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Like He Never Left: South Royalton Senior Happy, Healthy and Winning

  • South Royalton’s Troy Tracy readies for the throw as Whitcomb baserunner Hunter Paradis slides into third base during yesterday’s game in Bethel. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    South Royalton’s Troy Tracy readies for the throw as Whitcomb baserunner Hunter Paradis slides into third base during yesterday’s game in Bethel. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Royalton’s Alex Berk, left, gives his teammate Troy Tracy a high-five during yesterday’s game against Whitcomb. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    South Royalton’s Alex Berk, left, gives his teammate Troy Tracy a high-five during yesterday’s game against Whitcomb. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Royalton’s Troy Tracy readies for the throw as Whitcomb baserunner Hunter Paradis slides into third base during yesterday’s game in Bethel. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • South Royalton’s Alex Berk, left, gives his teammate Troy Tracy a high-five during yesterday’s game against Whitcomb. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Finally healthy and with his grades on track, Thomas Ingham is determined to help the South Royalton School baseball team accomplish what it couldn’t three years ago.

South Royalton went 17-1 and was the top seed in the 2010 Vermont Division IV playoffs before a 4-0 loss to Blue Mountain in the state championship game. Ingham was a freshman and starting third baseman for that team.

Ingham never got the chance to try to help the Royals finish the job during either of the last two seasons, missing much of the 2011 campaign while academically ineligible before sitting out last year with a knee injury sustained during preseason.

Now back in the lineup, Ingham has been vital during South Royalton’s 10-1 start, both at the plate and on the mound. He’s 4-1 as a starter, including a no-hitter against Williamstown on April 27 followed by yesterday’s four-inning, two-hit work in a 20-0 Royal win at Whitcomb.

Ingham has also been torrid at the plate, cranking a home run and a double in South Royalton’s road triumph over Twinfield on May 7, then going 2-for-3 with a double and triple yesterday.

South Royalton coach Mike Ballou is glad to have him back.

“I’m definitely proud of the way Thomas has been playing,” Ballou said. “Baseball takes a lot of commitment, and he’s been out of the game for the better part of two years. But he’s a competitor and he doesn’t like to lose. He doesn’t give in and he’s not going to let his time away shake (his confidence). That’s what competitors do.”

Ingham, a Tunbridge resident, sprained his right knee prior to last season while wearing logging boots at practice. The injury kept him out the whole spring.

“I just wore them because it was kind of cold out, but obviously it didn’t go very well,” Ingham recalled. “I took a swing and my foot turned, but my knee didn’t.”

He had no problems swinging yesterday, beginning in the second inning when he drove an 0-1 pitch off Whitcomb starter Scott Nickerson (four innings, three hits, seven runs, one earned ) for a leadoff double. He later scored Troy Tracy’s single up the middle for South Royalton’s first run.

Ingham again produced while leading off the fifth, launching a towering triple to deep left center and coming around to score on the same play when the relay throw from the shortstop got past Hornets third baseman Paul Fleming.

It was one of seven Whitcomb errors on the day as the Royals scored 14 unearned runs, unusual against an improved Hornets team that entered yesterday on a four-game win streak. At 5-4, Whitcomb has already exceeded last year’s win total under second-year coach Les McIntyre and had been scoring nearly 12 runs per game.

The Hornets stranded five runners in scoring position and allowed the Royals to blow the game open while batting around and plating five unearned runs in the fifth inning.

“This team has been a lot better this year, and we just didn’t show that today against an outstanding South Royalton team,” McIntyre said. “Our bats are a lot better than what we showed today. We scored 17 runs against Craftsbury and 24 against Chelsea. But I think we’ll bounce back from this, just like we did after losing to Williamstown.”

Despite all of the unearned runs, the Royals certainly did their own part at the plate. They cranked out 15 hits for the second straight game, eight of them coming in the top of the seventh inning as they opened the floodgates with seven runs off strike-throwing Whitcomb reliever Forrest Peront. All eight hits during the frame were RBI singles.

Extra Bases: Nickerson plunked South Royalton’s Darren Cilley and David Ballou two times each. The first time he was hit, Ballou was not allowed to advance to first base after the home plate umpire determined he did not sufficiently make an effort to avoid the pitch. Ballou ended up reaching anyway, on an infield throwing error. ... Both teams had five stolen bases. ... The Royals finally scored 20 runs after scoring 19 twice and 17 once this season. ... South Royalton has won by an average score of 12-2 during an eight-game winning streak. ... While coaching third base in the seventh inning, Mike Ballou nearly made a bare-handed stab on a line drive into foul territory struck by the Royals’ Darrin Kennedy. Ballou dropped the ball, prompting several Royal players to remind him, “Two hands, coach.” ... Nathan Moore, Ingham’s first cousin, pitched two innings of relief and struck out the side in the sixth inning. Leif Johnson pitched the seventh for the Royals, retiring the Hornets in 10 pitches.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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