Patriots blank Otters on diamond


BENNINGTON -- Usually during a rain delay, a team's bats are cooled because of the stoppage.

It was the opposite on Friday afternoon for the Mount Anthony Union High School baseball team, who scored five runs in the fourth inning after the game was delayed as part of a 6-0 shutout over Otter Valley.

Taking a 1-0 lead after three innings, rain stopped the contest for about 10 minutes before the top of the fourth. The Otters went quietly in the inning, topped off by a wacky strikeout-throwout double play.

In the bottom half of the inning, Marcus Laflamme singled and both Ryan Latif and Ezra Caron were hit by pitches to load the bases with no one out. Austin Metcalfe hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead and leadoff hitter Pat Powers (2-for-4) scored Latif with a base hit to right.

Two batters later, Upright walked on four straight pitches to bring home another run. Then Carson Cushman, being aggressive, swung at the first pitch and lined a two-run single to center to give MAU a 6-0 advantage.

"I like to get hits, I hate getting out and hate striking out the most," said Cushman, who was 1-for-3 on the day. "I see a strike and swing for it and hope for the best."

With the outburst, starter Matt Upright cruised to a three-hit shutout and earned the win for the Patriots, only throwing 93 pitches in a complete-game effort.

"All his pitches worked, he was hitting his spots well," said MAU coach Walt Parmenter. "He gave up a couple of hits at the end, I think he got a little tired, but he did a nice job again."

In all, Upright walked two and struck out seven in his outing, holding the Otters hitless until the fifth inning, when freshman Brent Nickerson got his first varsity hit, a solid single to left.

"We played good defense but sometimes you got to play some offense and put the bat on the ball," said Otter Valley coach Tim Mitchell. "There were some good signs, a freshman got his first varsity hit today. But everything changes in the playoffs. We just need to string some hits together, we'll be fine."

MAU took the lead in the bottom of the first inning against Otter Valley starter Christopher McCullough as Shea Mooney knocked home Powers with a RBI single to third.

In the fourth, Mitchell lifted McCullough after 3 1/3 innings and put in senior William Claessens for the rest of the game. McCullough allowed four runs (three earned), walked one and struck out two. Claessens gave up two runs and struck out two as well.

"We've had some issue with some sore arms this year, so I took out [McCullough]," Mitchell said.

Upright also benefitted from a stout defense that only had one error on a wet day. Parmenter cited third baseman Austin Metcalfe as playing a major role in Upright's success on Friday.

"Austin had two nice slow roller plays, where he scooped and threw on the run," Parmenter said. "You need to field those on the run and he did, he's improved a lot on his defense."

With their second win in a row, MAU is 6-7 and finishes the regular season next week with games against Hartford on Tuesday and senior day on Thursday against Brattleboro.

"We're hoping to end the season on a high and keep it going toward the playoffs," Cushman said.

"We're getting momentum back, it'd be nice to go into playoffs with that," Parmenter said. "We have to stay on track and keep plugging away."


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