By ANTHONY LABOR JR.
For the Colchester Sun
BURLINGTON – The Lakers entered Saturday’s Division I championship game having won 15 of their previous 16 games, while South Burlington came in with seven straight wins, after both rode the momentum of their strong stretch runs into the playoffs to put on a show battling it out for the title.
In a back-and-forth game that saw third-seed Colchester come back from three runs down, a 2-run bloop single by South Burlington’s Ben Tate in the fifth inning proved to be the difference as the fourth-seed Wolves earned a 5-3 victory.
After trailing 3-0 early in the game, the Lakers got two runs in the third and another in the fourth to tie the game 3-3. South Burlington got two runners on with back-to-back singles by John Thibeault and Connor McGrath. Colchester’s Tom Vesosky got a groundout to first for the second out with the runners advancing to second and third. But Tate took his 1-2 pitch and popped it up down the right-field line with three Colchester fielders giving chase. The first baseman dove for the ball but it was just out of his reach and landed on the line, allowing the two runners to score what ended up being the winning runs.
From there South Burlington reliever Sam Premsagar shut down the Laker bats, allowing only one hit and two walks in 3 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the win. Starter Jack Ambrosino gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Vesosky took the loss for Colchester, pitching 4 1/3 innings of relief and giving up two runs on five hits and no walks. Starter Saul Minaya threw the first 2 1/3, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks.
Thibeault got the scoring starting for South Burlington, reaching in the second inning on an error. He advanced to second when McGrath walked, and came around to score on a single by Chance O’Connor. The Wolves extended the lead to three in the third inning. Nolan Antonicci drew a walk to start the inning, and advanced to second on a passed ball before stealing third and scoring on an RBI single by Ethan Klesch. Klesch scored later in the inning on an RBI hit by Thibeault.
The Lakers wouldn’t go away quietly, starting a rally in the bottom of the third. Vesosky led off with a single, Tyler Daniels walked, and Minaya bunted both runners up 90 feet. Vesosky scored when Eben Provost grounded out to the shortstop. Daniels made it home on an RBI single by Chase Corey to make it 3-2.
In the fourth, Lucas McClanahan singled and courtesy runner Will Spencer eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Vesosky to tie it at three.
The momentum was short-lived, though, with Tate’s 2-run single putting the Wolves back in front and Premsagar shutting the door the rest of the way.
The Wolves finish 15-5, hoisting their seventh baseball championship. The Lakers (16-4) were making their first championship-game appearance since 2000.
Photos by Kyle St. Peter for the Colchester Sun.