WILMINGTON -- Baylee Crawford’s mom got a call during the second inning of Thursday’s baseball game at Twin Valley High School. And it came from the second baseman’s dad, who couldn’t wait to tell her about the spectacular catch their son had just made.
Dal Nesbitt would later make a pair of highlight catches in left field and catcher Chris Robinson saved a few runs by blocking wild pitches, helping the Wildcats to a 14-9 victory over Black River.
"We did have some nice catches in the outfield, but we are still shaky in the infield," said winning coach Jim Burke. "It is still early in the season, though."
There were eight different pitchers used, 19 walks and a dozen errors in Twin Valley’s home opener which lasted three hours.
The hosts were in complete control heading into the fourth, with starter Sam Molner working on a no-hitter and his team ahead 8-1. But a walk, a miscue and a single by Ben Veysey would set the stage for clean-up hitter Nick Ciufo, who belted a grand slam over the fence in right.
"Now we have a ball game," Burke told his players, after the visiting Presidents trimmed the deficit to 8-6.
But Black River would leave the bases loaded in each of the final three frames, as relievers Jason Moore and Patrick Eilers got crucial third outs.
Meanwhile, the hosts added two runs in the bottom of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 12-6 advantage -- Dal Nesbitt, Joel Gonzalez, Hunter Therrien and Molner all had an RBI single in that span.
With a cold wind blowing toward the Twin Valley dugout and about 40 people looking on from the bank near Floral Hall, Black River made things interesting in the top of the seventh. Matt Lovell and John Shoenberg delivered run-scoring singles, and another run scored on an error.
But with two outs and the bases juiced, Eilers sat Rye Greineder down to end it.
Dal Nesbitt had three hits to lead the Wildcats (3-1), who will play at Poultney on Saturday. Twin Valley hurlers Molner, Moore and Eilers combined for a six-hitter.
The hosts were into it early on, with players referring to their starter as "Big Money" and letting batterymate Chris Robinson know he had done well with chants of "good shoot, good shoot."
Molner looked unhittable through the first three frames, however four walks and a trio of errors gave the Presidents hope and an unearned run in the third. After consecutive free passes in the second, Grieneder hit a soft liner that looked like a certain single, but the vertically challenged Crawford back pedaled and went up high to somehow snatch it.
The second baseman’s father had reason to be proud -- he let his young daughter know what her brother had just done and then called up the gold glover’s mother to give her the details.
Twin Valley scored twice in the first, thanks to Therrien’s steal of home, a double from Moore and Dal Nesbitt’s RBI single. The home team erupted for six more in the third, with Cade Nesbitt’s run-scoring double to left-center being the biggest blow.
It looked like the rout was on, until Ciufo went yard in the fourth with three ducks on the pond. But the Presidents, who left 15 total runners on base in the game, couldn’t get enough clutch hits down the stretch.
Twin Valley lineup: Hunter Therrien, SS; Baylee Crawford, 2B; Sam Molner, P; Jason Moore, 1B; Dal Nesbitt, CF; Cade Nesbitt, LF; Dylan Johnson, 3B; Patrick Eilers, RF; Chris Robinson, C.
Black River lineup: Joey Noble, C; Ben Veysey, 2B; Ethan Van Guilder, SS; Nick Ciufo, 1B; Matt Lovell, CF; John Shoenburg, P; Michael Packer, LF; Thomas Woodard, 3B; Rye Greineder, RF.
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.