CVU ends regular season No. 1 with first-round bye

Entering the playoffs, it’s home sweet home for the Champlain Valley Union High baseball team.

The team started the season with one of its goals to enter the playoffs ranked No. 1, so they would hold home-field advantage. Mission accomplished.

After stumbling and losing two games in a row (to South Burlington and Mount Mansfield), the Redhawks regained their balance and won out the rest of the regular season, ending with an 11-2 record.

Another advantage of the high seed is that it came with a first-round bye in the single-game elimination playoff tournament.

Photo by Al FreyCalvin Steele knocked in a go-ahead single in the sixth inning, setting up an 8-5 win over Essex High on May 20.
Photo by Al Frey
Calvin Steele knocked in a go-ahead single in the sixth inning, setting up an 8-5 win over Essex High on May 20.

The first game of the Redhawks’ postseason will be a quarterfinal match at CVU at 4:30 p.m., this Friday, June 2, against Colchester. Colchester defeated St. Johnsbury 7-1 in a first-round game on Tuesday.

“We have shown throughout the season that we deserve to be there in the end, by playing the hardest schedule,” assistant coach Samuel Fontaine said. “However, we know that it will not be given to us, as there are many great teams out there.”

With limited varsity experience and not much time playing together when the season started, Fontaine said the team had to discover its identity. The players have proven to be hard working and found mettle.

“Many believe that at CVU, it is a championship-or-bust mentality, which is simply not true,” he said, adding the program “is about the positive experience for the fans, the coaches, and most importantly, the student-athletes. Success is just an added bonus.”

CVU 5, BFA-St. Albans 1
On Thursday, May 25, CVU ended its regular season with a win at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans.

Stephen Rickert picked up the win for the Redhawks, pitching five innings. He gave up a walk and three hits, while striking out seven.

Russ Willoughby led the scoring for CVU, going 1-for-3 at the plate with a double and and an RBI.

CVU 7, Colchester 6
The Redhawks celebrated Senior Day with a squeaker win over Colchester on May 23 at CVU.

Tied at 6-all in the seventh inning, CVU won the game on a walk-off error by the Champs.

Elise Berger was credited with the win after an inning of relief pitching.

Robbie Fragola led the scoring for CVU with two RBIs. Chase Whitman and Malaki Callahan each had an RBI.

The Redhawks got on the board first with two runs in the second inning, but Colchester pulled in front with four runs in the third and added to their lead with two more in the sixth to go up 6-2.

CVU knotted things up with four runs in the sixth.
The graduating seniors honored at this game were Fragola, Jason Douglas, Zach Santos, Colby Galipeau, Chase Whitman, Chris Robinson, Asa Roberts, Lewis Kerest, Jack Richburg, Kyle Tivnan, Evan Statton and Alex Provost.

CVU 8, Essex 5
The Redhawks added to their win total on May 20 with an 8-5 defeat of Essex on the Hornets’ home field in a win that was also undecided until late in the game.

Rickert went 1-for-2 at the plate with a single, which brought in the game-tying run in the fifth inning.

Calvin Steele put the Redhawks ahead for good with an RBI single in the sixth.

Jack Richburg tossed six innings for the win, giving up five hits, five errors and six walks to go with three strikeouts.

Berger came on for one inning of relief in the seventh inning and sealed the win, giving up a hit but striking out two.

CVU 4, Rice 3
The Redhawks began a stretch of three close, late-inning wins with an eight-inning victory over Rice 4-3 at CVU on May 18.

Rickert performed the heroics for CVU with a game-winning RBI single in the eighth for the walk-off win.

Travis Stroh led at the plate and on the mound, knocking in two RBI and claiming the win with two innings of relief pitching. Stroh was 2-for-3 at the plate with a triple.