CVU win streak interrupted by South Burlington — again

A loss at South Burlington knocked the previously unbeaten Champlain Valley Union down to 6-1, but it didn’t seem to blur their focus on reaching the postseason ranked No. 1.

Despite the loss, CVU remained at the top of the Division 1 rankings, while the Redhawks continued to add wins.
After that loss, the team faced five opponents and just one away game, taking all those contests, some by blowout margins and a couple by nail-biting margins to improve to a 12-1 record.

Then, with the postseason just over the horizon, on this Tuesday, May 28, the Redhawks had a chance to even the season series in a rematch at home against the South Burlington Wolves, but the outcome was not what was wanted. The Wolves took Tuesday’s game 6-0.

The team had been looking forward to the test, hoping having a second go against South Burlington would set them up nicely for the postseason.

Photo by Judy Stroh. 
Travis Stroh slides under the tag at Rutland on Saturday, May 25, a 5-2 Champlain Valley win.
Photo by Judy Stroh
Travis Stroh slides under the tag at Rutland on Saturday, May 25, a 5-2 Champlain Valley win.

However, don’t think the setback will necessarily impact the team’s drive towards repeating as state champion. As coach Nicky Elderton said, “Our whole mentality this year, and every year, is one game at a time.”

CVU 3, Mt. Mansfield 2
On Wednesday, May 15, Mt. Mansfield came to call and brought with them a tenacity that tested the Redhawks’ mettle in a closely contested pitching duel.

Easton Randall pitched a complete game for the Cougars but took the loss. He allowed three hits and runs, only one of which was earned, while striking out four and walking one.

In his six innings, Rickert remained strong on the mound, giving up six hits that led to two runs, while striking out seven and walking only one.

In the seventh, Russell Willoughby came on in relief and sat down the minimum, facing three batters and notching three outs.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard first when Garrett Carter hit a sacrifice grounder to bring in Caleb Murphy in the third inning.

Mt. Mansfield added to its lead in the top of the fourth when Murphy hit a line-drive double to center field that scored Carter Tosch from second.

Although Travis Stroh it into a double play in the fifth, Declan Cummings scored to put the Redhawks up 3-2 for the winning margin.

Stephen Rickert pitched six innings, giving up six hits but only two runs. He registered six strikeouts against one walk.

CVU 10, Bellows Free Academy 0
The Redhawks used a big fourth inning at home on Thursday, May 16, to effectively put Bellows Free Academy away, scoring six runs when the team was already up 3-0.

Riley McDade got the scoring onslaught going in the fourth when he hit a sacrifice grounder that scored Stroh from third.

With two outs, Declan Cummings hit a hard ground ball to left that scored John Deyo and Willoughy, putting CVU up 6-0.

Lander Magoon hit a hard grounder of his own to center that scored Calvin Steele and Cummings. Mitchell Niarchos hit a grounder that led to a Bobwhite error, scoring Magoon and putting the Redhawks ahead 9-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Noah Musgrave hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Cummings from third and ensured the end of the game after six innings via the mercy rule with the Redhawks ahead 10-0.

Steele started the scoring in the bottom of the first, homering in CVU’s first at bat of the game. Cummings hit a sacrifice fly to score Willoughby with two outs in the first, putting CVU ahead 2-0.

Stroh, Deyo and Willoughby led the Redhawks offensively, each getting two hits in three trips to the plate and scoring two runs.

CVU 6, Essex 5
The Redhawks’ contest at home against Essex on Saturday, May 18, was a completely different affair than its shut-out romp two days earlier.

With the game tied at 5-all after eight innings, Aaron LaRose singled to right field, scoring Cummings and giving the Redhawks a 6-5 walk-off win.

CVU scored first in the first when Deyo singled to score Stroh. The Redhawks added to their early lead when Willoughby hit a ground ball and reached second on a Hornets’ error to put the team ahead 2-0.

Essex scored in the top of the second inning on a hard grounder to center field that scored one.

The Redhawks added two more runs in the bottom of the second on a Stroh double that scored LaRose and a Deyo sacrifice grounder that scored Stroh.

The Hornets added another run in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth to pull ahead 5-4, but the Redhawks evened it up at 5-all when a McDade grounder scored Deyo.

Elise Berger put in five innings on the mound, giving up six hits and two runs. Willoughby pitched one inning with three hits and three runs. Stroh came on for the final two innings and pitched admirably, giving up no runs and no hits and earning the win for the Redhawks.

CVU 13, Rice 3
Before the home game on Thursday, May 23, coaches and players wore shirts that said “Brave,” and assistant coach Sam Fontaine gave an inspirational message from the mound, saying that for the past six years one of CVU’s games has been categorized as an Awareness Game.

In October of 2018, a CVU student and baseball player took his own life. In the aftermath of that tragedy his parents founded Project HoePpnEr to share the story of their son Paul Hoepner, raise awareness of teen suicide and encourage teens to say, “I need help.”

Fontaine encouraged those gathered at the game to check in on others and have the courage to have difficult conversations. The purpose of wearing the shirts was intended as a step toward solving the pandemic of teen suicide and raising awareness of mental health, he said, thanking Rice for participating in the effort.

In the game, the Redhawks notched their second victory over the Green Knights, having beaten Rice 8-4 in an away game at the beginning of the season.

CVU took an even more decisive win in this game that began with the Redhawks scoring eight runs in the first inning.

Deyo started the scoring by hitting a single that brought home Stroh. Willoughby scored on a triple by McDade. Then, McDade scored on a ground out by Rickert.

With two outs, the Redhawks added a fourth run when Steele scored off a Cummings double. A Rice error on a LaRose grounder put him on base and scored Cummings.

CVU went up 7-1 on a Deyo single to center field that scored Niarchos and LaRose.

After a Rice pitching change, CVU added an eighth run when Willoughby knocked in Stroh.

The game was called by the mercy rule after five innings with CVU ahead 13-3.

CVU 5, Rutland 2
This past Saturday, May 25, Champlain Valley traveled to Rutland and came away with its twelfth win of the season.

CVU got on the board in the first when McDade hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Deyo.
Rutland knotted it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a sacrifice grounder.

The Redhawks retook the lead for good in the top of the fifth when Deyo hit a drive to center field that resulted in a Rutland error, scoring Stroh. A Willoughby home run gave CVU two more runs to make the score 4-1.

The Redhawks added another run in the sixth, when Stroh knocked in Cummings.

Although Rutland added a run in the bottom of the sixth, that was all the scoring in the game, as the score stood at 5-2 until the final out.

LaRose took the win for the Redhawks on the mound, giving up two hits and one run, while striking out five and walking none over five inings. Elise Berger pitched the final two innings for the save, giving up four hits and one run.

South Burlington 6, CVU 0
The Wolves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Their first three hitters hit singles with the third single by Lucas Van Mullen scoring Andre Bouffard from second.

With one out, Brady Havers scored from third on a passed ball.

In the top of the fifth the Wolves added four more.

With one out, Sam Mazza-Bergeron hit a solo homer to center field.

Isaac Hungerford added another, scoring on James Chagnon’s drive to center field.

A pair of singles scored Chagnon and Ryan Carpenter to put South Burlington up 6-0, and that was where the score stood for the rest of the game.

Starting pitcher Rickert took the loss for the Redhawks. Van Mullen earned the win for the Wolves.