Wildcats begin season with a tough loss, important win
by Jack Deming
Apr 24, 2014 | 1524 views | 0 0 comments | 83 83 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kyle Murdock on the mound during Twin Valley’s season opener at Woodstock. Looking on is first baseman Dal Nesbitt.
Kyle Murdock on the mound during Twin Valley’s season opener at Woodstock. Looking on is first baseman Dal Nesbitt.
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VERMONT- The Wildcats opened their baseball season with a loss to Woodstock on Monday, but picked up their offense late, carrying their play to West Rutland on Wednesday. Last year the Wildcats couldn’t buy a win against the Golden Horde, but on Wednesday they slowly but surely added up runs, claiming victory in their second game of the year, and improving their record to 1-1.

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Justin Hicks had a team-high two hits and one run scored for the Twin Valley Wildcats in their season opener at Woodstock, but a late arrival to the scoring party left the Wildcats with no time to recover, and an 0-1 record to begin their 2014 season.

Dal Nesbitt got the opening day start on the mound for the Wildcats, but the going got tough quickly as the Wasps forced 29 pitches and scored four runs. Dylan Kuhn and Connor Joyce each had an RBI single in the bottom of the frame for Woodstock, while Twin Valley struggled to get a hit through the first four innings. Nesbitt allowed one more run in the next three innings, while striking out four, walking three, and scattering six hits.

The Wasps were no kinder to reliever Kyle Murdock, who pitched the final two innings for the ‘Cats. Doug Avellino teed off on a hanging curveball in the sixth inning to add three more runs to the Wasps’ lead. It took until the seventh and final frame for the Wildcats to make noise on the scorecard, as Colin Lozito scored the second of his runs, while Sam Molner and Hicks added one apiece.

“We were rusty,” said Twin Valley manager Jim Burke. “If you take away that first inning, or that three-run homer in the sixth, it could have been a win if we had simply put the bat on the ball.”

The Wildcats only had four hits on the afternoon, but also tallied eight walks. Zach Cole threw five innings for the Wasps, striking out six and allowing two runs.

Half of Twin Valley’s strikeouts however were looking, something Burke says his boys will need to focus their work on. “You can’t be picky about the strike zone. If it’s close you have to swing and try to put the ball in play. Eight walks I’m happy with, but four hits in 32 at bats is not what I want.”

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WEST RUTLAND- Last season, the Twin Valley Wildcats were beaten twice by the West Rutland Golden Horde, outscored 28-11 in their two matchups. But on a cold, windy Wednesday afternoon, the ‘Cats made a statement, taking an early lead and holding it, for their first win of the season, 6-4.

Junior hurler Sam Molner got the start for Twin Valley, and developed an early knack for finding catcher Colin Lozito’s targets. In five innings, Molner would throw 110 pitches, fan four, and walk five while scattering seven hits. Twin Valley’s fielders had to deal with a good deal of wind, but manager Jim Burke was pleased with the resilience his team showed, especially that of his younger players in the infield, playing like seasoned vets. “West Rutland is a great team,” said Burke. “If we give them an inch they will pull things out. They beat us twice last year, so it was important what we did tonight.”

But West Rutland had no tricks up their sleeve as Molner shut them out for the first four innings. Meanwhile, Twin Valley managed 11 hits on the night as Kyle Murdock went 3-4 to keep his teammates moving on the bases. Lozito added a 3-3 performance, which included a walk, a double, two runs scored, and an RBI.

Freshman Ethan Fox knocked in a single for his first hit of the young season, and Craig Green and Justin Hicks added hits as well, while Cade Nesbitt scored two runs in his first game in the lineup. The Wildcats would strike out 10 times on the night, part of their game that Burke continues to stress needs work. “We need to lower the K’s to four or five and get more runs,” said Burke. “Every time you put it in play, you increase the chances for your opponent to make mistakes.”

Twin Valley tallied four runs in the first five innings, but the Golden Horde made the game interesting, cutting the lead in half in the bottom frame. Cade Nesbitt came in to relieve Molner in the sixth inning, giving up two more runs, but the Wildcats had scored a run of their own in the top of the inning and held a fragile 5-4 lead. The Wildcats reliever, and defense, would refuse to budge in the seventh while the offense garnered an insurance run and a 6-4 win.

“We had a rough first game, and if we don’t give away four in the first inning to Woodstock it’s a different game,” said Burke. “I look at my boys in this game and they fought. It’s early in the season, but I see where we’re heading and its positive.”

Joey Callahan pitched all six for the Horde and took the loss. Callahan had a more successful day at the plate, going 2-2 with a run scored, while Matt Bathalon went 3-3 with a run.

The Wildcats travel to Proctor today to take on the Phantoms at 4:30 pm.
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