With the last game of the season on the horizon, the 12-1 Otter Valley baseball team squeaked by Hartford on Wednesday, 4-3, suffered its first loss of the season this past Friday to Brattleboro, 13-3, and handily beat Burr & Burton, 6-2.
Finishing the season unbeaten would have been nice, but coach Michael Howe said it’s not something they focused on.
“We started a new season last week,” he said. “We’re focused on winning this game, this pitch, this at-bat. We’re 0-0 every time we step on the field.”
The 10-0 Otter squad took the field on Wednesday, May 15, against a 3-5 Hartford team. Senior Kollin Bissette was on the mound as the Otters looked to continue their winning ways.
Bissette allowed two runs on three hits with four walks in three and a third innings. Howe brought senior Josh Beayon on in relief with one out in the fourth after Bissette loaded the bases following a single and hitting two consecutive batters. Beayon struck out the first batter for the second out, but allowed a single, which scored a run before striking out the next Hartford batter.
“We threw strikes when we had to,” Howe said. “It had been a week since we last played and we had to battle out there.”
Beayon finished the game on the mound, striking out seven. Sophomore Alex Polli led the team offensively, going 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
“Alex getting those hits is nice,” Howe said, but admitted Polli’s best contribution for the team is his work behind the plate as catcher. “He calls a really good game. He knew coming into the season it was going to be a big year for him, with what we were going to ask him to do. The way he is always mentally prepared behind the plate is big for us.”
Beayon, senior Marcus McCullough and junior Logan Trombley also recorded RBIs as the Otters squeaked by in a close contest, 4-3.
“I think because of their record, we underestimated them a little,” Howe said after the game, “but that’s a good team over there.”
Going into the weekend 11-0 with only five games remaining, the Otters had their work cut out for them with back-to-back games against very difficult Division I opponents. They faced 8-4 Brattleboro on the road on Friday and were at home against 9-2 Burr and Burton Academy on Saturday.
On Friday, the Otters were held to only three runs on three hits as they found themselves in the loss column for the first time this season, 13-3. Brattleboro’s pitching held the Otters bats in check.
Patrick McKeighan took the loss with Nate Hudson coming on in relief. Beayon, Bissette and Hudson were the only Otters with hits in the game.
Back in action on Saturday, the Otters sent Beayon to the mound against Burr and Burton. After allowing two runs in the first, Beayon settled down and shut the Bulldogs down. The Otters went on to win the game by a score of 6-2. The 12-1 Otters are in first place in Division II and will look to stay that way. They have a home and away series with second place Fair Haven on Wednesday and Thursday. Wins in those contests would take OV into the playoffs as the number one seed.