WRV baseball going back to that old familiar place

  • White River Valley catcher Braeden Russ, right, tags Connor Petry, of Arlington, out at home to end their VPA Division IV semifinal with a 5-4 win for the Wildcats in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • White River Valley Head Coach Devin Cilley, right, talks with Jameson Roussel, left, before he steps up to bat against Arlington in their VPA Division IV semifinal game in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. White River Valley won 5-4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Donovan Craven, right, of White River Valley, and catcher Kasey Dicky, of Arlington, look to the umpire as he calls Craven out at home during their VPA Division IV semifinal game in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. White River Valley won 5-4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • White River Valley teammates Austin Tracy, left, and Robby McShinsky, right, meet in the air over the mound to celebrate their 5-4 VPA Division IV semifinal win over Arlington in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Griff Briggs, of Arlington, right, hands over the game ball to White River Valley pitcher Dominic Craven, left, after the Wild Cats' 5-4 win in the VPA Division IV semifinal in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2022 9:36:20 PM
Modified: 6/7/2022 9:34:11 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — Devin Cilley thought his White River Valley baseball team was in trouble when he saw the ball get past senior right fielder Mason Gauthier.

The No. 2 seed Wildcats had a 5-4 lead with two outs in the seventh inning of their VPA Division IV semifinal against No. 3 seed Arlington. With the Eagles’ Cannon Petry on first base, Griff Briggs singled through the right side, and Gauthier could not field it cleanly, so Petry got the wave around third.

Gauthier gathered the ball and fired to junior second baseman Robby McShinsky, who delivered a perfect relay to freshman catcher Braeden Russ. Russ put the tag on the sliding Petry, and with that, WRV (14-4) was off to yet another state championship game.

“That was huge,” Cilley said in an understatement. “It squeaked by Mason there, but Robby made a really good throw (and) Braeden did a really good job at the plate catching the ball and tagging him.”

The Wildcats’ defense ultimately won them the game, but early on the defense was merely keeping them in it. WRV senior Dominic Craven matched zeros with Briggs for three innings before Arlington broke through in the fourth with a pair of run-scoring singles. The Cats halved the deficit in the bottom of the fourth when senior Austin Tracy singled with one out for his team’s first hit, advancing to second on a throwing error. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on senior first baseman Weston Trombly’s sacrifice fly to center.

Craven allowed a third run in the fifth, but made up for it and then some with his bat in the bottom half. His younger brother, freshman Donovan Craven, dumped a single into right field to drive in Russ, making it a one-run game again. With two outs, McShinsky’s base hit moved pinch-runner Finnigan Bailey to third, and the elder Craven, after battling to a full count, hit a hard grounder through the infield to bring in two runs and give WRV its first lead.

“I knew I needed to pull through somehow, someway,” Craven said. “I knew (Briggs) was throwing a great game, and I was a little nervous. We were ready for the speed. We knew we had to have quick hands. It took a minute to adjust to that, calm the nerves, but the second time through the order, we were ready.”

Russ gave Craven a lift in the sixth by throwing out a would-be base stealer at second, and the Wildcats added what turned out to be a necessary insurance run in their half when senior Jamesen Roussel danced off first base and got into a rundown, allowing senior Macin Gaudette to score from third before Roussel was tagged out.

A one-out double in the seventh and two wild pitches brought the Eagles back within one, but after Petry walked with two outs, WRV came up with the game-winning defensive play. Craven went the distance, allowing five hits and five walks while striking out 12.

The ’Cats will take on undefeated, top-seeded Blue Mountain for the state title at Centennial Field in Burlington at a date and time to be determined. WRV won the Division III championship in 2019 and the D-IV title last year, going undefeated both times sandwiched around the canceled 2020 season. Although the Wildcats have lost four games this season, all have been to higher division opponents.

Several of WRV’s players were also on the boys basketball team that lost the championship game to Blue Mountain on a buzzer-beater back in March, and that result is squarely on their minds as they aim to avenge the defeat on the baseball diamond.

“That was a big blow to me and the whole team and the community, really,” Craven said. “We’re out for blood now.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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