Wild’s Road to State Tourney Goes Through St. Johnsbury

by Ken Brown

DANVILLE – Hazen Union’s Andrew Menard and Lyle Rooney pitched the Green Mountain Wild to a pair of victories last week as they wrapped up their Babe Ruth regular season with an 8-3 record and will square off against St. Johnsbury this week with a state tournament bid on the line.

Menard ran his record to 4-0 this summer with a complete game gem against Suburban (Winooski) last week as the Wild ran away with an 8-3 win. The Wild split a doubleheader with the Colchester Cannons over the weekend, with Blue Mountain’s Ricky Fennimore taking the loss in the opener 9-3. Rooney took the hill in the nightcap and pitched five scoreless innings as the Wild ended the regular season on a high note with a 6-3 win. Menard capped off his stellar week with a perfect seventh inning to earn the save.

“Andrew had a great outing and had beautiful command against Suburban and brought that same form against the Cannons, nailing down a crucial save for us over the weekend,” said head coach Jared Cushing. “Lyle was sharp for us in the season finale and it is a nice luxury to have a pair of arms like that on the hill that give you a chance every time out,” added Cushing.

The Wild, St. Johnsbury, and Lyndon own the best records in the East Division, but Lyndon’s season has come to an end due to several injuries. That leaves the Wild and St. Johnsbury to play a three game series this week for a chance to go to the Vermont 16-18 State Tournament. The two teams square off on Thursday and Saturday and if the series is tied after two games, Saturday will turn into a doubleheader. The winner will advance to play the survivor of the West Division bracket at Norwich University on Sunday.

“Lyle, Andrew, and Ricky have all pitched well for us this summer, so we feel good about handing them the ball in any situation and having a chance to win. We split with St. Johnsbury this season and I’m sure it’s going to be a competitive series. We’re going to go all in with our best arms in the first two games and worry about all the other stuff later. The guys are excited and ready to go,” said Cushing.

Menard, Rooney, and Fennimore joined the Wild’s Cam Roy and Cam Dennis as New England Regional All-Stars two weeks ago in Stamford, Conn. The team was coached by Cushing and Brandon Flood where they lost to Stamford and New London by identical scores of 11-1. Rooney pitched the opener against Stamford where he was solid through five innings before leaving the game down 3-1. St. Johnsbury’s Logan Burgess suffered a similar fate against New London, leaving the game in the sixth inning down 4-1. Stamford steamrolled the competition to take the title.

“Two and done was not the success we all hoped for, but the guys were competitive against some very good baseball teams. Lyle and Logan pitched really well, but we just couldn’t get the bats going and we didn’t finish off either game the way we would’ve liked,” said Cushing.

Menard, Rooney, and the Wild will face St. Johnsbury in game one on Thursday and game two on Saturday at Blue Mountain High School.