by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – The Hazen Union baseball team swept Peoples Academy (PA), Montpelier, and Lake Region in a variety of ways last week to stay atop the Division III standings at a perfect 7-0.
Tyson Davison paced the Wildcat offense with three hits and three runs and Andrew Menard gave up only one hit over three-plus innings of relief to earn the win as Hazen held off PA 12-7 at home last Monday. Tyler Rivard and Aasha Gould combined for three more hits and five RBIs to help fuel a six-run fourth inning to give the home team some breathing room the rest of the way. Lyle Rooney left the mound with an ankle injury after two innings of work and Menard held the Wolves offense at bay for most of the day. Chandler Follensbee took the loss for PA as they fell for the first time this season against four wins.
“We were down early and with Lyle’s injury I thought we did a nice job of fighting through some adversity and gutting out a nice win. Andrew did a nice job coming in with good command and giving our offense a chance to string together some nice at-bats and the guys put a lot of pressure on their defense with some really good base-running all day. Lyle’s gonna be fine and Andrew showed he can step into high pressure situations like that and it just shows the depth and growth of our team, which was great to see” said head coach Spencer Howard.
Senior Aasha Gould kept the winning streak alive on Tuesday with a bases loaded game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning to power the Wildcats to a 4-3 thriller over Montpelier. James Montgomery got his first action of the season behind the plate for Hazen Union and wasted little time collecting a pair of hits, including a two-run run double. Tyler Rivard had a solid start on the hill for Hazen, fanning 12 Solons over six-plus innings and Craftsbury’s Jas Zendik was perfect over the final inning and two-thirds, striking out five of the seven batters he faced. Keagan Smith was the hard luck loser for Montpelier, striking out six Wildcats and allowing just two hits on the day. Braeden Adams led the Solons with two hits on the day as they fell to 2-4.
“Smith was a crafty lefty and did a great job of keeping us off balance and we just didn’t make solid contact against him all day. Very excited for Aasha to come through for us in such a big moment and keep this thing going in the right direction. James started the inning with a great hustle double, and it set the tone for a four-year player like Aasha to walk it off and celebrate with his teammates,” said Howard.
Lyle Rooney shook off his ankle injury and pitched his best game of the season on Saturday, striking out 11 Lake Region batters in a complete game effort as the Wildcats ended the week with a 4-1 win on the road. Rivard had three hits on the day, including a double, Montgomery belted a two-run triple, and Jadon Baker added a hit and an RBI to pace the offense. David Piers smacked a two-run double for the Rangers and struck out 14 over six innings to take the tough loss. Gabe Gardner added a double for Lake Region as they fell to 2-5 on the season. The Wildcats continued their tear on the basepaths with their 71st stolen base of the season in just seven games.
“Piers was one of the best pitchers we’ve seen this season, but once again the guys stayed patient, put together some nice long at-bats, and put pressure on their defense in a variety of ways. Lyle isn’t quite where he wants to be yet, but it was great to see him locate really well, get ahead, and mix speeds. Getting James back really lengthens our lineup and allows us to get Andrew on the mound more and it was great to see him swinging a hot bat right from the get-go this week. Can’t ask any more to start the season like this and win games in multiple ways. This is a great group of kids who have put in the work, and they’ve built this program from where it was a few years ago. They try to get better every day in practice and their fundamentals have gotten so much better with great help from our coaches Joey Rivard, Ivan Menard, TJ Davison, Mike Baker, and Robbie Montgomery. This is a great community to play for, we appreciate all the support they give us, and we’ll continue to feed off of their energy as we enter a very challenging part of our schedule this week,” said Howard.
Hazen Union travelled to Danville on Monday and stayed on the road for a trip to North Country on Tuesday. They will welcome a pair of Division II powerhouses to Hudson Fields to end the week with Spaulding on Thursday and U-32 on Saturday.