Yellowjackets Complete School Year Sweep With Baseball Title

  • Baseball players Tyler Wright (9), Adam Stapleton (21) and the rest of the Windsor Yellowjackets are ready to bring the championship hardware back home after defeating Green Mountain, 10-2, to win the Division III title in Burlington, Vt., on June 9, 2018. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Windsor’s Elijiah Collier, right, celebrates with Seth Balch while catcher Duncan Frazer hugs one of the coaches following their 10-2 win over Green Mountain for the Division III state championship in Burlington, Vt., on June 9, 2018. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Windsor’s Tyler Wright, left, and Justin Smith chase down a Green Mountain fly ball during their Division III championship against in Burlington, Vt., on June 9, 2018. Windsor won, 10-2. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Windsor’s Seth Balch pitches to the last batter at the end of the game during their Division III championship against Green Mountain in Burlington, Vt., on June 9, 2018. Windsor won, 10-2. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Windsor’s Ben Meagher tags safely back to first after taking a long lead during their Division III championship against Green Mountain in Burlington, Vt., on June 9, 2018. Windsor won, 10-2. (Rick Russell photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, June 09, 2018

Burlington — Hours before the Justify became the 13th thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday afternoon, Windsor High’s boys were wrapping a triple crown of their own.

The Yellowjackets, who won previous championships in football and boys basketball this school year, finished the spring season with a 10-2 win over No. 2 seeded Green Mountain Union in the VPA Division III championship game at the University of Vermont’s Centennial Field. It was Windsor’s fourth baseball title in program history and its second in three years.

“It never gets old,” said Windsor head coach Jamie Richardson, whose team finished the season 15-4 overall. “I’m just glad a lot of my younger guys were here for the future, hopefully get some experience. … But these guys have won a lot of games. They’re used to the big stage and they come ready to go.”

The start, however, wasn’t what Windsor starter Seth Balch was looking for against the Chieftains. The senior walked the first three hitters he faced and hit Green Mountain’s Ryan McSally to force in the first run of the afternoon.

Balch — who entered the title game with a 0.67 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 52⅓ innings pitched — said he didn’t feel prepared in the first inning, taking ownership of not getting himself ready beforehand.

“A lot of stress has been put on my arm in the playoffs, starting all three games. I don’t know if I physically prepared myself well enough for the playoffs,” Balch said. “I don’t think I did a great job preparing myself for the beginning of the game.

“I really just reflected on it,” he added. “I was looking up at the scoreboard, it was 1-0 at the time. … I was looking up and I was like, ‘This isn’t how I want it to end. I’m not going to let it end like this.’ I told my coaches, as a joke, that I had to let them score one.”

Yellowjacket catcher Duncan Frazer wasn’t worried, knowing his batterymate would eventually find his groove.

“I think there was too much of a lull time between throwing in the pen, doing infields and stuff like that,” Frazer said. “I called time, went out and told him, ‘Once you find the zone, you’ll be OK. Your brothers are behind you. We’ll get some runs for you, you don’t have to worry about it.’ ”

Balch struck out three straight batters to get out of the first inning only trailing by one, leaving Green Mountain with the bases loaded. He finished the game with 10 strikeouts, allowing only two hits and five walks in the complete-game victory.

“Coming here, you don’t have the same routine,” Richardson said. “Usually you get an hour, my pitchers are doing their thing. … Here, everyone is jumbled up. I don’t think he was warm. I don’t think he was prepared, mentally, physically or anything. Thirty-five pitches in the first inning, we’ve never had that.

“With work, (Balch) is better,” he added. “He can pitch nine innings and he gets better in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. It’s just him.”

Windsor’s offense, on the other hand, chipped away until it built and insurmountable lead.

Frazer started things off with an RBI single in the bottom of the first, scoring Yellowjacket lead-off hitter Ryland Richardson from third base to tie the game, 1-1. In the third, Windsor’s Dylan Hodgdon added another run off an RBI from Balch. In the fourth, Ben Meagher scored on an error from second base, stretching Windsor’s lead to 3-1.

Green Mountain’s first hit of the afternoon came with two outs in the top of the fifth on a single from eighth-grader Dylan McCarthy. GMU’s Rex Hill followed up with an RBI single, scoring McCarthy. But Hill was caught at second base trying to extend the play, which ended the threat with the Yellowjackets maintaining a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Windsor blew the game open with three consecutive hits and two walks that chased GMU starter Tanner Bischofberger from the game. Jackets’ Justin Smith hit a two RBI single off of Chieftains’ relief pitcher Hill. Windsor led, 7-2, after five innings and never looked back.

“It’s a special group of seniors,” Richardson said. “They didn’t disperse. They didn’t jump to other sports. They stuck together through football, basketball and now baseball. … At a small school like that, you have to have everybody rally around each other. You need all your athletes. That’s what these guys do.”

Windsor extended its lead with three more runs in the sixth inning.

Richardson was 1-for-1 with a single three walks and three runs scored. Frazer was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Balch was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

“What makes this group of athletes coming through Windsor right now special is that we want to work,” Frazer said. “We want to win. You don’t have to worry about us coming up with excuses, missing practices. We’re there 25 minutes early every day, even in the pouring rain. We sit there in the rain and talk about it. It brings our family closer. It’s just what we do.’

Balch, Frazer, Richardson, Robert Slocum, Ben Meagher and Dakota Page all finished the year having won three state titles in three different sports. Balch, headed to play baseball at Keene State next year, graduates having helped win five trophies for Windsor.

“I think we brought the community closer with sports. More people go out to all the games. More people are behind us in the community,” Frazer said. “Everybody was backing us up behind this championship.”

Windsor graduates six seniors, five starters and two starting pitchers from this year’s squad. It also loses two of the team’s top three hitters.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.