Bulldogs bring hot-streak into finals
MANCHESTER >> It has been an impressive run for the Burr and Burton baseball team throughout the Division I playoffs so far.
The No. 5 seed Bulldogs are fresh off defeating No. 1 seed Bellows Free Academy - St. Albans, while defeating No. 4 seed Champlain Valley in the quarterfinals and winning their first round matchup against North Country in their route to their first Division I final in program history.
"It's been an amazing run for us these past couple of weeks," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki. "Beating good teams like CVU and BFA - St. Albans back-to-back I think really shows how good of a team we are and why we deserve to be here in the finals."
It's been a great first season at the helm for Lewicki.
The Bulldogs came out of the gates strong, starting the season 9-0 and ended up finishing the regular season with a 13-3 record, the second most wins by a BBA squad in the last 10 years.
Their run to the finals is only the third time in school history for any sport to play for a Division I state championship and their first finals appearance since 2013 in Division II.
This will also be Lewicki's second time coaching a team to the finals, taking the Arlington baseball team to the Division IV championship game back in 2008.
"Early on in the season our goal was to make it to the semifinals, but midway through after the hot start we had, our coaching staff got together and said we have the chance to go the distance," Lewicki said. "We had the talent to do so and we developed the makeup of a championship squad as we got further and further into the season."
All season, BBA has proven they can win games in a variety of ways.
They can win slugfest with their tremendous offense that averaged nine runs a game during the regular season, something that would not have been thought before the season started as hitting was looked to be the Bulldogs' biggest weakness.
That has not been the case though as BBA has been racking it at the plate all season, starting with their top hitter, Tyler Kraehling, who finished with a team high .448 batting average this season.
Right behind Kraehling is the Bulldogs' best overall player, junior Griff Stalcup, who batted .432 during the regular season and had a huge two-run double in the Bulldogs semifinal win against BFA St. Albans.
BBA has one more player batting over .400 this season in Daniel Hatheway, who is having a great freshman season, batting .404 on the year.
"Going into the season our biggest objective was to improve our hitting and it sure has worked," Lewicki said. "Up and down the lineup we are getting production from the guys, and kids coming off the bench in pinch-hitting situations have been key for us this season too. It's been fun to watch us swing the bats this season."
The Bulldogs have seven players batting over .300 for the season.
As for the Bulldogs arms, the top guys in the BBA rotation, Jonathon Iris and Jay McCoy, have done a great job all year giving BBA solid outings on the mound.
Iris pitched to a 2.50 ERA this season and McCoy has shown himself to be a big game pitcher, picking up wins against CVU and BFA St. Albans in the past two playoff games to get BBA to the finals.
Both guys Lewicki is confident in on the mound against St. Johnsbury in the finals.
Stalcup will also be in the mix in the later innings as he has done a great job all season closing out games for the Bulldogs.
After a stellar season and now having the chance to play for a state championship, Lewicki is more than proud of what his team has accomplished this season.
"I am really proud of everything the kids have accomplished this season," Lewicki said. "I told them whatever happens in the finals that they have proven how good of a team they are with the body of work they have shown this season. We have as good of a chance as St. Johnsbury to win this game and I'm very excited to see how things play out for us."
If the Bulldogs defeat St. Johnsbury, it will be the second state championship in program history. The first title coming in 2005.
BBA and St. Johnsbury will square off on Centennial field for the Division I state championship tonight at 7 p.m.
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