Rooney and Menard Power Wild to State Title

by Ken Brown

BLUE MOUNTAIN – The Green Mountain Wild ran the table last week, blanking St. Johnsbury in a pair of matchups in the divisional finals before edging Mount Mansfield over the weekend to capture the 2022 U18 Babe Ruth State Championship at Norwich University. Hazen Union’s Lyle Rooney and Blue Mountain’s Keegan Frigon twirled a combined no-hitter to lead the Wild past St. Johnsbury 16-0 last Thursday in game one
of a three game series in the East Division Finals at Blue Mountain High School. Rooney was dominant through four innings and Frigon
pitched a perfect fifth as the mercy rule came into effect. The Wild jumped on New England Regional All-star Logan Burgess early, staking Rooney an early 3-0 lead and all the run support he would need. “Logan is a very good pitcher and no discredit to him, our guys just put on an offensive show and jumped on New England Regional All-star Logan Burgess early, staking Rooney an early 3-0 lead and all the run support he would need. “Logan is a very good pitcher and no discredit to him, our guys just put on an offensive show and were extremely balanced up and
down our entire lineup,” said head coach Jared Cushing. “The guys did a great job of making him pitch behind in the count and when they got their pitch they smashed the baseball and got out and ran. Lyle was on and efficient and that allowed us to keep him at a good pitch count to come back on Sunday,” added Cushing. Hazen’s Andrew Menard matched Rooney’s performance with a complete game shutout of his own on Friday to send the Wild into the championship game with an 11-0 win over St. Johnsbury. Blue Mountain’s Ricky Fenimore hit a walk-off inside the park grand slam in the sixth inning to induce the mercy rule to end it. Menard capped off a stellar summer on the bump for the Wild, improving to a perfect 5-0 on the season. Patrick Hallet took the loss for St. Johnsbury. “It was a tight game for almost five innings and Andrew did a great job of commanding his pitches and not giving them free passes to start a rally. He’s been great all summer and when we needed him again in a big spot to close out this series, he stepped up once again. Ricky’s hit was clutch because it allowed us to save arms for the rest of our pitching staff for a quick turnaround on Sunday,” said Cushing. Rooney was tough once again on Sunday, pitching into the fifth inning, and Ricky Fenimore closed it out with a pair of perfect innings to lead the Wild to an 8-5 win over Mount Mansfield to claim the state title. Menard, Ethan Guilding (Blue Mountain), Cam Dennis (Blue Mountain), Cam Roy (Blue Mountain), and Danville’s Joe Schlesinger warmed up their bats early in the first to stake Rooney to 5-0 lead. Rooney labored through a 30 pitch first inning, but Roy, Frigon, and Schlesinger made stellar plays in the outfield to help him escape unscathed. A walk, hit by pitch, error, and a hit made it 5-4 in the fifth and Rooney was out of the game as he hit his pitch count limit. The Wild answered back the sixth as Frigon turned a sacrifice bunt into a hit and the middle of lineup gave Fennimore all
the cushion he needed to bring the championship home. On the heels of his recent hire as the new athletic director at Hazen Union, Cushing’s summer got even better as he became a Babe Ruth state champion as a coach after winning the same title as a player just three years ago.
“Mount Mansfield beat us earlier in the season and they are probably the best hitting team we’ve seen. They came out very aggressive against Lyle in the first inning, but Lyle and some great outfield play kept them off the board and that really set the tone for the day. Mount Mansfield did a great job of making Lyle work and forced him to reach his pitch count, but we have the luxury of having three really good arms and when Lyle handed Ricky the ball, you could tell there was a sense of trust between them that Ricky was going to close this thing out. It can all go wrong when you get this many talented players together on a team that don’t know each other, but this is a very special group of kids and they laid their egos down, became fast friends, and all bought in together to reach the same goal. I’m kind of sad that it’s over because the funny thing is, we won a lot of games early on with talent alone, but we were just starting to play great team baseball and that is a testament to the makeup of these kids. I had a blast coaching them, they are so deserving of this state title, and I already can’t wait to coach them again next season,” said Cushing.