Miscues doom O’s baseball

Oxbow High catcher John Smith watches Vergennes players celebrate a grand slam home run during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow High catcher John Smith watches Vergennes players celebrate a grand slam home run during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Tris Wykes

Oxbow High catcher John Smith flips a ball to the home plate umpire during a Vermont Division III first-round playoff game against Vergennes on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow High catcher John Smith flips a ball to the home plate umpire during a Vermont Division III first-round playoff game against Vergennes on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Oxbow High's Owen Taylor dives safely into third base against Vergennes during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow High's Owen Taylor dives safely into third base against Vergennes during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Oxbow High pinch runner John Bohan, center, is congratulated by Reece Ilsley (5) after scoring against Vergennes during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes' Elon Tembruell is at left. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow High pinch runner John Bohan, center, is congratulated by Reece Ilsley (5) after scoring against Vergennes during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes' Elon Tembruell is at left. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Vergennes High runner Reese Taquertte is tagged out by Oxbow's Parker Calley during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Vergennes High runner Reese Taquertte is tagged out by Oxbow's Parker Calley during the Vermont Division III teams' first-round playoff game on June 4, 2024, in Bradford, Vt. Vergennes won, 15-5, in five innings. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Tris Wykes

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-05-2024 7:31 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — A large piece of farm machinery rumbled several hundred yards behind the right-field baseball fence at Oxbow High on Tuesday, upturning the earth and sending clouds of dust drifting in its wake. On the diamond, the Olympians’ hopes for playoff advancement went up in smoke.

After rallying for five runs and the lead during the second inning, the eighth-seeded hosts surrendered 11 consecutive runs and a VPA Division III first-round playoff contest with No. 9 Vergennes, 15-5, in a game that ended after the fifth inning via the run rule. Oxbow (5-12), which entered with a three-game winning streak, returned to sloppy habits, committing six errors and paying for them on the scoreboard.

“We reverted back today in a few areas, and it hurt,” said 25th-year Oxbow coach Shawn French.

Vergennes (5-12) used a single and an Oxbow error to take a 1-0 lead during the first inning. The Commodores led, 4-0, after two innings, but the Olympians staged a rally highlighted by Griffin Pike’s three-run double. John Smith singled home another run for a 5-4 lead after three frames.

The fourth and fifth innings weren’t kind to the Olympians, who surrendered six runs during the former and five more in the latter.

Alex Daigle replaced starter Pike on the mound after the sophomore was touched for two singles and hit a batter to begin the fourth. Two more singles followed, producing a 7-5 Vergennes lead. Oxbow then had a runner picked off third base but an errant throw allowed the Commodore to score.

The following batter popped up with two outs, but the ball fell to the grass amid three Olympians and just outside the first-base line. The next pitch was smacked off an outfielder’s glove, and the visitors’ lead grew to 9-5. Another wild throw to try and nab a runner off third resulted in a 10th Vergennes run.

“We needed to put up a zero after we took the lead. I made a pitching change, and it did not work out,” French said. “I planned to use Griffin as far as we could and Alex has been dominant in relief the last four or five games, but he wasn’t quite on today.

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“We won the last three games and we hadn’t been making (errors), and it helped. Today, it just didn’t happen.”

Four walks and a grand-slam home run highlighted the fifth inning for Vergennes, which was soon making plans for a postgame stop at a swimming hole during its 100-mile ride home.

Notes: A brave soul in a baseball uniform and a Ox mascot head cheered the hosts throughout the game despite 80-degree heat. “It’s really hot in here, but I’m committed,” he said through the prop’s mesh eyes. … Pike broke his belt during pitching warmups and paused to thread through a replacement proffered by an assistant coach. … Oxbow wore sharp-looking jerseys designed to support cancer awareness. That mission’s traditional crossed ribbon stood in for the X in the school’s name on the chest. … Vergennes first baseman Izzak Wolnicwick is a true rarity in these modern times: a player who bats without gloves.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.