While Twin Valley finished the week maintaining a winning record of 4-3, their trouble spots have begun to show. Inconsistency in fielding has often led to too many pitches by too many pitchers, and in their match with West Rutland this week, 14 errors. Each game saw at least one high-scoring inning by their opponent, and coach Jim Burke says that one inning is often a killer.
“We have to stop with the funky innings,” said Burke.
In their home opener on Thursday against Black River, Sam Molner began the game with a solid first three innings, allowing one run and recording four strikeouts. Twin Valley’s bats would back him up, with eight runs in the first inning, including two RBIs from Jason Moore. Molner’s no-hit bid was broken up in a game-changing fourth inning when Black River’s Nick Ciufo hit a grand slam over the head of right fielder Patrick Eilers.
Over the next three innings, the Wildcats would shut down the Presidents’ offense, stranding base runners in the last three innings and extending their lead to 14-6, with an RBI by Molner to help ease the hurt from the grand slam, as well as contributions from Dal Nesbitt, Joel Gonzalez, and Hunter Therrien.
Moore and Eilers would relieve Molner for the last 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, seven walks, and three strikeouts. Eilers allowed three runs in the bottom of inning seven, but with the bases loaded, was able to strike out the last Black River batter.
Dal Nesbitt finished the game 3-4 with two RBIs and one run, while Moore and Therrien combined for five of Twin Valley’s runs. Ciufo went 2-3 with two walks and four RBIs for the Presidents.
Poultney 14, TV 3
The Wildcats traveled to Poultney on Saturday, and according to Burke, played with a Saturday attitude. It was a rough start for freshman hurler Kyle Murdock who was rocked for nine hits and five runs in the first 3 1/3 innings. The meat of Twin Valley’s batting order had their worst outing of the season with Sam Molner, the Nesbitt brothers, and Jason Moore combining for a 1-15 batting line.
The first inning would set the tone offensively for the Wildcats as Hunter Therrien was thrown out at third while cheating off the bag on a Molner bunt attempt, ending the inning. Twin Valley had only four hits and four walks on the day, with utility man Dylan Johnson going 2-3.
Craig Green provided a solid relief effort, allowing only four hits, but Poultney was able to capitalize on defensive mistakes all over the field by the Wildcats
West Rutland 14, TV 6
Trying to shake their second loss of the year, the Wildcats traveled to West Rutland on Monday, and fared no better against the Golden Horde, with a late rally falling short and a season-high 14 errors. The Golden Horde jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, while their pitcher Joe Callahan retired the first three Wildcat batters.
Sam Molner had a rough day on the mound for Twin Valley, going 3 1/3 with no strikeouts, five walks, and allowing 12 hits.
The offense fared no better, with Twin Valley’s bats collecting only nine hits in 30 at-bats, while recording seven K’s, and no walks. Dylan Johnson continued his solid work at the plate, providing the Wildcats with two hits and a run, while catcher Colin Lozito recorded two runs, and Cade Nesbitt drove home two.
Dal Nesbitt came in to relief pitch in the fourth and fifth innings, but with Twin Valley edging closer to their 7-6 lead in the fifth, West Rutland broke away with three runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to put the game out of reach. The Golden Horde’s relief pitcher Jeremy Avoli pitched the last three innings brilliantly, throwing 29 pitches and retiring three straight in each inning, including Molner, who was caught looking on the last pitch of the game.
While able to score six runs, the Wildcats’ defense spelled doom as the infield and outfield struggled to field easy plays. Lozito was 2-3 on the day with two runs scored and Cade Nesbitt drove home two.
TV 19, Proctor 10
Twin Valley shook off their first back-to-back losses of the season with a win over Proctor Thursday night, which once again featured a stressful inning for Twin Valley’s coaching staff.
With Jason Moore starting on the mound, the game began well for the Wildcats who jumped out to a 9-0 lead in a first inning that saw the Nesbitt brothers each record two hits, and Moore throw only nine pitches. Sam Molner and Dal Nesbitt combined for four RBIs in the inning.
Twin Valley poured on five more runs in the second, but in the bottom of the frame, Moore lost his touch after a quick strikeout, and gave up five runs. Cade Nesbitt came in to try to stop the bleeding, but allowed three runs before Twin Valley could record two outs.
Twin Valley would take the game back with Cade Nesbitt and Murdock, who would relieve him in the fifth, each allowing one more run. The Wildcats would post five more runs of their own.
With two on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Lozito would make a heads-up play to end the game. A wild pitch by Murdock allowed Proctor’s third base runner to charge for home. But Lozito scooped up the ball and beat him to the plate for the last out.
The Wildcats finished with 20 hits in 46 at-bats. Dal Nesbitt finished 3-5 with two runs, and two RBIs, Molner finished 5-5 with three runs and two RBIs, and Cade Nesbitt finished 4-4 with three runs.
Twin Valley plays Arlington today at Baker Field, at 4:30 pm.