WILMINGTON — In the regular season finale, the Twin Valley baseball team showed grit, determination, and the willingness to battle no matter the circumstances in a 19-9 loss to Stratton Mountain School (SMS).
The Wildcats (0-9) were down twice by more than 10 runs and each time they put more runs on the board to avoid having the game end early.
“I think it gives us a lot of confidence. The year of hard work has paid off. We had a few mental errors … but for the most part they played pretty well and I think it gave the kids a little boost in confidence that we can play,” said Twin Valley head coach Greg Nido. “The program hasn’t been around, so it was pleasant to see them play a good game and keep it close and battle back. It’s a learning experience for them and I think it’s something to build on.”
SMS scored six runs in the first inning, jumping out to an early lead. After that, Twin Valley starting pitcher Joey Crafts was able to settle down over the next few innings.
“He pitched a very good game. The first inning he had a rough outing and then he picked it up in the second, third and fourth and he pitched very well,” said Nido.
Down by as much as 13-2 in the top of the fourth inning, the Wildcats battled back in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Luke Wrathall got things going for Twin Valley with a single to left. Crafts and Seth Wrathall drew back to back walks to load the bases and Max Nido was able to work a walk to force a run home. The next batter, Trevor Briggs, delivered a two RBI double to cut the lead to eight runs, before the Bears (4-4) were able to get out of the inning.
Halen Ranslow came on in relief for Crafts to start the fifth inning. The first two batters for SMS got on base and a single by Sergio Fernandez drove in a run, leaving runners on first and second with no outs in the inning. Tor Borgia drew a walk to load the bases and a long sacrifice fly to left by Trevor Phaneuf made it 15-5. Another run scored a few batters later on a fielding error to make it 16-5 before the inning concluded.
Going into the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats knew they needed to put more runs on the board. Gage Ryan drew a walk and was able to advance to second shortly after. Luke Wrathall also drew a walk to put runners on first and second with one down.
Two batters later, with two down in the inning, Seth Wrathall singled to right field, scoring Ryan. A low fly ball hit toward shallow right-center field by Garrett Ryan cleared the second baseman and dropped in for a single scoring two runs to make it 16-8. Nido singled to put runners on first and third, but the Bears were able to stop the rally there.
“I think it’s great for their confidence,” said SMS head coach George Forbes of the win. “I think it’s good … for Twin Valley here as well. It’s the first time they’ve had a varsity team in five years. Our program’s pretty young too, so to be able to have a game where there’s a little bit of … back and forth adds a little bit to the game.”
Forbes noted that in the previous two games between the teams earlier in the season SMS had won by the 10-rule earlier in the games than on Thursday.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wildcats kept plugging away. Ranslow walked to open the inning and immediately stole second on the next pitch by Michael Caruso. Ranslow advanced to third on a wild pitch and was able to score on a passed ball with two outs in the inning. A single by Luke Wrathall and walks by Crafts and Seth Wrathall loaded the bases, but the Bears were able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Going into the top of the seventh inning, there was a brief meeting between the umpires and the coaches and it was determined that if SMS scored two runs the game would be over. According to the baseball guide on the Vermont Principal’s Association’s website, it states under the 10-run rule that “After 4 ½ innings, if a team is down by 10 runs at the end of the inning, the game is over.”
SMS scored two runs in the top of the seventh, the first on a single to left and the second on a single up the middle by Harry Weinreich to end the game. Playoffs for both teams will begin next week.