Cats Protect Top Seed with Clean Sweep

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union Wildcat senior Jadon Baker safely slides into home plate face first as Harwood pitcher Xavier Brookens leaps over Baker for the ball. Making the call is Umpire Mark Campbell. Hazen Union won 9-3.

by Ken Brown

BRADFORD – The Hazen Union baseball team improved to 12-1 on the year and maintained their top spot in the Division III standings last week with a trio of convincing wins over Oxbow, Harwood, and Randolph.

Brendan Moodie had a pair of hits, including a three run double and Andrew Menard struck out eight to earn the win as the Wildcats extinguished Oxbow on the road last Tuesday 15-1. Senior catcher James Montgomery also drove in three runs with a double and a pair of hits and fellow seniors Jadon Baker and Tyler Rivard combined for four more hits and a pair of doubles for Hazen. Chase Lund took the loss for the Olympians, giving up five earned runs over two innings and added a pair of hits at the plate as they fell to 2-11 on the season.

“Oxbow is a young up-and-coming team with Lund being their only senior. They are rebuilding quickly with some good young talent, they still get a lot of community support at their games, and they could be a problem for somebody in the first round of the playoffs. I was really happy the way Andrew bounced back from the Spaulding game last week, he pounded the zone and stayed away from the middle of the plate. The guys were patient at the plate all day, working some long at bats and didn’t do a lot of chasing,” said head coach Spencer Howard.

Baker and Montgomery kept hot bats for the Wildcats on Thursday, belting a pair of triples and combining for five hits in a 9-3 home win over Harwood. Senior ace Lyle Rooney went the distance to earn the win, striking out eight Highlanders and also drove in a pair of runs to help his own cause. Matt Fiaschetti went 3-4 with a double and Boone Maher added a pair of hits in the loss. Xavier Brookens gave up five earned on seven hits to take the loss for Harwood, as they fell to 2-9.

“Harwood was an unknown to us coming in, playing in a tough schedule in Division II, but the guys did a good job of playing their own game, to their own strengths, and answered every time they rallied. We did a good job of shutting down a potential big inning for them in the fifth and Tyler made one of the smartest defensive plays I’ve seen in a while at shortstop. It was a next level play in the top of the seventh to set the tone to close out the game,” said Howard.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union senior Tyler Rivard makes contact with the ball against a Harwood pitcher May 18 on Hudson Field. Hazen defeated their opponents 9-3.

Jake Davison went 2-4 and drove in a pair of runs to help fuel the Wildcat offense and Rivard struck out 11 over six innings of work in an 11-3 road win over Randolph on Saturday. Montgomery was a perfect 3-3 at the plate and Rooney added a pair of hits, including a double to help fuel an eight-run fifth inning to break open a close game. Down 3-2 after four innings, Baker, Rivard, Montgomery, Davison, and Dan des Groseilliers strung together hits in the top of the fifth to score four of their eight runs with two outs. The loss dropped the Galloping Ghosts to 4-9 on the season.

“Randolph has battled some good teams in the Capital and came out ready to play. We worked really hard for those first two runs and Tyler battled through some adversity early in the fourth, but the top of our lineup did a good job of responding in the fifth,” said Howard.

Hazen Union sits atop of the division with one week left in the regular season, but will have to maneuver through a trio of Capital League powerhouses in Montpelier, Thetford Academy, and Lyndon Institute this week to secure their second consecutive top seed in the Division III playoffs. Howard and his veteran club are squarely focused on their next opponent however and he appreciates the opportunity for his team to play under the lights at the Montpelier Recreational Field this week.

“This is a special group of seniors who have put in the work and stuck to the process of taking it one pitch, one at bat, and one game at a time to help rebuild this program. You don’t get the opportunity to play under the lights very often as a player and win or lose I’m just really excited for the guys to get to experience it on a nice field like that,” said Howard.

The Wildcats wrap up the regular season this week as they traveled to Montpelier Monday evening for a rare high school baseball game under the lights, hosted Thetford Academy on Tuesday on Senior Night, and will travel to Lyndon Institute on Thursday.

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