SWANTON — Missisquoi senior ace Richard Walker struck out 14 as the T-Birds slipped past the Milton Yellowjackets 6-3 on a sunny yet cool afternoon last Tuesday.
Walker gave up five hits and walked two in a complete-game victory.
After Walker fanned the side in the top of the first inning, the T-Birds struck in the bottom half thanks to a misplayed deep fly ball off the bat of sophomore Adam Rice. Cayden Theberge walked on four pitches and Rice followed with a long fly ball to left that went for a three-base error, bringing in the first run of the game.
Milton answered right back after Ryan Austin jumped on a first-pitch fastball and ripped it to the center-field fence for a standup double. Walker struck out the next batter on three pitches before Ian Hrynyszyn laced a soft single to left, knocking in Austin to knot the game at one.
Walker recorded his fifth and sixth strikeouts to end the inning.
Hunter Fagga hit a long fly ball to right, but Milton’s Isaiah Foss made a nice running catch for the out. Freshman Avery Feeley, starting at first since Milton has no JV team, worked a full-count walk. Another freshman callup, Kyle Gilbert, hit the second pitch he saw and ripped it to the left-center fence for a double as Feeley moved to third. Milton third baseman Jacob Laware alertly tagged Feeley out when he momentarily took his foot off the bag, but yet another freshman, Colby Theberge, put runners at the corners with a soft single.
Ian Walsh, who would later be robbed of extra-base hits by two outstanding defensive plays from Yellowjacket center fielder Austin, ripped a two-run double to right-center to put the T-Birds in front, 3-1.
Tyler Farrow led off Milton’s third with a walk, and after Walker induced a comebacker and got his seventh strikeout, Andrew Harvey knocked in Milton’s second run of the game with a two-out single to left.
MVU threatened again when Rice roped a single and Riley Wilkin was hit by a pitch, but Jordan Deep got the next two batters out on routine fly outs.
Walker had his second 1-2-3 inning, getting his eighth and ninth strikeouts, and Deep worked around a leadoff walk to have an easy fourth himself. Walker notched his third 1-2-3 inning, his only frame without a strikeout, and in the bottom of the fifth, Missisquoi added to its lead.
Walker led off with a walk, stole second and moved up to third on a wild pitch. One out later, Wilkin drilled the first pitch for an RBI, giving MVU a 4-2 lead.
In the sixth, Walker worked around a single from Deep to get strikeouts number 10 and 11 before the Thunderbirds gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom half.
Gilbert and Theberge led off with back-to-back singles, although Gilbert hesitated thinking Theberge’s ball would be caught and was thrown out at second. Walsh followed with a monster shot to center, only to see Austin make an outstanding full-sprint grab near the fence for the second out. Senior Cayden Theberge laced a single to left, and Walker smashed a deep, two-run double to right-center to put his team in front 6-2.
Down to their last outs and needing four runs to tie the game, the Yellowjackets got loud, cheering their teammates on with every pitch. Hrynyszyn led off with a sharp single and stole second, then caught the T-Birds napping and, on the toss back to Walker, sprinted over to third before scoring on a wild pitch, making it 6-3.
Cam Bushey worked a full-count walk and promptly stole second.
But with the Milton bench roaring, Walker settled down and blew a third strike past the next three batters to end the game.
MVU had nine hits, including three doubles, while Milton collected five. Walker finished with 114 pitches, 14 strikeouts, five hits (four singles and a double) and two walks. Deep threw just 86 pitches, giving up nine hits, including three doubles, walked four, hit one batter and struck out one.
Gilbert and Colby Theberge each had two of Missisquoi’s hits, while Austin and Hrynyszyn had two hits apiece for Milton.