The week started with a matchup against the toughest opponent Twin Valley has faced this season, and while they took a 4-3 loss to the rival Leland & Gray Rebels, coach Jim Burke said the loss was nothing for his boys to hang their heads about. “We hit a turning point right here,” said Burke. “Let it be a loss, but this was a big game. This team played nearly flawless ball. You look at overall performance of all nine boys and it was the best we’ve seen all season.”
Dal Nesbitt took the mound for all seven innings, throwing with confidence and poise in his first start. Nesbitt gave up eight hits to 28 batters, while his defense backed him up with textbook play all game. Jason Moore was a vacuum at first base, using his length to his advantage, while Baylee Crawford, Hunter Therrien, and Sam Molner kept the infield on lockdown. Zach Wilkins pitched the first four frames for the Rebels, who matched the Wildcats’ fielding prowess, giving up two runs and striking out five.
Kyle Murdock provided all three RBIs as designated hitter for the Wildcats, including a single into the outfield in the first inning that scored a lightning quick Molner from second base. After Molner and outfielder Dylan Johnson walked in the second inning, Moore reached on a single to load the bases. Murdock was able to knock Molner home again with a single, but Twin Valley would miss out on the opportunity to take the game away, stranding their three remaining base runners.
The Rebels’ bats would respond in the third inning with two runs and again in the fourth with a ground-rule double from Robbie Litchfield that just missed going over the left field fence.
The Rebels looked to close out the game by putting in ace hurler Drew Barnum, who wouldn’t allow a run in his first inning. But in came Murdock once again to knock home Johnson in the sixth, and cut the lead in half. Moore came close to tying the game, blasting a shot foul over the school’s rec. barn.
Nesbitt threw only 10 pitches in the top of the seventh inning, his defense providing a 1-2-3 effort. With one last chance to tie the game the Wildcats could not manage a baserunner as Barnum retired Therrien, Joel Gonzalez, and Cade Nesbitt in succession.
Corey Nystrom and Ryan Borgesson each went 2-3 for the Rebels. Murdock went 2-3 with three RBIs, and Molner went 1-1 with two walks and two runs for the Wildcats.
West Rutland 14 TV 5
Looking for revenge after a trip to West Rutland ended in defeat last week, the Wildcats tried to find some luck at home against the Golden Horde. Instead they took another loss, providing West Rutland with two of their season’s four wins within a week.
The Wildcats once again began a game in the driver’s seat, with starting pitcher Kyle Murdock throwing an average of 13 pitches in each of the first three innings, and retiring the first six batters he faced. Murdock would also come up with the team’s first RBI, sending Sam Molner home in the bottom of the second for a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Wildcats added to their lead with Hunter Therrien and Colin Lozito reaching on singles, and Dal Nesbitt sending Therrien home for a 2-0 lead.
However it was déjà vu all over again as the Wildcat errors started to pileup. Last week, the team doomed themselves on 14 errors against West Rutland. Errors have become a part of the game that have cost Twin Valley multiple losses this year. The Golden Horde would score three runs in the fourth on three errors by the Wildcats to take the lead. The Golden Horde’s bats had only begun to heat up as they began to pick apart Murdock in the top of the fifth.
Twin Valley would get their first two outs, but simply could not put the inning away as Jeremy Avoli ripped a two-run homer to left center field. Murdock was replaced by Molner who suffered a worse fate on the mound, giving up nine hits. Brandon Groh would also add a solo shot, while Twin Valley’s defense fell apart. The Wildcat infield had trouble corralling hits and charging slow rollers, while Dylan Johnson and Jason Moore’s communication breakdown brought a pop fly down fair between them in the shallow outfield. All in all, the Wildcats would commit five errors in the fifth. Moore would come in and get the last out.
Trailing 2-11, the Wildcats tried to struggle back, scoring three in the sixth inning, with Cade and Dal Nesbitt and Johnson scoring runs to bring the game within six.
But in the seventh the Golden Horde finished off the Wildcats, scoring three more runs for the 14-5 win. The Nesbitt brothers led the Wildcats, going 1-3 with a run each.
Groh pitched all seven innings for West Rutland, giving up eight hits, and striking out nine.
Twin Valley travels to Leland & Gray for a rematch on Friday at 4:30. “We’re going into the next two games with a positive attitude,” said coach Jim Burke. “Losing is infectious but so is attitude. It has to be stopped and they have to get back to being a team and picking each other up.”