.By ANTHONY LABOR The Essex Reporter
It was a busy weekend for the Essex Post 91 American Legion baseball team.
Essex swept Burlington on Saturday and South Burlington on Sunday in back-to-back doubleheaders before heading to Colchester to take on the Cannons on Monday.
Essex didn’t show any signs of fatigue, as they went on to take a strong 11-4 win over the Cannons.
“We are a tired bunch, but we have really plugged away over the last three days,” said Post 91 coach Paul Morgan. “We have had some older guys step in and some guys come back from college step in and do a lot of good things. When you go five-for-five, you are a happy coach.”
Essex saw production up and down its lineup in the game on Monday, including from its bench players during a hot and muggy game.
Morgan was happy to see the depth of his team come into play during a tiring three-day span of games.
“We are starting to settle in as a team and guys are starting to figure out their roles,” he said. “We struggled a little in the first five games, but we have done a nice job pushing the envelope lately and making teams work against us.”
It was a tough game for the Cannons, who dropped their third game in a row. They went straight from Monday’s game to the airport, as they will travel around Alaska for the next two weeks for games.
The Cannons committed five throwing errors in the game and were picked off at first base throughout the game.
“We don’t have a lot of numbers, so we have a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of experience,” said Cannons coach Jeff Mongeon. “We just have to work through the mental errors, because we are making way too many right now.”
Essex made the Cannons pay for mistakes early on. Josh Baez (2-for-4, three RBIs, one run) got things going when he reached second base on a throwing error by Colchester.
Hayden Smith (3-for-5, two RBIs, one run) knocked him in during the next at bat to give Essex the 1-0 lead.
Post 91 kept things going in the second, as they tallied three runs in the inning. Jake Gaboriault led the inning off with a single and reached second on another error by the Cannons. He scored when Eli Baez reached on an error two batters later.
With runners on second and third later in the inning, Josh Baez continued to contribute at the plate with a two-run single to put Essex up 4-1 after two innings.
“Our lack of experience really showed in the early innings,” said Mongeon. “We just gave them too many outs on ground balls and they made us pay.”
Essex added another run in the fourth on an RBI double by Josh Baez and three in the sixth behind an RBI single by Smith and a two-run home run by Davis Mikell to put them up 8-0.
Essex pitcher Joey Robertson (six innings, two runs, three strikeouts) shut down the Colchester bats through five innings, despite letting runners reach second base in four of the first five innings.
“This was Joey’s first start of the summer and he did very well,” said Morgan. “He handled himself well in those pressure situations with runners in scoring position, which is what we expect out of him. He’s not going to blow you away with his stuff, but doesn’t pitch to a batter the same way twice, which helps keep them off balance.”
The Cannons finally got to him in the sixth when Sean Callahan (3-for-3) and scored after Nick Lamphere singled and reached second on a throwing error.
Two batters later Luke Covey knocked in Lamphere with an RBI single to make the score 8-2.
But it wasn’t enough, as Essex knocked across three more in the top of the seventh with RBIs from Jake Benson and Mitch Lane.
Colchester showed heart in the seventh, as they knocked in two more runs behind an RBI single by Lamphere, but the deficit was too much.
“We had a good seventh, but one inning isn’t going to win you games,” said Mongeon. “We need to come out and be mentally prepared to play from the start or this will be the outcome.”
Colchester will now compete in games around Alaska from now until July 14. They will return to action in Vermont on July 17 when they travel to Green Mountain Post 1.
“We do these trips to give the kids experiences out of Vermont,” said Mongeon. “Hopefully we can pick up some experience we lack, but it really is for the kids to get a new experience.”
Essex traveled to Montpelier on Tuesday and hosted Clinton County on Wednesday. They will host Montpelier to cap a week of eight games in six days. Game time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. at Essex High School.
“It’s been a busy weekend for us, but the week is just starting,” said Morgan. “We have to keep playing this way to keep the momentum and the wins coming.”