Competitive ball games are where a team learns the most about itself. Blowout wins look great on the scoreboard, but fierce competition can do a lot for a club in the long run.
Division III baseball is filled with teams that had to hold on to everything they got this spring.
Hazen’s 10-1 looks pretty on paper, but was not without work. The Wildcats have won five of those games by three runs or less. Most recently, it was Aasha Gould who netted a hit against a solid U-32 Division II club.
Hazen can beat you in a variety of ways with guys like Lyle Rooney leading the pitching staff and Tyler Rivard leading a power offense.
Bellows Falls was riding an eight-game winning streak heading into Tuesday and all but one of those games were decided by three runs or less. The Terriers shine when the lights are brightest and take several victories during this race decided by winning bunts.
Twenty miles away in Chester, Green Mountain is enjoying a successful season and close matchups against clubs like the Terriers, Springfield and White River Valley prepare them for the rigors of the playoffs.
The Chieftains have a winning culture in place, having appeared in a state title game just four years ago. Many of their athletes, like Kagan Hance and Branden Rose, have had success in football and basketball, so winning is an expectation for them.
Peoples Academy and Thetford Academy played in last year’s D-III State Championship game at Centennial Field and both would like to return to Burlington the second weekend in June.
Thetford took on Division II powerhouse Spaulding competitively for part of their game last week. The Panthers followed that up with a blowout loss to Lyndon, but bounced back in a big way against Oxbow over the weekend.
Wolves haven’t had a ton of close games themselves, but have felt a defeat at the hands of Hazen, one they would surely want to avenge should a playoff game materialize.
Even teams with losing records like BFA-Fairfax, Vergennes and Williamstown, among a few others, showed plenty of competitiveness.
Division III could be a wide open ballpark when the playoffs happens in a few weeks. The teams have all been tested and will be up for the challenge. One of those top-10 crack teams and a few more can be found on the bubble in this week’s Rutland Herald/Argus Time baseball power rankings. Let’s jump in the standings last week is the standings in brackets. Records and analysis are through Monday’s games.
1. CVU 8-1 (1). The Redhawks are two-time defending Division I champions for a reason and they look like a team ready to chase another title. CVU’s throwing has been dominant, allowing more three runs just once this season.
2. Burr and Burton Academy 10-2 (2). The Bulldogs had a slight setback to end the week losing to Rice, but they dominated Hoosick Falls in New York and beat a very strong Mount Anthony club earlier in the week.
3. Lyndon 11-0 (4). Last week, we noted how many challenges there were for the Vikings. One of them was Thetford and Lyndon topped them to a 17-0 victory. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 48-2 since last standings.
4. Spaulding 9-1 (5). Are we on a collision course to a Lyndon D-II Championship game against Spaulding. If so, sign us up. Three more quality wins this week for a Spaulding team that just keeps going from strength to strength.
5. Colchester 9-3 (6). The Lakers’ five-game winning streak was snapped this weekend by South Burlington, but Colchester returned to the DI title conversation.
6. Rice 7-3 (7). The victory against BBA is important. Throwing has been the Green Knights’ calling card all season and it came to fruition for them in this game.
7. Brattleboro 7-2 (3). The Colonels are seeing a small drop after being shut out on their home turf against Fair Haven on Saturday. Brattleboro has some tough games down the stretch with MAU and BBA still to play.
8. Burlington 8-4 (10). The Seahorses bounced back nicely from their loss to CVU, beating two Metro Division opponents later in the week.
9. Hazen 10-1 (UR). The Wildcats victory that really catches our eye is the one against the U-32s. The Raiders are a team that still have plenty of firepower from the 2021 state title team and beating them means something.
10. Blue Mountain 10-0 (UR). The Bucks are one of two remaining teams in Vermont high school baseball with an unblemished record heading into Tuesday. They are the clear title favorites in D-IV.
On the bubble: Mount Anthony, Bellows Falls, Peoples Academy.
TOP FIVESection I: 1. CVU; 2. ABA; 3. Colchester; 4. Rice; 5. Brattleboro.
Division II: 1. Lyndon; 2. Spaulders; 3. Mount Abraham; 4. Enosburg; 5. U-32.
Section III: 1.Hazen; 2. bellows chutes; 3. Peoples; 4. Thetford; 5. Green Mountain.
Division IV: 1. Blue Mountain; 2. White River Valley; 3. Arlington; 4. Rivendell; 5. Mount St. Joseph.