BOOTHBAY HARBOR – Take an informal poll of Mountain Valley Conference baseball coaches and a majority of them will admit, quietly, that the league is down a notch or two this season.
That doesn’t make the many resulting middle-of-the-pack games any less entertaining.
Consider the adventures of Livermore Falls on Thursday afternoon. After being held hitless and falling into a seven-run hole through the first four innings, the Andies sent the potential tying run to the plate in the fifth inning and into scoring position in the sixth before Boothbay escaped with an 8-5 victory.
Boothbay (3-7) scored one run in the first inning, five in the third and another in the fourth before the Andies’ awoke from their offensive slumber Livermore Falls (3-7-1) sent all nine batters to the plate and scored five runs off the Seahawks’ stingy starter, Nick Christopher, in the fifth.
Reliever Luke Monroe stranded Andies at second and third base in the sixth. Nate Blais’ third hit of the day plated an insurance run for Boothbay in the bottom of the frame, and Zack Keene scratched out Livermore Falls’ lone hit against Monroe in the seventh.
“At one point, it looked like it was going to be all we could do to even get a hit, and the next thing you know we’re in the game,” said Livermore Falls coach Brian Dube. “Overall, I thought we showed a lot of heart to fight back and make it interesting.”
With the exception of second baseman Karlton Jones and Thursday’s starting pitcher, Mike Durrell, the Andies’ lineup is loaded with freshmen and sophomores.
They are predictably unpredictable. In its two previous outings this weather-beaten week, Livermore Falls tied winless Georges Valley and knocked off higher-ranked Telstar.
“We’ve shown signs,” Dube said. “We’ve had most of our success with Jake Marceau on the mound, and we’re still trying to find a solid No. 2. Kevin Gats came in today, changed speeds well and threw strikes.”
Boothbay batted around and chased Durrell in the third inning, waiting out six walks in his short stint. Three straight free passes, two wild pitches and a Blais base hit prompted Dube to call on Gats, whom Drew Blaney greeted with a two-run single. Scott Norwood later slapped an RBI single, and Eric Rego made it 5-0 with a double to the gap in right-center field.
“There are a couple of teams at the top of the league with pretty strong pitching, but after that there’s really nobody overpowering,” said Boothbay coach Allen Hersom. “We were out of pitchers today, also. Everybody has used up everybody they’ve got because of all the rainouts.”
Although he’s a spot starter, Christopher now has two of Boothbay’s three victories. He retired the first 11 batters before Marceau walked with two out in the fourth. Christopher struck out five, including Durrell to end Livermore Falls’ furious fifth-inning rally.
Jones singled, Matt Cotnoir walked and Kyle Stebbins singled to get the Andies rolling. Caleb Baron reached on an error, scoring Jones. Gats knocked home Cotnoir with an infield single, and that errant throw to first allowed Stebbins to score. Marceau later delivered a two-run single.
In the sixth, Jones and Stebbins both banged their second hit of the game before Monroe coaxed Baron into a one-hopper to the mound for the third out.
Norwood went 2-for-3 and Rego was 2-for-4 for Boothbay. To supplement his 3-for-3 showing, Blais also walked, swiped two bases and notched two RBIs.