Hurricanes fall to Burr & Burton during regular-season finale

Hartford High pitcher Solly Flores delivers against Burr & Burton on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Burr & Burton won, 11-0. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High pitcher Solly Flores delivers against Burr & Burton on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Burr & Burton won, 11-0. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News Photographs — Tris Wykes

Hartford High's Sean Dunton awaits a pitch during his team's game against Burr & Burton on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High's Sean Dunton awaits a pitch during his team's game against Burr & Burton on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Hartford High's Nate Clark watches Burr & Burton take infield before the teams' May 27, 2023, game at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Burr & Burton won, 11-0. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High's Nate Clark watches Burr & Burton take infield before the teams' May 27, 2023, game at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Burr & Burton won, 11-0. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Hartford High baseball assistant coaches Kris Keelty, left, and Scott Luca, center, enjoy a pregame laugh with head coach Bill Vielleux on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Hartford lost, 11-0, to Burr & Burton. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford High baseball assistant coaches Kris Keelty, left, and Scott Luca, center, enjoy a pregame laugh with head coach Bill Vielleux on May 27, 2023, at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt. Hartford lost, 11-0, to Burr & Burton. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Solly Flores

Solly Flores —BigZig Photo

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2023 6:39 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Faint banks of fog formed in the outfield and drifted towards the diamond Saturday night at the Maxfield Complex baseball field. The thickening wisps couldn’t obscure the Hartford High baseball team’s comedy of errors, however, the Hurricanes falling to Burr & Burton, 11-0, during the teams’ regular-season finale.

Hartford committed nine errors, all on throwing plays, while falling in six innings. By the end, the home dugout was full of wincing expressions and pained chuckles. How does an action that’s logically noncontagious spread as if it most certainly is?

“We can’t throw the ball to first and we can’t throw the ball to second,” said Hartford coach Bill Vielleux, whose 9-5 team struggled defensively last season but had cleaned up its act until recently. “It’s one of those nights where we field the ball well, but we can’t find a glove on the other side.”

The Hurricanes won five consecutive games earlier this month and gave themselves a chance at earning the second or third playoff seeding in Vermont Division II, Vielleux said. Three straight setbacks to end the regular season, however, mean Hartford has dropped down the ladder.

“We didn’t take care of business,” said the coach, whose team lost 3-2 to Bellows Falls and 12-2 to Otter Valley before tackling Burr & Burton. “Tonight was senior night and we were still playing to win, but I was determined to play the seniors.”

Hartford started sophomore pitcher Solly Flores, a lefthander who’s nominally its third hurler behind Matt Hayes and Zach Johnson. Wearing the unusual uniform number 61, Flores allowed five hits and seven runs, none of them earned, while striking out three Bulldogs and walking seven in four innings.

The youngster’s angst was palpable in his body language and angry muttering, behaviors Vielleux said the coaching staff is working to reduce.

“You have to let the last pitch go,” the coach said. “Solly is very hard on himself, even when he’s throwing well. We want him to pitch to contact and he got ground balls, but we just couldn’t execute.

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“He thinks every pitch he throws should be a strike and he chews himself up when he doesn’t. He did a good job tonight.”

Burr & Burton (12-4), a Division I team, started gangly lefthander Trevor Greene, who also went four innings, surrendering one hit while striking out nine Hurricanes and walking three. Ethan Jacobson-Goodhue and Shane Jenks, both seniors, had the hosts’ two hits.

“Eleven unearned runs…” Vielleux said, his voice trailing off in wonder. “If we keep it to one or two errors, maybe it’s a 1-0 or 2-0 game. We pitched all right, but the seven guys behind the pitcher have to do their jobs.”

The Hartford coach noted the hosts had disciplined at-bats against two strong pitchers. The Hurricanes didn’t swing at bad pitches, they just couldn’t hit many of the good ones, which were plentiful.

“We’ll go out Monday and throw the ball around the diamond until we can hit gloves,” said Vielleux, who expects to be hosting a first-round playoff game on either Tuesday or Wednesday. “If we play defense, we have as good a shot as anyone to go to (the state finals). If we don’t play defense, it will be a quick exit.”

Notes: Hartford’s other two seniors are Trenton Bird and Joey Beggs… A foul ball struck one of the large light bulbs atop a tower early in the game. “I was waiting for it to explode like in the movie ‘The Natural’ joked Vielleux, referring to the 1984 Robert Redford flick… Maxfield’s infield looks worn and scraggly, no doubt a product of recent dry weather. Keeping it resilient for the Upper Valley Nighthawks’ upcoming New England Collegiate Baseball League season will be a substantial challenge… Hartford recently honored its 1973 state championship team, the only Hurricanes squad to capture such a prize other than the 2009 group… Assistant coach Kris Keelty is in his 19th season with the program.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.