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High school baseball: South Jefferson romps in rare trip outdoors

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ADAMS — This was supposed to be the fifth week of the Frontier League baseball season, with teams finally finding their rhythm after a long offseason and making a final playoff push.

But in this strangest of springs, which saw the start of the season postponed for almost three weeks by a persistent winter and has already forced the cancellation of the playoffs, somehow it still feels like spring training for most teams. Monday’s Thousand Islands at South Jefferson crossover game was a prime example.

The visiting Vikings played like it was their first day outside, committing eight errors, failing to make even the routine play look routine and watching the Spartans banged out 22 hits en route to a 22-4 victory.

In fact, Thousand Islands coach Shannon Amo said his team (3-1) did not hit the field for its first outdoors practice until after spring vacation last week. “That’s not an excuse for making so many mistakes, but it certainly doesn’t help,” said Amo, echoing almost every other league coach who is trying to mix and match practices with games when fields are available.

Even winning coach Joe Vaadi of South Jefferson said his club, now 3-2, is still trying to find some sense of rhythm at the plate, on the mound and in the field.

“It’s tough when you can’t get outside regularly and then you play a game and have a week off,” Vaadi said. “It’s a wonder we can throw strikes or catch anything with as little outside practice as we’ve had.”

Fortunately for the Spartans, the bats came alive for the first time this season. Hunter Gillett and Adam Hutchinson both finished with four hits with Gillett driving in four runs and Hutchinson two. Cody Modlin contributed three hits, including two doubles, and finished with two RBIs, while Logan LaFlamme also had three hits and two RBIs.

Gillett said it felt good to finally break out. “Just feeling the sun today was nice. I felt a lot more comfortable at the plate not having to shiver all the time and keep my hands warm,” he said. “Almost everybody was aggressive today, and we just hope to continue that with all the games we have left.”’

LaFlamme pitched the first four innings for the Spartans to earn the win, allowing all four runs. Gillett hurled a sparkling three innings of relief, not allowing a hit and striking out four.

It was actually tied at 4-4 after the top of the third. But South Jefferson then took control with four runs in the bottom of the third, highlighted by RBI hits by Hutchinson and LaFlamme.

Thousand Islands’ defensive woes came to the forefront in the South Jefferson fourth. The Vikings committed five errors, and combined with eight South Jefferson hits, led to 10 runs to break the game open.

“It wasn’t just one guy, everybody played like it was the first game,” Amo said. “Hopefully, its was just one of those games and we’ll get it out of our system.”

South Jefferson is scheduled for play a game every day this week, but the forecast of week-long showers could make it another frustrating wait.

“When you play baseball in this part of the state, it’s what you get,” Vaadi said. “You try to make the most of it and try not to get too discouraged.”

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