by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Senior Lyle Rooney used his arm and his bat to help the Hazen Union baseball team sandwich a trio of important wins against Danville, North Country, and U-32 around their first loss of the season to Division I powerhouse Spaulding last week.
Rooney drove in three runs with his first home run of the season and shut down a late Danville rally to earn the save last Monday to help Hazen survive at home, 10-8. Sophomore Brendan Moodie drove in a pair of runs for the Wildcats with three hits, James Montgomery added an RBI on two hits, and Andrew Menard earned the win, striking out eight Bears through three plus innings of work. Twinfield-Cabot’s Meles Gouge drove in two runs with a pair of triples and Sebastian Eldred took the loss on mound as the Bears fell to 3-7 on the season.
“With three games still ahead of us throughout the week, I tried to get through this game and save some arms, but it ended up biting us a little in the seventh and that’s on me. Danville is always well coached, well prepared, and shows up to play and it was nice to see Lyle come in focused and efficient, shutting down the rally on five pitches,” said head coach Spencer Howard.
Rooney went right back to work on Tuesday, striking out eight through six innings to help Hazen Union earn a 7-5 home win over Division I North Country. Seniors Tyler Rivard and Jadon Baker powered the Wildcat offense, combining for six hits, including a pair of triples, and six runs batted in. Rooney also was a perfect 2-2 on the day at the plate. Manny St. Marie had three hits for the Falcons, Kadan Jones belted a home run and drove in a pair of runs, and Ben West struck out eight in the loss as they fell to 4-6 on the year.
“Their freshman pitcher did a good job of keeping us off balance and they are a very solid team. I liked how our lineup worked good at bats to put the ball in play to help us use some small ball to manufacture some important runs. Lyle was good for us, but maybe just a little off coming back from Monday’s work, but overall he is really close to commanding the secondary pitches that he’s been working on,” said Howard.
Zack Wilson belted a grand slam and drove in six runs to help Spaulding end the Wildcats nine-game winning streak 16-6 at home last Thursday. Hazen Union took a 6-5 lead in the top of third, but Trevor Arsenault struck out four and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way to earn the win in relief for the defending Division II state champs. James Montgomery had three hits and drove in a pair of runs and Tyler Rivard added two hits, including a two run double in the loss. Cam Burke and Cole McAllister combined for five more hits and four RBIs for Spaulding as they improved to 9-1.
“I thought we came out a little flat in this one for some reason, but guys showed some good fight in that third inning, battling through some long at bats to chase their starter. Spaulding has nine guys who can flat out hit the baseball and they’re still a very good team. I like that we are starting to show that we can score runs in different ways, I wish we had started the game with the same energy we showed in the third, but we’ll take some good positives away from this loss,” said Howard.
Rooney capped off his stellar week with a complete game gem, striking out nine to eclipse 200 strikeouts for his career as the Wildcats earned a dominant road win over Division II power U-32 on Saturday afternoon, 7-1. Rooney kept a hot bat as well, driving in four runs with a pair of hits to help his own cause. Jadon Baker added a pair of hits, including a triple, Dan des Groseilliers belted a double, and Rivard was 1-1 with three intentional walks. Sawyer Mislak, Cam Tatro, and Alex Keane had the only hits on the day for U-32 and Aiden Boyd gave up four earned in the loss as they fell to 8-4.
“The boys came back from Thursday’s loss with a good practice on Friday to reset and turn the page. We had some defensive things we wanted to work on and they approached it with good energy and brought that same level of energy to the start of this game. We are starting to do some little things really well as a team to create and manufacture runs and defensively we were very solid. You couldn’t ask for a more crisp and efficient outing from Lyle and Tyler and Jadon led us defensively in the infield and outfield. That is a tough place to get a win and a good way to end the week. We’ll get back to work with a good practice on Monday and hope to keep building momentum at Oxbow to start the week,” said Howard.
The Wildcats traveled to Oxbow on Tuesday, will welcome Harwood to town on Thursday, before finishing up the week with a trip to Randolph on Saturday. They will travel to Montpelier next Monday and host Thetford Academy next Tuesday in a pair of pivotal Capital League clashes.