MONTPELIER — Montpelier’s ACME team struggled to get the bats rolling all night Friday, as left-handers Zack Hayes and Colton Hicks threw well for North Central and kept the Locos off-balance.
The two arms led the way in a sweep over Montpelier, 5-2 and 4-2, in back-to-back games at Butch Stantz Field in Montpelier.
The Locomotives, who had hit the ball well throughout the ACME season, couldn’t get the bats rolling against the powerful lefties from North Central.
“Our bats have usually been pretty decent, we just weren’t on the ball today,” Montpelier coach Tim Sanders said. “Not sure what was going on. Of course we made our share of mistakes. Not taking away anything from North Central, but the hits we did have were right to somebody.”
Hayes allowed five hits in six innings pitched with eight punch-outs. He only threw 10 pitches in the fifth inning, where he struck out all three Locos batters swinging.
“Zack did an awesome job,” North Central coach Josh Hicks said. “We were trying to go as deep as we could (75 pitches), we just ran out on the pitch count there.”
Colton threw solidly in the second game and allowed both Montpelier runs in the second inning — both unearned.
“I thought he did a lot better coming out and throwing strikes, getting ahead of batters,” Josh said.
First-pitch strikes were paramount for the Eagles, as the Locos were aggressive at the plate in both games, and swung early and often at pitches.
The end result wasn’t favorable, though, as Montpelier tallied just four hits in the second game (in five innings) and five in the first game (in seven).
“We made a couple errors together, that didn’t help,” Sanders said. “Once they got on base, they had a couple hits and scored some runs. Sometimes, that’s the name of the game, especially in close games.”
North Central added all four of its runs in the third inning of the second game to get the win. In the first game, it scored two runs in the first and ended the fifth, sixth and seventh innings with a run each to pull away with the win.
“This is the best I’ve seen us play, as far as the whole game,” Josh said. “We started out good, and we kind of went through a rough stretch where I’m not sure we really wanted to play. I think we showed up today.”
Montpelier was absent varsity stand-outs Blake Altaffer and Collin Crisenbery, but Sanders offered up no excuses for his nine-man unit on Friday.
“They’re nice to have on the team, they’re good players, but we’ve got a good group of boys here,” Sanders said. “Whether it makes a difference that they know they’re gone, I’m not sure. I’m happy with the team I’ve got. We’ve just got to get back on track.”