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home : sports : regional April 17, 2015

Vt. Baseball: Hudson, SJA Knock Off Bobwhites
St. Albans Messenger

ST. ALBANS -- Dana Duquette held St. Johnsbury Academy to one run with three 1-2-3 innings while leaving the bases loaded in another, but the Hilltoppers took their first lead on Andrew Graciano's two-run double and went in front for good with two runs on BFA-St. Albans errors for a 5-3 victory at the Collins-Perley Sports Center on Tuesday.

Sophomore Colton Hudson went the distance for St. Johnsbury, spreading out nine hits, striking out three and walking just two for the win.

"It started with Colton again," Hilltoppers coach Marc Choiniere said. "He threw a lot of strikes, and we made the plays behind him for the most part. SJA had timely hitting Tuesday, especially catcher Andrew Graciano's two-out, two-run double in the fifth inning, but "it was our pitching and defense today," Choiniere emphasized.

BFA outhit the Hilltoppers 9-5, but left runners on base in all seven innings, including two in the bottom of the seventh.

Leadoff batter Doug Saffo led the Bobwhite offense by reaching safely all five times he came up, on an error in the first inning -- scoring two outs later on Jordan Stone's RBI single -- and following that with hits in each of his remaining four chances. Saffo also stole two bases, and scored BFA's second run on Nick Berno's sacrifice fly to halve the Hilltoppers' lead.

The Bobwhites tied it up in the bottom of the sixth when Ryan Connor walked and Brandon Streeter -- who had already tripled -- belted a full-count, run-scoring double to make it 3-3.

St. J jumped into the lead in the top of the fifth with two runs, and finally got the first batter out in the bottom half only to see BFA get one run back.

Dan Squires started things with a base hit and Clay Morrison reached on an error. Hudson's sacrifice bunt pushed the runners to second and third, and after Duquette got his second strikeout of the day, Graciano slammed a double just over the center fielder's head to drive in both runs for a 3-1 lead. A nice stab of Hale's screaming line drive by BFA third baseman Josh Waite robbed the Hilltoppers of another run, ending the inning.

Saffo again set up a Bobwhite run to make it 3-2 in the home fifth, hitting a one-out single and making it to third on a well-timed hit and run. St. J tried to get a force at second on Darren Callan's hit-and-run grounder to short, but Saffo just beat the tag at second and the rushed throw to first was wild, leaving runners at second and third. Berno's fly to enter field easily scored Saffo.

After the Bobwhites tied it at three in the sixth on Streeter's double, the Hilltoppers quickly capitalized on three BFA errors on two plays in the seventh. Morrison reached on a one-out infield error and Hudson singled. After another ground out, Graciano hit a hard shot to short that was bobbled and then thrown away, allowing both runs to score.

BFA tried to rally again in its last at-bat, with Saffo reaching on his fourth straight single and Jordan Stone getting a hit with two outs. But Hudson finished off his complete-game effort with a pop-up to short.

Morrison, Hudson, Hale, Comerci and Squires each had one hit for St. Johnsbury, while Morrison and Graciano each got aboard twice on errors.

St. Johnsbury next hosts Mt. Mansfield Thursday at 4:30.

SJ 010 020 2 -- 5 6 1

100 011 0 -- 3 9 3

S: Colton Hudson and Andrew Graciano; B: Dana Duquette, Charles Richardson (6), Dylan Callan (7) and Jordan Stone. WP: Hudson; LP: Callan. Top Hitters: S, Graciano (1-4, double, 2 RBIs), Clay Morrison (1-3, 2 runs). Rec.: SJ 7-4, BFA 6-5.

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