by Ken Brown
MONTPELIER – Patience paid off for the Hazen Union baseball team in their season opener last week as they drew 10 walks from Solon pitching to claim their first official victory in the Capital League.
Craftsbury Academy’s Jas Zendik wasted little time acclimating to his new team as he belted a double and a triple to help lead Hazen to a 5-3 road win over Montpelier last Tuesday. Jadon Baker went 2-4 at the plate with a double and closed out the game on the mound to earn the save, and Tyler Rivard belted a double, drew three walks, and struck out seven over two-and-a-third innings to earn the win.
“We haven’t had many practices outside, so we were a little rusty in spots, but overall I was happy with how solid we were defensively and patient we were at the plate,” said head coach Spencer Howard. “Jas won a state championship with U-32 last season, so he brings a lot of experience of the Capital to the team. It’s not easy coming to play for a different school and figuring out how to fit in, but he has had some great practices, has meshed really well with the other guys, and I was so happy to see him contribute in such a big way right off the bat like that. Jadon had a great game all around for us and it was nice to see him so sharp on the mound at the end after such a long layoff. Not many teams are going to want to pitch to Tyler this season and he’s going to have to be patient and hunt his pitches. He set the tone for us today at the plate not chasing pitches out of the zone,” added Howard.
Junior ace Lyle Rooney started on the bump for the Wildcats and gave up two earned runs on one hit, while striking out 5 and walking three. Hazen broke open a 2-2 game in the top of the sixth inning with three unearned runs that was the difference in the ballgame. Zendik started things off with a double and Hazen turned a pair of walks and errors from the Solons into the eventual game-winner. Baker did the rest to earn the save. Andrew Tringe and Will Talbert had a hit apiece for Montpelier and Cabot Hart gave up three earnedruns and struck out five over two innings to take the loss. The Solons made it to the quarterfinal round of the Division III playoffs in 2021.
“We did some things really well for our first time out and collecting seven hits facing live pitching for the first time is a really good sign. We had Lyle on a pre-planned pitch count in the cold weather and we’ll give him time to build up his stamina to get to where he wants to be as the weather warms up. We have good depth this year and have a nice schedule to start the season to give us an opportunity to get our feet underneath us and build up multiple arms on the mound. We don’t have our roster fully figured out and everyone’s role solidified quite yet, but hopefully the weather turns around soon so we can get into a rhythm with some games and get to where we want to be,” said Howard.
Hazen Union’s matchup against Danville last Thursday was postponed due to weather and rescheduled for May 9. Howard and his squad will get another full week of practice under their belts before traveling to Williamstown on Saturday. The Wildcats’ home opener is scheduled for Monday against Lamoille before welcoming Peoples Academy to town on Tuesday.