Yellowjackets sting Rebels in semifinal
TOWNSHEND >> Three days after Muhammad Ali passed away, the baseball team that was considered "the greatest" in Division 3 was knocked out of the tournament.
And it happened to be a boy named Frazer that delivered the big blow.
Duncan Frazer belted an RBI triple in the top of the eighth and then stole home, leading No. 5 Windsor to a 3-1 extra-inning victory over top-seeded Leland & Gray in Monday's semifinal.
"We made mistakes and they took advantage of them," said Leland & Gray coach Eric Durocher. "They are a gritty baseball team and they always have been. They are a well-coached team. Take nothing away from them, but I don't think they are better than us."
Leland & Gray shortstop Patrick McDonald looked like the MVP up until the extra frame. He floated like a butterfly when hurdling over the Windsor catcher's tag to impressively give the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the first inning and made two sweet defensive plays to his left — robbing Frazer of a single in the sixth and then throwing out Brandon Tillman just in time in the seventh.
"He is an amazing ball player and he's only a sophomore," Durocher said of McDonald.
Pitchers Casper Rowe and Seth Balch held the offenses scoreless from innings two through five. Windsor had the best chances to score in that span, with two on and one out in the fourth and then a couple of ducks on the pond with two down in the fifth.
The YellowJackets would pull even at 1-1 in the sixth. Nick Kapuscinski started it with a double and advanced to third on the play, before scoring on Frazer's grounder up the gut that a diving McDonald somehow made a play on.
The home crowd really got behind their team in the middle of the seventh, with "Let's go Rebels" chants coming from the bleachers. Bryce Karg and Walker Hamer appeared to be pumping each other up in the on-deck circle, before Karg started things off with a single to left. But Balch would strike out the next three batters that he faced.
Frazer would then belt a one-out triple to center in the eighth that scored Connor Gould, who had reached on an error. And when Ryland Richardson failed to make contact on a squeeze play, Frazer made it home before catcher Owen Beattie was able to tag him out.
Balch fanned 13 and gave up just one hit to earn the victory. Kapuscinski and Frazer each finished with a pair of hits to lead the visitors.
Rowe (5 K's, 3 BB, 7 hits) went the distance for the Rebels, who ended up with a 15-3 record. Karg had Leland & Gray's lone hit.
"I'm so proud of these guys for taking what we had and winning 15 games. I'm pretty excited about the future," stated coach Durocher.
With sophomore ace Luc DuGrenier out for the season with an injury, the Rebels got off to a 2-2 start and then won 11 consecutive regular-season games to capture the Marble Valley League title and the top seed in the Division 3 Tournament. Hamer and Nick Morrow each went 2 for 3 when the Rebels mauled Montpelier 12-2 in a playdown game and Jeremy Bovat drove in three runs when the Townshend team trumped Oxbow 11-4 in a quarterfinal. Rowe fanned a combined 14 batters in his three playoff starts.
Leland & Gray roster: Coaches — Eric Durocher, Mark Neal, Matt Rosenthal. Statistician — Gregg Morrow. Seniors — Owen Beattie, Jeremy Bovat, Max Cramp, Nick Morrow. Juniors — Walker Hamer, Bryce Karg. Sophomores — Luc DuGrenier, Joel Emmons, Patrick McDonald, Patrick Meyer, Storm Rowe, Grayson VanHenrick. Freshmen — Robert Hallock, Casper Rowe.
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