CHESTER — Green Mountain’s Skyler Klezos is one of those guys in the middle of everything.
He got what was arguably the biggest basket of the game in the Chieftain’s state championship basketball victory over Williamstown. Wednesday, he made the two biggest plays in the sixth and seventh innings of Green Mountain’s 11-8 victory over Woodstock in a Division III first-round baseball playoff game.
The Chieftains were locked in an 8-8 tie with the Wasps when Klezos ripped a two-run single to left to break the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth.
“I was looking for a fastball down the middle, something I could rope to get the runs home, and I got it,” Klezos said.
Then, Klezos extinguished a huge threat by Woodstock in the top of the seventh with a double play.
The Wasps had the bases loaded and no outs when Jackson Martin lofted a fly ball to Klezos in right field. Klezos made the catch and rifled a throw to catcher Jack Boyle, easily getting the runner tagging up from third to complete the double play.
Left-hander Ty Merrill, brought to the mound in that seventh inning, closed the game out. After the double play, he induced a ground ball to first base for the game-ending out.
The Chieftains brought a modest 7-9 record to the D-III playoff party but they have been steeled by a difficult schedule that included four games against Division I opponents and six against Division II teams. They also played Division IV’s unbeaten White River Valley which might be as good as anyone in D-II or D-III.
“If we play to our potential, I definitely think we could go all the way,” Klezos said.
Green Mountain coach Matt McCarthy was not expecting the runner at third to tag in the seventh, but when he did, McCarthy knew the ball was in the right hands.
“Skyler has done that three or four times this year. His throws are on the money,” McCarthy said.
It was Woodstock with the look of a team capable of a deep playoff run in the early innings. Chase Christiansen led off the game with a single and Chase Swisher walked the next two hitters. Alex Rice and Wyatt Begin delivered RBI singles.
Boyle had a bad-hop RBI single in the bottom of the inning but in the second, Rice’s RBI ground out extended the Wasps’ lead to 3-1.
Tom Bissaillon was a bulldog on the mound for the Wasps. He did, though, falter in the second when the Chieftains sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs.
The Chiefs only had two hits in the inning, the big one a two-run triple by Boyle. Merrill had the other hit in the inning.
What fueled the uprising were four walks and a hit batsman.
The Wasps were undeterred. They battled back to take an 8-7 lead.
They scored two in the third, Christiansen knocking both runs in with his hard single to left.
Christiansen had a mammoth day, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
The Wasps got three more in the fourth. This time Robby Macri struck the big blow, a two-run double to center.
That gave the Wasps an 8-7 lead that stood until the sixth when Klezos banged out his big hit and Reid Hryckiewicz got another run home with his sacrifice fly.
Bissaillon settled in nicely after his rocky second but that inning contributed to his high pitch count and he gave way to Martin at the beginning of the sixth.
McCarthy patched together his pitching. Swisher started, Branden Rose came on to start the fourth, Swisher came back into pitch, Klezos faced faced two hitters and then Merrill came in to pitch out of a prickly situation, getting all three outs.
Leading the Wasps were Christiansen with his three safeties and Wyatt Begin and Macri with two hits apiece.
Boyle led GM’s lineup with a single, double, triple and three RBIs. His double would have been another triple were it not for the face that teammate Kagan Hance came up injured ahead of him as he pulled into third base. He would have scored.
Hance had to be helped off the field and did not return.
Despite Boyle’s production at the plate, his biggest contribution might have been behind it it where he blocked pitches in the dirt all game long.
Green Mountain, the No. 7 seed, takes an 8-9 record on the road to play No. 2 Peoples Academy on Saturday.
NOTES: Woodstock also lost to Green Mountain 9-2 on May 6. ... With Swisher struggling early, McCarthy made a mound visit after just three batters. ... Castleton University baseball coach Ted Shipley was among those in attendance.