Manchester Union Underground is a young team in more than one way.
Not only is the 2021 season it’s first competing in Vermont American Legion Baseball; it’s roster features many young players.
That youth showed itself — as its had a tendency’s to do all summer — in the form of defensive errors and mental lapses in the teams 8-5 loss to South Burlington on Saturday morning, knocking Manchester out of the Legion tournament. They totaled five errors in the loss.
Manchester jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, knocking four hits off South Burlington starter Mason Klesch and chasing him from the game after only one inning of work.
South Burlington got two runs back in the third off Manchester pitcher Trevor Greene.
Trailing by one in the bottom of the fourth, South Burlington exploded for four runs as Manchester committed four errors in that half inning alone, giving the Wildcats a lead that they’d hold on to for the remainder of the contest. Greene was pulled with two outs for Will Addington, who allowed a run before throwing a pitch as he was called for a balk with the bases loaded. Addington got out of the jam by inducing a groundball out.
Manchester manager Eddie Lewicki knows errors have plagued his team all season long.
“What hurt us all year and did in this game (too), were bunt coverages, simple throws to bases — the basics,” Lewicki said. “I don’t think what they did beat us, I think we really kind of beat ourselves.”
Cooper Smith pitched really well in his relief appearance for the Wildcats.
Smith allowed two runs, both in the sixth inning as Manchester put together a mini-run and found themselves within one run.
The Wildcats responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to regain the three-run lead at 8-5.
Manchester ends its inaugural season with a 12-9 record and one win in tournament play, defeating Rutland in the opening round the losers bracket.
“For a first year team, first year organization that’s a very successful year,” Lewicki said. “Do I think that we could have done better in this tournament? 100 percent; I told the guys that going forward we need to start getting better at the simple things.”
Lewicki says the future is bright for his team, who will only age-out Joey McCoy. He believes if they can shore up the fundamentals, Manchester will be a title contender next summer.
“If we can clean that stuff up, we can be anybody,” Lewicki said. With it being a young group, they’re hungry to be better. I think going forward we’ll be very good.”