WALES – The wind was blowing out at Oak Hill High School for Wednesday’s KVAC Class B opener, but Maranacook decided it was a good day to play small ball anyway.
The Black Bears took advantage of five Oak Hill errors and a solid five innings from sophomore starter Travis Harwood to club their conference rivals, 11-4.
Billy Ervin had two singles and knocked in three runs for Maranacook, while Justin Denbow knocked a pair of hits, including a double in a five-run second inning. Ethan Guerette and Justin Plourde led the Raiders with two hits apiece.
Harwood struck out just one and walked three but surrendered just three hits and one earned run to pick up the win. Ryan Martin gave up a run and four hits in two innings of relief.
“My fastball wasn’t working very good. I threw a lot of curve balls and off-speed pitches,” said Harwood, who worked most in relief as a freshman. “I planned on just coming out and throwing fastballs and adjusting from that, but then I changed my game plan and started throwing more curve balls for strikes and less fastballs because I wasn’t hitting my spots.”
“That was really gutty for a sophomore – big stage, first game of the year,” said Maranacook coach Don Plourde. “I thought he had great command of his curve ball.”
Harwood gave up an unearned run in the first when he dropped a throw while covering the first base bag. But he had a nice cushion to work with when he returned to the rubber for the second inning thanks to two Oak Hill errors, an RBI single by Dylan Collins and a two-out, two-run single by Ervin that made it 5-1 in the top half of the frame.
The Raiders threatened to get right back into the game when they loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Plourde and Deven Eaton and a walk to Eric Daniels. Dean Stowell then hit a sacrifice fly to right to drive in Plourde, but Daniels was doubled-up trying to tag up from, then retreat to, first base. Harwood then fanned Guerette looking to limit a potential rally to just one run.
Oak Hill’s southpaw ace, Mike Eaton, struggled with his control (five walks, one intentional, in 3 1/3 innings) but his defense didn’t help him much, either. Maranacook loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on a walk, a Mike Poulin single and the Raiders’ third error. Craig Mattei’s sacrifice fly, an RBI single by Ervin and an RBI ground out by Will Bardaglio put the game out of reach.
“We’re just not ready,” said Oak Hill coach Chad Drouin. “I haven’t prepared these guys yet for the season to start. I just don’t think we’re physically prepared.”
The Black Bears tallied eight hits on the day, but just two for extra bases despite strong gusts blowing straight out to center field. They did have two sacrifice flies and a pair of sacrifice bunts, and Martin stole two bases, to get the offense going. Martin (two runs scored) added an RBI single in the fifth and Casey Coyne a sacrifice fly in the sixth to complete the scoring for the Bears.
“(Oak Hill) booted the ball a little bit, but with two outs, we had some big hits and some big at-bats,” Plourde said.