Lone stumble, but Redhawks baseball still ranked No. 1

The Champlain Valley Redhawks are still soaring through the season. Despite one setback against South Burlington, the 7-1 team is still ranked No. 1, just above No. 2 Mount Anthony (11-0).

Even with the loss, head baseball coach Nicky Elderton is liking how things are progressing for his team.

After knocking off Burlington in a home game this past Saturday, May 11, Elderton wasn’t perturbed by the lone blemish on the Redhawks’ season. In his view the loss may be a good thing.

“You learn more from your losses than you do from the wins,” the coach said. And he was pleased how his team had played at South Burlington. The Redhawks were in the game until the end.

Photo by Judy Stoh Elise Berger’s curve has had good movement so far this year. She has been placing the ball well, not giving batters many chances to hit.

A couple of plays here and there, and the result could have been different. Elderton is confident of his players’ ability to learn from their mistakes.

CVU 8, Mt. Mansfield 1
The Redhawks traveled to Mt. Mansfield for a tilt on May 2.

Russell Willoughby helped put CVU on the board in the first inning when he singled home Travis Stroh, but Mt. Mansfield responded in the bottom of the first inning when a drive to center field brought a run home and tied the game up at 1-all.

The Redhawks added runs in the third and sixth innings to go up 3-1 when first Riley McDade and then Aaron LaRose scored off Cougar errors.

In the seventh inning, CVU’s offense came alive, in part helped by the Redhawks’ aggressive base running. With no outs, Stephen Rickert and Orion Yates pulled off a double steal and then both scored on a Mount Mansfield error.

Travis Stroh hit a hard ground ball for a triple that resulted in another Mount Mansfield error scoring LaRose and putting the Redhawks comfortably ahead at 6-1.

Stroh added a run when he scored on a ground out by McDade.

Willoughby added a run on a wild pitch to make it 8-1. The offense was shared pretty equitably, with six different players scoring for CVU.

CVU 4, Essex 0
It was another away game for CVU on Saturday, May 4. This is something the Redhawks seem OK with, since at this point they had played only one game at home.

Willoughby knocked in Stroh in the first and again in the third inning to put the Redhawks in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 lead.

A Mitchell Niarchos’ bunt scored Calvin Steele to make the score 3-0 in the fourth.

Willoughby hit a sacrifice grounder in the seventh that scored Elise Berger for the final score of 4-0.

Rickert pitched seven innings of shutout ball, giving up four hits, walking one and striking out eight.

South Burlington 7, CVU 1
Stroh put the Redhawks on the board first on Tuesday, May 7, with a solo home run to centerfield.

A CVU error helped the Wolves tie the game up at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first inning.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, South Burlington took a 3-1 lead, an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game.

The Wolves added four runs in the fifth off a homer and a drive to center that drove in two runs.

South Burlington’s Nick Kelly earned the win, pitching a complete game and only giving up five hits. LaRose took the loss for CVU with four and one-third innings on the mound, giving up all the runs and seven hits, while striking out five and walking two.

Berger pitched an inning and two-thirds, giving up one hit, while striking out three.

CVU 6, Burlington 0
No residue from the previous South Burlington loss was evident four days later when Champlain Valley got back on the winning track, defeating the Seahorses, this past Saturday, May 11.

The Redhawks jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. Both Willoughby and Berger hit sacrifice flies in the initial frame, both of which knocked in two runs apiece.

In the bottom of the second inning, Steele hit a double that drove in McDade and Stroh and put the Redhawks ahead 6-0.

Berger gave up three walks the first inning.

“The first inning was a little rough but then I settled down,” Berger said after the game, a masterful understatement.

She didn’t walk another batter and finished with five innings of one-hit ball, striking out nine.

Nunziata came on for two innings of relief pitching. The freshman acquitted himself in style, walking one, striking out three and giving up no hits.

The Redhawks were set to face Mt. Mansfield at home in Hinesburg 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a rematch of the game CVU won a week earlier away. The results of that game were not ready by press time.

Berger was also not alarmed by the loss at South Burlington, regarding it as a checkpoint for the team and looking forward to the rematch, the Redhawks’ penultimate game of the regular season, this time at CVU.

“That’ll be a good time for another checkpoint, to see how we’ve progressed,” she said.