ENOSBURG — Strong defense, solid pitching, and a big blast help the Hornets cruise to an opening-round playoff victory over the Fair Haven Slaters.
Brandon Parent got things started for the Hornets with a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning. The next batter, Shea Howrigan, drove him in with a double to the right-center gap putting the Hornets on top 1-0.
Enosburg starter Kam Lovellette worked around two second-inning walks, escaping with the slim 1-0 lead. Hornet second baseman Foster Hutchins drove in the second run of the game in the bottom of the second inning, extending the Hornet lead. Strong defensive play kept the Slater's off the board in a third, as the Hornets turned a slick inning-ending double play that started with a hard comebacker to Lovellette.
Justus Orton led off the third inning with a double to left field, and Dylan Pattee followed up with a single, moving Orton to third.
A Peter Stiebris line drive up the middle drove in Orton and Pattee. Blair Archambault's sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position with one out, and Joey Pennell singled up the middle for a 6-0 Hornet lead.
Hutchins worked a four-pitch walk, and Brandon Parent drove in two more runs for the Hornets, making it 8-0.
The Hornet defense continued to shine in the fourth inning when Lovelette snagged a hard ground ball up the middle, throwing out the lead runner at third base. Hutchins ended the inning with a backhand grab at second for the third and final out.
Stiebris got things started offensively in the fourth with a leadoff single. Enosburg added two more runs scoring on a bases-loaded infield error. Hornet senior Justice Orton put the game out of reach with a towering fourth-inning grand slam over the centerfield fence, making it 15-0.
"I was looking at the runners on base and decided it was time to put one out," said Orton.
Lovelette went five innings, allowing no runs on 2 hits and striking out 2.
"I had great defense behind me tonight," said Lovelette.
The Hornets had 11 hits led by Stiebris and Ortin, each racking up multiple hits. Stiebris went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead Hornets' offense.
"This was probably one of the best defensive games we've had all season, and the bats came alive for us.
Justus' grand slam sealed the deal in the fourth. This was a team effort, and it was fun to watch," said Hornet coach Rodney Burns.