Burr and Burton baseball rides wave to first D-I title

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MANCHESTER — In 2016, the Burr and Burton baseball got all the way to the Division I championship game for the first time, falling 3-1 against St. Johnsbury.

Coming into 2017, the Bulldogs were ready to avenge that loss.

They did that and so much more.

The senior-laden group outscored opponents 18-4 in the first three rounds of the tournament before breaking a 50-year-old run record in the finale to score the team's first-ever Division I title over Essex.

It was the Bulldogs' first championship in baseball since 2005, and their 17 wins set a single-season school record.

"To make it back to the finals and win it all this year, is a huge accomplishment and I couldn't be prouder of this team," coach Ed Lewicki said after the title game victory. "I love this team. This group of guys are truly a team and they stick together through and through. Just couldn't be happier for them."

The championship was the result of a complete effort in every phase of the game.

At the plate, BBA scored more than 11 runs a game, including the record 18 in the title game against the Hornets. They pitched extremely well, as a staff led by Griff Stalcup and Jay McCoy allowed fewer than three runs a game (46 runs in 19 games). Defensively, the Bulldogs made few errors, forcing teams to beat them as opposed to beating themselves with mistakes.

Dazzling performances came from all over the lineup, regardless of grade in school.

Stalcup, a senior, scored the win in the championship game, but guys like Tyler Kraehling and Daniel Hatheway, among many others, made big plays to propel the Bulldogs.

And they had to get through a close game in the semifinals against a Burlington Seahorse squad ripe for the upset. Burlington took an early lead, BBA tied it. Burlington grabbed the lead again, and BBA tied it. Then Sam Cottrell scored on an error as the eventual game-winning run for a 3-2 victory that pushed them to the title game.

Coming into 2018, Lewicki and the Bulldogs are ready to challenge, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in the same spot — celebrating another baseball crown — in June.

Story ran on June 11, 2017

BURLINGTON — A year after suffering a defeat in the Division I finals, the Burr and Burton baseball team rose to the top of the mountain of Saturday night, winning its first Division I state championship in dominating setting fashion. The No. 2 seeded Bulldogs racked up 17 hits and scored a Division I finals record 18 runs in their 18-8 thrashing over No. 1 seed Essex, helping the become the first boys sports program to win a Division I championship in the school's history.

"I knew that if we made it back to the championship game that there was no way we're going to lose, and 364 days later, we're standing here as state champions," said BBA senior Griff Stalcup after Saturday's game. "Our offense was insanely [strong]. We just continued to get hits and score runs. You couldn't ask more for a better offensive performance than that."

The Bulldog offense got rolling early, scoring a run in the first inning and Stalcup led a 4-run charge in the second with a RBI single. That was followed by a 2-run single by Tyler Kraehling and a RBI hit by Daniel Hatheway to put BBA up 5-0.

Essex responded though in the bottom half of the inning, capitalizing on some Bulldog miscues for two runs to cut the BBA lead to three.

The Hornets then made it a one-run game when Tyler Roberge smacked a double to the gap in left center, scoring a pair before Roberge was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple to make it 5-4.

Both BBA and Essex traded runs in the third to give the Bulldogs a 6-5 lead into the fourth inning, where the BBA bats exploded in a big way.

Junior Sam Cottrell got it started with a bloop single to right field that scored Hatheway to extend the lead to 7-5.

The Bulldogs' lead rose to three when an error by the Essex shortstop on a hard hit ball by catcher Will Palmer led to Chandler Pouk scoring all the way from second base. Walks then became a factor as Essex's third pitcher of the night, Grady Cram, had issues finding the strike zone, walking James Reilly to load the bases for the Bulldogs and then walking both Stalcup and Jay McCoy to usher in two BBA runs, making it 10-5.

This all set up the biggest hit of the night when Kraehling smacked a bases clearing triple down the right field line that broke open the game and extended the Bulldogs' lead to 13-5.

"[It] felt great to come through there in that situation for the team," Kraehling said. "Our team has just kept battling and not giving up all year long. It's so fun to be a part of this team and it feels great that we got redemption by winning it all this season."

Kraehling finished with three hits and a game-high five RBI.

Pitching with an eight-run cushion, Stalcup calmed down on the mound. The senior, who hadn't pitched in a few weeks because of an injury, went six hard fought innings on the mound to get the win, with only two of his seven runs earned.

"Griff was really sharp out there and pitched well for us, we just didn't make the plays behind him in the field," said BBA coach Ed Lewicki. "Very uncharacteristic of us to make a lot of mistakes in the field, but Griff did a good job working around them and gave us a chance to win."

Leading 13-7 going into the sixth inning, the Bulldogs tacked on some insurance. Pouk extended the lead with a two-out RBI single and then in the top of the seventh, scored four more times to break a 51-year-old record for scoring in the Division I final with 18 runs.

The old record was 17 set by Brattleboro in 1966. The record-breaking hit was a two-run single from Hatheway with the bases loaded.

Many of the Bulldog hitters had big days, including Reilly, who reached base five times with two RBI and four runs scored in his final high school game.

Hatheway added three RBI and a team-high four hits in the win as the Bulldogs scored at least a run in every inning except the fifth.

Cottrell closed things out in the bottom of the seventh, getting Garrett Somerset to fly to center. Reilly made the catch to help the Bulldogs celebrate their first state championship since 2005.

"Our goal all season long was to make it back to the finals and win the championship this season, and it feels fantastic to achieve that." Reilly said. "This is a very special team. We have battled together all season through some tough games to get back the finals and to win this championship with this group of guys, is great."

The Bulldogs finish the season 17-2, the most wins in a single season in the program's history. Enjoying the moment as he watched his team celebrate its championship victory, Lewicki couldn't be more prouder of what his team accomplished.

"To make it back to the finals and win it all this year, is a huge accomplishment and I couldn't be prouder of this team," Lewicki said. "I love this team. This group of guys are truly a team and they stick together through and through. Just couldn't be happier for them."


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