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Thetford’s pursuit of state title plaque comes up short in final

  • Thetford Academy assistant coach Andy Boyce gves a pep talk before the start of the Division III baseball state championship against People’s Academy at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell

  • Thetford Academy's Ethan Marshia breaks for third base against Peoples Academy during the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Ethan Marshia returns to the dugout after scoring a run against Peoples Academy during the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Ethan Marshia pitches against Peoples Academy during the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Ryan Pepe adorns Thetford Academy's jackalope mascot before the start of the Division III baseball state championship against People’s Academy at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Alford Manning III waits for the start of the Division III baseball state championship against People’s Academy at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Matt Briglin tips his cap to the victorious Peoples Academy Wolves after the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Nolan Pepe breaks for second base against Peoples Academy during the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy coach Phil Chaput pulls pitcher Ethan Marshia during the Division III baseball state championship against People’s Academy at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Thetford Academy's Jackson Kingsbury swings and misses against Peoples Academy during the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

  • Peoples Academy players celebrate their victory over Thetford Academy in the Division III baseball state championship at Centennial Field in Burlington on Sunday, June 13, 2021. Photo by Glenn Russell Glenn Russell photograph—GLENN RUSSELL

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2021 10:37:59 PM
Modified: 6/14/2021 12:10:37 PM

BURLINGTON — Thetford Academy baseball’s successful 2021 season fell one game short of a Vermont Principals Association Division III state title, as the Panthers lost to Peoples Academy, 4-1, onSunday evening in the championship game at Centennial Field.

More specifically, top-seeded Thetford (13-4) came up one inning short. After scoring a run in the bottom of the first, the Panthers led 1-0 through four.

Junior pitcher Ethan Marshia was rolling. Peoples put runners on base each inning, but Marshia calmly worked out of danger every time.

But the Panthers committed an error to start the fifth and couldn’t recover. No. 2 seed Peoples (13-3-1) hit back-to-back doubles after the error to take the lead, and then Thetford made two more errors. A hit batsman and a walk ended Marshia’s night on the mound with his team trailing, 4-1.

Thetford head coach Phil Chaput chalked up the rough inning to the defensive miscues more than Marshia’s pitching.

“When you get ground balls, those are expected to be fielded, and pop flies that need to be caught — if those happen, then he walks out of there kind of clean, or one run, maybe,” Chaput said. “And that’s just tough. Nothing against Ethan. The batter before I pulled him, you could tell that he was losing steam. I don’t think entering that inning he had lost anything.”

Marshia finished with five strikeouts in his 4-plus innings of work. Junior Mack Briglin took over with the bases loaded and no outs, and he stranded all three runners. Briglin recorded three perfect innings in relief with two strikeouts.

Offensively, Thetford was unable to get much going against Peoples sophomore Ben Alekson. Junior catcher Ryan Malloy drove in Marshia with an RBI single in the first inning, but Alekson dominated the rest of the way. He finished with 15 strikeouts in a complete-game effort, surrendering the one earned run on three hits and two walks.

Peoples head coach Keith Woodland called his pitcher’s performance magnificent.

“He has a tendency to get stronger as he gets deeper in the games,” Woodland said. “We started mixing up some breaking balls, some off-speed stuff into it, and that helped him keep the hitters off-balance the second and third time around.”

Alekson recorded the final three outs via strikeouts to seal People’s second state title in program history. The Wolves denied TA its first state crown since 1986 in the process.

Chaput said the Panthers were trying to hit fastballs early in the count to avoid those secondary pitches, which Alekson commanded well. Throughout the game, Chaput emphasized to his team to be quick to the ball and try to put it in play.

But that proved difficult against a pitcher of Alekson’s caliber.

“He’s a good pitcher. He’s got life on his fastball, and then he really started mixing in that breaking pitch later towards the end of the game,” Chaput said. “He just made our hitters very uncomfortable. We were just trying to put the ball in play. And when we did, we had some success. But tip of the cap to him, he’s a good young pitcher, and he’ll be around for two more years, too.”

Thetford finished with just three hits in the game: Malloy’s RBI single and singles by sophomore second baseman Nolan Pepe and sophomore center fielder Jacob Gilman.

The Panthers will graduate three seniors: Logan Brinkman, Lucas Gilman and Jackson Kingsbury.

Chaput said those losses will hurt, but he thinks the returning players getting the experience of a strong regular season and playing in the state title game will serve them well in the future. He’s hopeful that the program will keep moving up despite the disappointing loss.

“A run to the state championship game does great things for us confidence-wise and everything that we’ve done,” Chaput said. “Those (younger) kids have that experience coming up into next year being like, ‘I’ve played in the most pressure-packed spot. I know what it’s like. I know what it can do. So I’m going to be able to prepare myself for that.’ So I feel confident that we’ll be OK.”

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.




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