a double to left and reached third on a Nick Richer bunt. Kamman worked out of the jam again by picking up his fifth and final strikeout and inducing a fly ball.
VUHS got to the Kamman in the fifth when Hodsden led off with a triple to left and came around to score on a fielder’s choice from Stapleford.
With a 3-0 cushion entering the sixth inning, Hayes still had not surrendered a hit. The no-hit bid ended with two out when Kamman slapped a ground ball through into left field.
Hayes said his teammates in the field gave him confidence.
“Luckily the defense was behind me again today,” Hayes said. “(I) had a couple rough innings in the beginning, but we just had to focus and get down to it.”
VUHS plated two insurance runs in the sixth before Hayes put away the Eagles in order to finish off the shutout.
Mount Abe coach Jeff Stetson had hoped for a better performance, but said Hayes again had the answers.
“We thought we were ready to play. Devin pitched a tremendous game, we didn’t put the ball in play well at all,” Stetson said. “Defensively we just didn’t make plays today, almost a carbon copy of when we were here a couple weeks ago.”
The Commodores are encouraged because they believe they are showing serious signs of life at the plate.
“Last year we were a pitching team that couldn’t really hit,” said Hayes. “This year we can actually put some runs on the board, (there’s) less stress on the pitchers. Knowing we can put a couple runs on the board is a good thing to have in our back pocket.”
The win, the team’s fifth straight, sends VUHS into a home quarterfinal set for Saturday against No. 5 Missisquoi (11-6), as history repeats itself again: The game is a rematch of the 2012 final.
“(This) gets us to game two,” Ringer said. “I think it’s all a positive. We’ve been playing pretty good since we got all our guys back … I’m good with what we did today, everyone seemed to be in the game, there was a lot of life coming out of the dugout and as long as we play with energy, I think we are going to be pretty good. We will see.”
Marshall Hastings is an intern with the Independent this summer.