Hilltoppers edge Bulldogs in finals


BURLINGTON >> The Burr and Burton baseball team had already upset two teams in the Division I playoffs. They fought valiantly, but the No. 5 seed Bulldogs were unable to finish its storied season with a title and instead fell to No. 2 St. Johnsbury, 3-1.

"It was a great season for us. I thought we could come out of this game with the win and the year with a state championship," said BBA coach Eddie Lewicki. "I thought we battled hard, but they made a few less mistakes out there then we did and that's what cost us."

It was just a few mistakes that was the difference in the game.

The first miscue for the Bulldogs came in the bottom of the second inning.

After cruising through the first five batters in the Hilltopper lineup without a problem, Bulldogs starting pitcher Jay McCoy looked like he was going to continue to pitch lights out, like he has all postseason long.

However, the sophomore issued a two-out walk to allow the first St. Johnsbury runner to reach base

The walk segued to Hilltoppers designated hitter Isaac Nurko, who blasted a shot into the gap in left center for a double that scored the runner from first to give St. Johnsbury a 1-0 lead.

McCoy continued to battle and keep the Hilltoppers offense at bay in the third, but fell into trouble again in the fourth.

After giving up back-to-back hits with one out, and then hitting his second batter of the game with two outs to load the bases, McCoy issued a bases-loaded walk that allowed St. Johnsbury to extend its lead to two and in the process, ending his night on the mound.

"We rolled the dice going with the hot hand in Jay and I thought he pitched great tonight," Lewicki said. "He made a couple mistakes and only gave up three hits."

McCoy allowed three runs on three hits with fourth strikeouts in his 3 2/3 innings on the mound for BBA.

Junior Griff Stalcup came on to relieve McCoy, but he hit the first batter he faced to give St. Johnsbury a 3-0 advantage, with two of the three runs coming on without a hit.

At the plate, the Bulldogs had a tough time against St. Johnsbury left hander Eamonn McCabe, but most of all, struggled to get a timely hit with runners in scoring position.

The Bulldogs had runners on first and second in both the first and fourth innings, but failed in both innings to get any of them across the plate.

BBA finally got on the board in the sixth inning with back-to-back doubles by senior Cody Roberts and McCoy that cut it to a two-run deficit. That brought the tying run to the plate but McCabe got his man to end the threat.

"We swung at a lot of off-speed, first pitch stuff with some very weak results and that's a little bit out of character," Lewicki said. "We just didn't hit."

Stalcup kept the Bulldogs in the game with two scoreless innings pitched, but it was too little, too late as McCabe set down the Bulldogs in order in the seventh to finish his complete-game six-hitter and send BBA to a defeat in its first Division I final appearance.

"It's tough to be on this side of a championship game, but I thought our kids played hard and never gave up," Lewicki said. "They kept fighting out there all night and I'm really proud of what they all have accomplished this year. This was a great season for our program and one that will help us grow more and more in the future."

BBA finishes with a record of 16-4 on the season.


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