Otter Valley, Bellows Falls split doubleheader


Pitcher Jake Cravinho of Bellows Falls pitches a winning game

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Otters and the Terriers of Bellows Falls took turns dominating play in a rare Monday afternoon doubleheader at Otter Valley High School on Monday. The Otters won the first game 8-2 behind the dominant pitching and hitting of Jordan Beayon; while the Terriers unleashed their own version of the “1950’s Go Go White Sox” and ran over the Otters, 8-1, in the nightcap. 

The Beauty of Baseball: same two teams, two totally different outcomes. If you want to see the baseball you grew up with – take in a Vermont high school baseball game. It is fun to watch.

Kudos to the coaches and AD’s at the respective schools. Rather than fight the rain on Friday, or take chances with snow and cold on Tuesday, the leaders saw a sunny break on Monday and squeezed both games onto the beautiful, well-maintained field surface at OVUHS for an afternoon delight. On Patriots Day, no less, just like the Red Sox used to do! There were no marathoners jogging by on Route 7, but once the Bellows Falls team put some people on the bases in the nightcap, the running commenced. 

It was old school baseball at its finest. A joy to watch, regardless of school affiliation.

After an impressive hitting display put on by Otter Valley in the opener, senior Jake Cravinho of Bellows Falls pitched a beauty in Game Two. A lithe righthander (not much over 5’10 and no more than 150 pounds) he pounded the strike zone, ran an impressive fastball and effective curve over the outside corner against the predominantly righthanded OV lineup and carried a shutout into the last inning. Overall, he scattered 6 hits, walked no one, and struck out four en route to the win. He also added a couple of hits and a stolen base or two to aid himself in the victory.  

His teammates backed him up with excellent defense (one error), speed on the bases, and timely hitting. They even squeezed home a run with a perfectly executed bunt. When was the last time we saw a squeeze play in the Majors? The Terriers also managed to score a run on a sacrifice fly to the first baseman on a foul pop up less than 25 feet from home plate! Without a throw. (You would have had to have been there to see it). 

But Cravinho and his sidekick Jamison Nystrom (losing pitcher in the first game) were the two stars in the win. Their excellent athleticism and baseball savvy were on display, along with the driving force of Coach Robert Lockerby.

The ”Beauty of Baseball” was on display in the first game as well. Otter Valley totally dominated the game behind the outstanding pitching of Jordan Beayon. He had a good rising fastball, enough off speed to keep the Terriers honest and his drive and confidence on the mound were big factors in the win. 

Beayon also had a long double that was quickly followed by another long double by Fraser Pierpoint and a resounding single by Ethan Blow. Those three ringing hits came in a three-run fourth that broke open a close game and gave the Otters an insurmountable 5-0 lead. 

The only Terrier threat came in the sixth when a two-out, two-on rally was snubbed as shortstop Caleb Whitney made a leaping, backhanded stop of a rocket hit by Nystrom. That was the last gasp for Bellows Falls as reliever Matt Bryant came in to close out the win in the seventh after OVUHS added three more in the bottom of the sixth. Luca Polli added two singles to the cause, along with a two-run single by Ben Adams in the first inning. 

Pierpoint, in particular, had a very strong day at the plate with solid line drives being driven all over the ballpark during the two games. In his start, Beayon went six innings, struck out 11, walked only two and scattered 7 hits. The second game loser, Andy McErnerny also threw well and he was ably relieved by Luca Polli, who also displayed a lively arm and a good fastball. 

Coach Mike Howe has a lot to look forward to as his team definitely has several good pitchers, a strong middle of the lineup and a highly capable infield. Even after pitching a strong game, Beayon went over to third base for game number two and displayed his strong arm across the diamond several times. All in all, a great day of high school athletics!

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