Menard Powers Wildcats to Season Opening Sweep

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photo by Vanessa Fournier
Craftsbury sophomore Landon Miller is the catcher on the Hazen Union varsity baseball team. Hazen Union won their first game of the season against Paine Mountain 10-0. At left is home plate umpire Mark Campbell.

HARDWICK – The Hazen Union baseball team leaned on senior Andrew Menard both offensively and defensively last week as they started the season off on the right foot with a home-and-home sweep of Paine Mountain (Williamstown/Northfield).

Menard needed just 65 pitches to discard the Blue Devils on Thursday, tossing five innings of no-hit ball in a 10-0 win at Hudson Fields. The crafty right-hander struck out the side in the top half of the fifth for his tenth punchout of the afternoon. It was the fourth no-hitter by Wildcat pitchers in the last four seasons, with the great Lyle Rooney laying claim to a program record three of them.

Menard helped his own cause with a 2-2 effort at the plate, including a double.

Owen Skorstad and Craftsbury Academy’s (CA) Grayson McNaughten added two hits apiece in the win. It was the beginning of a new era for a program that is now made up of players from both Hazen and CA under the three-year agreement to merge athletic programs this past fall.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union senior Andrew Menard pitches to a Paine Mountain batter April 25 on Hudson Field. The Wildcats shut out their opponents in five innings, winning 10-0.

First year head coach Shaun Allen liked what he saw from his team their first time out in live action.

“The past few weeks have been an assessment of the team’s individual strengths and weaknesses. No two athletes are the same and Joe Rivard and I have been trying to assess each situation and coach accordingly. Great senior leadership from Andrew in the opener, doing what he did on just 65 pitches with 49 strikes, while allowing just one walk was the way you want to start the season,” said Allen.

CA sophomore Grayson McNaughten retired nine of the 13 batters he faced on Saturday to complete the sweep of Paine Mountain on the road 4-2. Senior Jake Davison struck out a pair in middle relief and fellow sophomore Owen Skorstad retired the last six batters he faced to earn the save. Menard had two more hits to power the Wildcat offense, dropping the Blue Devils to 0-3 on the season.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union players who head to the dugout after shaking hands with their opponents include (left to right) Evan LaMare, Chayse Newell, Grayson McNaughten, Owen Skorstad, Jacob Hayden and Landon Miller. They won their first home game against Paine Mountain Thursday 10-0.

“Andrew’s bat was still on fire on Saturday and Dan des Groseilliers showed great patience at the plate, drawing three big walks for us. Grayson was solid and I think there are great things to come for that young sophomore. Unfortunately, we left 12 men on base, and we’ll keep working on getting more runs across the plate. We have five starting sophomores on this team, and I think they are only going to grow and get better throughout the season. I think we have great things to come for the future of this program,” said Allen.

The competition ramped up for Allen and his Wildcats this week as they traveled to Montpelier on Monday and hosted three-time defending state champion Peoples Academy on Tuesday in a pair of Capital League match-ups.

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