Cats lose final home opener

The baseball action at Centennial Field this past weekend was far more than just a few baseball games — it represented the end of an era at the University of Vermont.

In what now stands as the final home opener in program history, the baseball team fell by a narrow 7-6 margin to the Manhattan Jaspers on Friday. 

The Cats bounced back on Saturday, however, with a pair of wins over Manhattan and NJIT.

Friday’s game, which was the kick off of the annual Catamount Baseball Classic, saw the Cats go down 1-0 after the first inning, but following some clutch hitting from senior Jeff Nolet, junior Ethan Paquette, sophomore Tom Jackson and freshman Dave Soltis, Vermont bounced back to lead 3-1 after two. 

The Jaspers narrowed the lead to 3-2 with a run in the fourth, and the score held that way until the seventh inning, when Manhattan tagged Catamount starter senior Joe Serafin for three runs to take the lead 5-4. 

Vermont came back strong in the bottom of the eighth, as Paquette and Jackson each drove in a run to take a 6-5 lead. 

Manhattan recorded two runs in the top of the ninth, though, giving the team a lead it would not relinquish.

Senior pitcher Justin Albert led the Cats in the first round of the doubleheader on Saturday.

Albert led Vermont to a 3-2 victory over Manhattan with a complete game performance.

Albert allowed eight hits and struck out six, while the Catamount scoring came from sophomore Mark Mickowski, Nolet and junior Justin Milo — who was making his first appearance for the baseball team on the season following the disappointing end of the men’s hockey season on Thursday. 

Vermont defeated NJIT 6-1 in the nightcap, led by a seven inning, two-hit and career-high 12-strikeout performance from senior Keith Rakus. 

Nolet was the leading offensive contributor for the Cats on the weekend, going six-for-10 with two RBIs over the three weekend games, bringing his season average to .321. 

With the two wins on Saturday, the Catamounts brought their record on the season to 7-18.