First of all, apologies for the delay. I had every intention of producing the season-ending high school baseball power rankings last week — and then, after the spring playoff blitz, I became reacquainted with the concept of time off.
Sunshine, down time, some lake time, friends in town … you know how it goes.
But before we get to our annual end-of-the-school year packages — boys and girls athletes of the year, coach of the year, moments/teams/games of the year — this weekend, power rankings are in order. (You can find the final regular season rankings here.)
And, without any more fuss, here they are:
1. Rice Memorial (18-2): I didn’t get a lot of things right in my playoff predictions, but I did call the Division I final going to extra innings — a 5-2 victory by the Green Knights for their second straight crown. (Never mind that I picked CVU to win the final…) It was a classic encounter between the state’s top two teams, one that tipped for Rice thanks to the fleet feet of Anthony Phillip and the left arm of Will Hesslink. Last week: 3.
2. Champlain Valley (18-2): The funny thing about the score in that Division I championship: The Redhawks beat Rice by the same score in extra innings in the regular season. The teams were just that close. Last week: 1.
3. South Burlington (14-5): The Rebels made Supple go the distance to beat them in the semifinals, the mark of a good team. Three of South Burlington’s losses came against the two D-I finalists, and they were the only other club to beat third-seeded Colchester. Last week: 5.
4. Colchester (16-3): The Lakers’ resurgent spring campaign ended a game short of the final — an 8-1 loss to the eventual state champion that could’ve gone either way until the sixth inning. Colchester’s body of work before that provided all the proof necessary to show the squad belonged with the state’s elite this year. Last week: 2.
5. BFA-Fairfax (18-1): Perhaps the class of the state outside the Division I ranks, the Bullets once again put on a clinic in Division III. Their crisp, relentless style gave opponents no room for error and resulted in Fairfax’s second title in a row, capping a three-year run in which coach Mike Brown’s group went 55-2. Last week: 6.
6. Lamoille (18-2): Twenty years after their first and only baseball crown, the Lancers did it again, a milestone moment for coach Greg Stokes, as Alex Abrami captured in his championship gamer. To do it, Lamoille had to survive Lake Region and ace Matt Messier, then dispatch the Bellows Falls team that bested defending champion Mill River in the semifinals. Title earned, for sure. Last week: 9.
7. Mill River (17-2): It was tough luck in the semis for the Minutemen. Rain forced the early suspension of their clash with Bellows Falls just after ace Lincoln Pritchard’s pitch count surpassed the number that would let him throw again the next day. Last week: 5.
8. Bellows Falls (14-6): One of only two teams to beat D-II powerhouse Mill River this year, the Terriers reached the state championship game for the first time since 1999. Last week: Bubble.
9. Milton (10-6): Without taking too much credit from 14th-seeded Vergennes’ upset of the Yellowjackets, Milton was clearly the better team from start to finish this season. But one-and-done playoff baseball can yield some surprising outcomes and Milton’s loss was one. The Yellowjackets stay in the top 10 because of their convincing regular-season resume. Last week: 8.
10. Blue Mountain (14-5): Like Rice and BFA-Fairfax, the Bucks made it two crowns in a row with their 8-3 win at Centennial Field thanks to 14 Black River walks and an 18-strikeout performance by ace Tyler Davis. And that all came after Blue Mountain escaped from a 5-0 hole against Concord in the semifinals, the final game for the Concord program. (Do not miss the video below by the Caledonian-Record on the final days of Concord athletics.) Last week: Unranked.
On the bubble: Williamstown (19-1), Lake Region (12-6).