By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier
The Thunderbird and Hornet baseball teams faced off Friday night in a rare, in-county playoff contest, both vying for a semi-final berth.
Mississquoi put two runs on the board in the first inning; the Hornets answered in the bottom of the first when Nik Sabrowski drove in Karson Fortin. Dylan Pattee drove in Sabrowski, the tying run, on a two-out single.
The Thunderbirds came back in the second, scoring on a hard hit ball by Robert Boucher.
The teams traded the lead over the next five innings, with MVU holding a precarious one-run lead as the Hornets came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
The Hornets tied the game early in the half inning. David Antillon scorched a no-out double, Pattee was intentionally walked, eventually reaching second while Antillon was caught stealing.
Chase Joyal, who noted he’s been struggling with his at-bats the last few games, came to the plate for the Hornets.
Avery Feeley, who threw all seven for the Thunderbirds, worked Joyal into a 2-2 count.
Joyal saw his pitch and launched a hard-hit ball down the third base line to score Pattee and earn Enosburg the 6-5 quarterfinal win.
“I knew I needed to do something; we had the winning run at second,” said Joyal, “My legs were shaking; I hit the ball and just hoped it wasn’t going to go foul. I rounded first, got to second, and I realized I’d just hit a walk-off!”
Pattee, who crossed the plate with the game-winning run, complimented Joyal’s at-bat.
“Chase kept fouling them off and fouling them off and then he hit that bomb to left field on the fence. I was halfway between second and third, and Coach told me I had to get on my horse!” said Pattee, laughing.
Enosburg head coach, Rodney Burns, who was doused with water during the interview, smiled as he recounted his team’s grit.
“We kept battling throughout the whole game; we’d go down a couple of runs, and then we’d come back up. The guys never gave up. We put the bat on the ball and scored two runs in the last inning,” said Enosburg head coach Rodney Burns. “Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better group. They’ve been amazing all season long.”
Nik Saborowski started the game for the Hornets on the mound, going six innings and allowing five hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Jacob Parent entered as a relief pitcher in the seventh.
Avery Feeley took the loss for the T-birds, however, pitched a strong game, going six and one-third innings, allowing eight hits and striking out five.
“Avery kept his pitch count low; he pitched with good rhythm. He’s been our rock on the mound this year for sure,” said MVU head coach Roy Sargent.
Offensively, for Enosburg, Dylan Pattee went 2-3 with an RBI and scored the winning run. David Antillon doubled, and Nik Saborowski added a hit and an RBI. Chase Joyal singled in the seventh for the walk-off hit. Shea Howrigan, Karson Fortin, and Brandon Parent each had hits.
Avery Feeley led the Thunderbirds with two hits. Bobby Boucher added a hit and an RBI for MVU, while Jackson Porter and Adam Rice each had one.
“It was nice to get the two runs in the first. We came ready to play and jumped right on them. The game was a battle the whole way through,” said Sargent. “I think both teams were mirror images of each other tonight.”
The Hornets will host the semi-final game on Tuesday at 4:30 pm in Enosburg.
“It all comes down to this–the team behind us, the fans here tonight, that’s what it’s all about. It’s amazing to have everybody behind us,” said Pattee.