POULTNEY — You can’t normally read much into a season-opening baseball game on the small-school circuit. Yet, following Poultney’s 16-3 thumping of Mount St. Joseph Academy on Friday, you can take this to the bank: The Blue Devil pitchers have lightning in their arms and the lineup that backs them up has thunder in the bats.
Poultney starting left-hander Jacob DeBonis and right-hander Spencer Gibbs each pitched just two innings of the abbreviated 4.5-inning game but had four strikeouts apiece. Ryan Alt pitched the fifth and retired the side in order and was hardest thrower of all.
Alt will start Tuesday’s game at White River Valley.
The Devils hit the ball hard throughout the order, led by by Jacob McMahon in the No. 6 spot. McMahon had a long RBI single that he slammed over the center fielder’s head and he also sliced a two-run double into the right field corner.
“We have got a lot of depth. Everyone hits the ball one through nine,” McMahon said. “Everybody can make good contact.”
The Blue Devils did not need a lot of hits to do the damage. MSJ pitchers walked 13 batters. Left-hander Chad Pack struggled with his control, walking five and hitting a batter during Poultney’s eight-run first inning.
The Devils made the walks hurt. Caden Capman and McMahon had RBI singles in the inning.
Ben Pencak came to the mound to get the final out of the frame and kept the Blue Devils off the scoreboard in the second.
But Poultney was right back at it in the third when the Devils scored seven runs. They had four base hits in that inning including two-run singles by McMahon and Tom Dunbar in the No. 9 hole.
The Mounties scored two in the top of the first. Pencak had an RBI single and Chance Passmore drew a walk with the bases loaded.
Sam Paquin drove in MSJ’s other run with a single in the fourth.
It was a typical first game between teams who had not been able to get outdoors a whole lot in the preseason. There were bushels of mental and physical errors, too many walks and an inordinate number of full counts.
But MSJ coach Garrett Brewer did like one thing he saw from his team.
“They were resilient. We had a rough first inning but they kept playing,” Brewer said.
He will look to build on that on April 19 when Leland & Gray pays a visit to St. Peter’s Field.
Gibbs was a standout for Poultney. He had his two strong innings on the mound, laced a ground-rule double to left that plated two runs and made an outstanding running catch from his shortstop spot in foul territory.
Poultney’s eight-hit attack was led by Capman and McMahon with two hits each.
The Devils have a deep staff. The three pitchers in this game all looked good and Capman will eventually be added to the mix.
“He hasn’t pitched since junior high. We will ease him into it,” Poultney coach Dan Williams said.
“Our goal this year is to eliminate our walks. We had way too many walks last year.”
“Poultney has got some arms and they have some hitters. They are going to be a tough team,” Brewer said.
He will look for his own team to brand itself as a contender in Division IV also. The Mounties will look to take a step toward that goal against Leland & Gray.
While there were plenty of first-game errors and mistakes, there were also some sparkling plays including a nice running catch by Pencak in left field for MSJ.