HYDE PARK – Nick and Nate Lynch are identical twin brothers on the Lamoille Union High School baseball team. Their physical appearances make it difficult for coach Greg Stokes to tell the brothers apart.
One tip: Nick is right-handed; Nate is a lefty.
“During a game, I can tell by the jersey number, but in practice, I can’t tell,” said Stokes, who teaches at the Green Mountain Tech and Career Center, located on school grounds. “At the tech center, when they are walking down the hallways, I can tell by which hand they hold their drink in. That’s the only true way.”
What is unmistakable, however, is the Lynch brothers’ play on the field.
Since their arrival as freshmen in 2011, the Lancers have two double-digit win seasons and three playoff victories — the program only has six postseason triumphs since 1999. Nate is a third baseman and pitcher; Nick is also a starter and plays first base, the cornerstones of a Lamoille baseball squad that should remain more than relevant in the Division II landscape.
“They have helped turn the program around, but it’s been a group effort. They never give up, never quit,” Stokes said. “If you are building an infield, on the two ends you have a perfect scenario — they have stabilized the corners.”
Last season, when Lamoille went 13-5 and lost in the Division III quarterfinals as the No. 3 seed, Nick led the team in batting average (.468) while Nate was second with a .362 clip.
“These two kids had so much knowledge coming in as freshmen. I didn’t want the pressure to be on them, so I batted them sixth and seventh, and they both hit too well, so by end of the year, Nate was third, Nick was fifth,” Stokes said. “Now they are batting second and fourth.”
Entering Thursday’s game, Lamoille is 3-0, with the brothers playing key roles. In the season-opener, Nick drove in Nate for the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. Nate also earned a victory on the mound in the second game, striking out 11 in a two-hitter, and smacked an inside-the-park homer in Tuesday’s win at Northfield.
“Coming to Lamoille, I thought we had a chance to change things and I think we’ve made a bigger difference than we planned on,” Nate said. “We are helping out the team because of the training and because of the love we have for the game.”
That desire for baseball was born playing in their grandfather’s fields in Waterville. The commitment level continues with offseason sessions with Champlain Valley coach Tim Albertson at Bases Loaded, an instruction academy based in Williston.
“We didn’t go anywhere without our gloves or balls and bats,” Nick said. “We’re always doing something with the game.”
Added Nate: “My own family has put a lot of money and time into baseball. We train a lot and it’s our goal is to go to college (to play).”