BURLINGTON — Nate Hudson’s two out RBI single plated the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the third seeded Otter Valley Otters edged the number four U-32 Raiders 3-2 for the VPA Division Two baseball championship on Monday night at Centennial Field.
Hudson’s hit ended a brilliant battle between starting pitchers Derek Aines of the Otters and Jackson Root of the the Raiders. Both pitchers retired the side in order over the first two innings before both sides lit the scoreboard in the third.
Otter Valley scored first as Connor Aitchison singled, was sacrificed to second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Carter Pelzel sacrifice fly.
But the Otters rebounded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. After catcher Daniel Allen was hit by a pitch his courtesy runner Jack Adams stole second and scored on a RBI single by Patrick McKeighan to tie the game. McKeighan then stole second, was sacrificed to third and scored on an RBI single by Reilly Shannon for a 2-1 Otter lead. OV would go on to load the bases in the inning but Root pitched out of it.
From there the two hurlers would match each other pitch for pitch into the top of the seventh. Then with two out and nobody on, the Otters one out away from victory, the Raiders would find some two out magic, as Owen Guthrie beat out an infield hit and then stole second. Aitchison would then pull a hard grounder just inside the third base bag to score Guthrie and tie the game.
But the final rally would belong to the Otters. Colby McKay would start it with a long leadoff double up the left centerfield gap. He was sacrificed along to third and with one out the Raiders elected to walk the next two hitters to load the bases. It appeared the strategy might work as Root struck out Shannon for the second out, but Hudson’s single into right center plated McKay with the winning run.
Aines scattered five hits and struck out seven to earn the win. Root allowed just six hits in absorbing the defeat.
Hudson had two hits including the game winning single for OV. Aitchison went 2 for 3 for U-32.
The Otters finished 14-6 in winning their fourth state baseball title and their first since 2013. The Raiders, appearing in a baseball title game for the first time ever, ended their season at 13-6.