WALES — Walking into a medical center with a scary condition. Walking into a bases-loaded jam and issuing a couple of uncharacteristic walks as the lead slipped away. Walking into the dugout while exuberant teammates blistered his back.
It has been a busy, bizarre week in Cody Plourde’s shoes. After his two-run blast in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday gave Oak Hill a 10-9 triumph over Leavitt, however, Plourde’s Raiders are taking giant steps toward a Western Class B baseball playoff berth at anything but a pedestrian pace.
“I was calling for a home run from the third inning on,” said the left-handed Plourde, who clobbered a chest-high offering from Matt Bilodeau over the right-field fence at Fairchild Field. “This was my last home game, at least regular season. I had to hit one.”
Leavitt’s eighth error of the game put pinch hitter Cam Morin aboard with the potential tying run. Cody Fortier re-entered as the runner and gave the Hornets a chance to contemplate their next move in a game already stacked with enough twists and turns for an entire season.
Facing the top of Oak Hill’s order for the first time after relieving Christian McBriearty to start the seventh, Bilodeau worked the count to 1-1 before Plourde left the yard. It was his first home run of the year and second hit of the sweltering day.
“I thought about walking him, but you don’t really want to put the tying run on base,” said Leavitt coach Dave Bochtler.
Hard to say what would constitute the safe or unconventional move, anyway, in this game-that-had-everything.
Even having Plourde in the lineup as a designated hitter and leadoff man, then later using him as the bridge between starter Josh Martin and winning pitcher Ben Dyer, was a gamble for Oak Hill.
Plourde sustained a nasty abrasion on his left forearm after sliding into third base in the Raiders’ last game. The open wound turned into a case of cellulitis.
“I was a little wary about pitching,” said Plourde, one of Oak Hill’s top two starting hurlers. “It’s bandaged up pretty heavily. But it felt OK swinging the bat.”
Botched rundowns, dropped fly balls, walks and stranded baserunners were the norm early. Each team left the bases loaded once.
Then both the Hornets (6-8) and Raiders (8-6) put on the hitting shoes.
Oak Hill trailed 4-1, led 5-4, then fell in a 9-5 hole during a nightmarish sixth inning. Which, as fortune would have it, seems to be the Raiders’ comfort zone this spring.
“We’ve been on a bit of a roll, and we’ve won a lot of games where we’ve been behind and won a lot of one-run games,” said Oak Hill coach Chad Drouin. “These guys have a lot of confidence right now. You could see them up on the top step of the dugout. They knew we had a shot.”
Not without a two-out rally in the sixth, though. Josh Prue’s two-run triple to the gap in left center and Adam Soucy’s double in the opposite direction broke a spell of 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief by McBriearty.
Cam Labrecque’s fly out to Jason Fisher ended the threat.
Jake Ouellette provided two big pops for Leavitt, which needed a win to enhance its own flickering playoff hopes. His two-run triple backed up Kevin Theiss’ two-run single and made Oak Hill pay for two errors in the third.
Leavitt gave back all four runs in the bottom of that frame with four errors of its own. Labrecque lashed an RBI single against Shawn Berry to deepen the damage.
“We’re not sure if we’re a good team that has bad games or a bad team that has good games,” Bochtler said. “We’re trying to figure that out.”
Bilodeau and Tim Dow fueled a five-run Leavitt rally in the sixth with back-to-back singles. Matt Janosco and Zach Frost drew bases-loaded walks against Plourde to give the Hornets the lead. Ouellette later doubled down the right-field line to plate two more.
Oak Hill hasn’t won six of its last seven to put itself in the ninth and final playoff spot with two games to play by getting scared off, though.
“We’ve had so many late-inning comebacks,” said Plourde, one of seven seniors to recognize his parents in a post-game ceremony. “I think it helps that we’ve known each other and played baseball together pretty much our whole lives.”