by Ken Brown
NORTHFIELD – The Hardwick Senior Babe Ruth Team started their summer off in style with a road win against Northfield, before falling to a pair of tough teams in Franklin County and Newport to end their week.
Jadon Baker earned the win with three-plus innings of work and Andrew Menard closed it out for the save as Hardwick held off Northfield 6-4 last Tuesday. The visitors raced out to a 5-0 lead after the first inning behind the offense of Lyle Rooney and held off a late rally by Northfield to escape with the win. Craftsbury’s Owen Skorstad was the only freshman starter for Hazen Union’s varsity team this past spring and head coach Ivan Menard has been impressed with what he’s seen this summer.
“Owen is just a great kid and a good all-around ballplayer. He’s got a pretty good arm and I wanted to give him a chance to pitch. He approached it like an ace and showed so much composure out there. This is summer ball, so we want to give everyone a chance to get out there and get experience against some really good competition. Steven Werner from Stannard is such a great athlete already and Grayson McNaughten from Craftsbury and Jake Hayden from Hazen are young players who are going to develop a lot around these guys this summer. Lyle, Jadon, James Montgomery, and Tyler Rivard have been great for these younger guys in giving up playing time and allowing them to learn and they’re just class act kids,” said Menard.
Hardwick dropped their home opener 10-5 on Thursday against a Franklin County team that ran its record to 4-0 on the season. They draw their team from some powerhouse programs in Rice, Essex, Fairfax, and St. Albans. Menard is giving Rooney’s sore elbow some rest early on in the season and he liked how his team competed against a very good baseball team. Rain moved their road match-up against Newport to Sunday as Hardwick fell in the late innings 3-2. Baker put another solid start together on the mound for Hardwick, but some late miscues cost them late.
“I loved how the guys stuck with a team like Franklin County for most of the game. We are still experimenting with lineups and positions early on in the season, but we want to put some younger players in pressure situations and allow them to feel what it’s like. The crowd we got for a summer baseball game was just awesome and the people who supported that special Hazen team the last few years are still traveling to watch them play. Mike Baker and Rob Montgomery are helping me coach this team and support from so many in the community like Scott Menard has been so helpful. My wife, Brenda, has been unbelievable behind the scenes with getting everything we need in uniforms and you name it, in a very short window. We’ve all watched our kids grow up through Little League and now high school together and now to be able to coach my son Andrew is the highlight for me as a father. This whole group of kids are class acts and I’m just honored to get to coach them,” said Menard.
Hardwick tackles another challenging week as they welcomed Winooski to town on Tuesday, travel to St. Johnsbury on Thursday, and will stay on the road on Saturday for a rematch with Franklin County.