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home : sports : regional April 24, 2015

Vt. D-IV Baseball Semifinal Preview: Indians in Familiar Spot
Sports Editor

DANVILLE -- The Danville baseball team was never rattled, even after five losses to open the 2013 season.

With a laid-back veteran coach in Dave Chamberlin and a core group of veteran ballplayers, the two-time defending Division IV champions opted for progression, not panic.

"I told my assistant (Randall McGrath) before the season that we could easily start 0-4," said Chamberlin, who has guided the Tribe to five titles in 12 seasons. "We had a big turnover. We lost five starters. We were never too worried about the record, just as long as we were making improvements and getting better."

Better they were. After succumbing to D-III teams BFA-Fairfax, BMU (twice), D-II Lake Region and D-IV semifinalist South Royalton to start the year, the Indians reeled off a school-record 10 straight victories to vault from 0-5 to 10-5.

Following a 10-7 hiccup in the regular-season finale to unbeaten semifinal finalist BFA-Fairfax (17-0), a first-round bye and a 15-0 quarterfinal win over Whitcomb on Friday, Danville finds itself in a familiar spot.

In one of today's two D-IV semifinals, the third-seeded Indians (11-6) head south to Rutland to tangle with second-ranked Mount St. Joseph (13-4). The game -- a rematch of last year's title game that Danville won 12-0 -- is slated for 4:30, but could be pushed back to Wednesday given the forecast: scattered thunderstorms with a 60 percent chance of rain.

"A postponement is a possibility," Chamberlin said.

Bob Ryan NNEKY

So too is another D-IV baseball title for the Indians, who are gunning for their third straight and sixth championship in nine years.

Co-ace Kyle Johnson, who sports a 5-2 record with a 1.98 ERA and 6o strikeouts in 46 innings, will take the bump. Fellow ace and quarterfinal winner Brett Elliott and Jacob Mills are also available to pitch.

"All hands are on deck," Chamberlin said. "We will do what we have to do to get back to Centennial Field."

MSJ enters the game with a 13-0 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Twin Valley and a strong regular-season resume in their pocket. The Green Wave's four losses came to two D-II and two D-III schools -- the best win a 5-4 decision over D-II semifinalist Otter Valley (17-1) on May 20, the Otters' only loss of the year thus far.

"MSJ is for real. We have to play a good game," Chamberlin said. "Most of their team is back, a year older and a year stronger."

Chamberlin anticipates facing left-handed starter Matt Sanborn, who pitched in last year's final and was pulled after 75 pitches in the Green Wave's recent quarterfinal triumph.

"He not overpowering, but he can mix up his pitches," Chamberlin said. "Then again, I haven't seen him since last year."

Sanborn will have to deal with a solid Tribe lineup, powered by the three-four-five hitters in Elliott (batting .424 with 19 RBIs), Johnson (.321, 14 RBIS) and Mills (.380, 17 RBIs). Elliott displayed power in the quarterfinal win, belting his first varsity home run over the left-field bushes.

Looming on the other side of the bracket is top-ranked South Royalton (15-1), which tangles with No. 4 Rochester (12-5), also today at 4:30. The Royals, who beat Danville 3-1 in the second regular-season game of the season, are riding a 13-game win streak. Their lone loss came to Division III Randolph, and according to Chamberlin, boast a similar roster as a season ago when Danville rallied in extra innings to oust South Royalton in an epic semifinal.

The Division IV championship contest is slated for Friday or Saturday at Centennial Field in Burlington.

But first comes Mount St. Joseph.

"We just have to do what we do," Chamberlin said. "Pitch, play defense and execute. If we play like we did during our 10-game win streak, I believe we we will get the job done.

"Like I told the guys, it's a lot shorter trip home if you win."

NOTES: Other than pitchers, only David Marthers in center field and Eric Remick in right field are playing the same position they did a season ago. ... Danville won three straight titles from 2005-07, then was eliminated in the playdown round in 2008-10 before winning again the last two seasons. ... This will be the Tribe's 15th trip to the D-IV semis, reaching the championship game 10 times. The program owns eight titles.

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