Just a little too little: WRJ Post 84 drops state tourney opener

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Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2021 9:23:44 PM
Modified: 7/28/2021 9:23:46 PM

COLCHESTER, Vt. — White River Junction Post 84 needed a few innings to wake up in Wednesday’s Vermont State American Legion Tournament opener. It cost them.

WRJ completed a big comeback but fell just short in the end, as the South Burlington Wildcats pulled out an 8-7 victory at Colchester High.

Third-seeded Post 84 (11-8) nearly completed a two-out rally to tie the game, or potentially take the lead, in the top of the seventh inning. Third baseman Alex Bushway singled, and left fielder Nate O’Donnell hit a single into left center field. Bushway rounded third base, but he held as Post 84 head coach Dylan Spencer put up the stop sign. O’Donnell advanced to second base while the defense’s attention focused on Bushway. But right fielder Ethan Marshia couldn’t pick up the big hit in the ensuing at-bat, ending the game on a fly out to left field.

Spencer didn’t regret his decision at third base.

“I think he would’ve easily got thrown out,” Spencer said. “I think the shortstop (had a) pretty solid arm. He already had the ball. Alex was just barely rounding the base. (If) you take your chances, (you hope that the) ball’s in the dirt or an overthrow. But I think the shortstop probably would have made a good throw.”

No. 2 seed South Burlington (14-4) jumped all over WRJ starting pitcher Carder Stratton, to the tune of six runs in the first inning. The Wildcats exerted patience to get in favorable counts and draw good pitches to hit and in the process worked Stratton’s pitch count over 40 in the inning.

Spencer said his team lacked energy early.

“We came out a little bit lethargic,” Spencer said. “We got punched in the mouth. This group responds really well, but we just can’t get off to that bad of a start and expect to claw our way all the way back.”

Stratton’s day on the mound ended with that first inning. Colin Vielleux, who started the game at third base, took over in the second inning, and Stratton moved to shortstop.

Vielleux allowed one run in the second inning, but then WRJ began its comeback. They matched the Wildcats’ big first inning with a six-run third inning, all via walks and singles, along with one error.

WRJ tied the game in the fourth inning, and Vielleux settled in on the mound. Spencer said Vielleux’s ability to change speeds kept South Burlington’s hitters off-balance. When he took over pitching duties, he just wanted to give his team a chance to come back.

“Just go in and try to keep the game within seven to get us back into it,” Vielleux said. “I just went up there thinking it was 0-0 and that it was a clean new game, and I just went on from there.”

South Burlington regained the lead in the fifth inning thanks to three singles off Vielleux. In five innings of work, Vielleux allowed the two earned runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

WRJ second baseman Jacob Barry finished 2-for-2 with two walks, one RBI and one run. Marshia went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs.

Post 84 will play to keep its season alive Thursday against Colchester at Bellows Falls Union High. WRJ’s usual home field, Maxfield Sports Complex, is unavailable due to an Upper Valley Nighthawks home game.

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

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