VERGENNES — The Vergennes Union High School team found itself on both sides of error-fueled rallies late last week, when they stunned host Middlebury on Thursday with three runs in the sixth, 3-2, but lost a late one-run lead to visiting Mount Mansfield on Saturday in a 5-3 setback.
The split of those two games, plus a win at Burlington earlier last week, left VUHS at 5-8. That win total represents the program’s high-water mark in more than a decade.
Second-year coach Mike Sullivan had hoped for even better this spring. But given the team’s inexperience — the roster includes just three seniors, and one, shortstop Virginia Joyal, missed Saturday’s game — he acknowledged that even Saturday’s tough loss vs. the 9-5 Cougars represents progress.
“Even though we lost the game today, we showed ourselves we can play with a team that is 9-5 now. They’ve beaten a lot of good teams in the league and competed well, so we’re right there,” Sullivan said.
At the same time, he expects better than Saturday’s seven-error performance behind senior pitcher Devon Lane, who allowed one earned run on six hits and three walks while striking out three. Three of those unearned runs came in the top of the seventh with VUHS leading, 3-2.
“There were too many mistakes. It was pretty obvious out there,” Sullivan said. “It’s just a matter of our team learning how to finish.”
On Saturday, the Cougars scored twice in the first. Leadoff hitter Robyn Armstrong walked, stole second, moved to third on Audrey Phillips’ bunt single, and scored on Autumn Hallock’s sacrifice fly. Phillips scored on an infield error, but VUHS escaped further damage when shortstop Megan Paquin threw a runner out at home.
Lane allowed only two baserunners between the second and fifth innings, making several nice plays herself and getting help from center fielder Tabby Danyow, who made a fine running catch, and senior catcher Margy Kerschner, who caught a runner stealing. In the sixth, the Cougars loaded the bases with two outs on two errors and a hit that might have been playable, but Lane induced a harmless fly ball to end that threat.
VUHS tied the game in the third. Danyow led off with a bunt single against winning pitcher Emilie Moreau (eight Ks, one walk, four hits), raced to third on Paquin’s infield out, and scored on left fielder Sierra Lane’s grounder, with Lane reaching on the throw home. Lane moved to second on first baseman Jen Morley’s bunt, and Kerschner ripped a run-scoring single.
VUHS took the lead in the fourth. Third baseman Caitlyn Chaput walked, and right fielder Brittany Aunchman reached on catcher’s interference. They moved up on Danyow’s groundout, and Chaput scored on a passed ball.
VUHS could not hold the lead in the seventh. Armstrong led off and reached second on an infield error, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Lizzie Armstrong’s single. She reached third on a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt, and then the Commodores elected not to risk a throw on Emma Jobin-Picard’s bunt. Jobin-Picard stole second. With two out, both runners scored on an error, and it was 5-3. Moreau then set the Commodores down quietly in the seventh.
VUHS OVER MUHS
On Thursday, the Tigers made the key mistakes as VUHS rallied for a 3-2 win at MUHS (9-5), which outhit the Commodores, 11-2.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, when Shanyn Leduc and Brooke Connor (three hits) both singled and came around to score on a throwing error on a Tiger bunt.
Meanwhile, MUHS pitcher Lea Gipson, who tossed a complete-game two-hitter and struck out five, and the MUHS defense were perfect through five innings.
In the fifth, Danyow beat out a bunt and Joyal grounded a hit up the middle, and errors on balls put in play by Morley and Kerschner helped VUHS to score three times.
In the seventh, Danyow ran down a deep drive by Tiger leadoff hitter Mattea Bagley, and Devon Lane threw out the next hitter at first. Jess Gipson singled to keep the Tigers’ hopes alive, but Lane struck out the final MUHS batter with a beautiful changeup to seal the Commodores’ upset.