AUBURN – Lewiston and Edward Little hope they started a new tradition by meeting under the lights at Auburn Suburban Little League’s Austin Field on Thursday night.
The tradition will have to last a long time to match the number of peaks and valleys the first game had for both teams.
Justin Ciszewski’s eighth-inning single through a drawn-in infield scored John Alexander and gave the Red Eddies an 8-7 win in a seesaw battle played before a boisterous bipartisan crowd of over 300.
EL (8-5) avenged a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Blue Devils (6-9) earlier in the season.
“I was in center field, my heart’s pumping, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t relax,” Ciszewski said. “In the dugout, everyone was right on edge. It’s a good atmosphere, though. Keeps everyone in the game.”
Alexander drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run with Chris Merrill, then trotted home when Ciszewski slapped a 1-0 fastball from Lewiston reliever Ryan Dube up the middle.
“I wasn’t expecting to see anything (to hit) because they’d been pitching around me since my first at-bat of the first game,” Ciszewski said. “But he threw me that first fastball just above my chest and then I knew he was coming with something. So I was just sitting fastball and as soon as it came down the pipe, boom.”
“We had all that emotion and all of these fans and the game was up and it was down,” Annear said. “When you’re playing your rival like that, it’s real easy to get real high and real easy to get real low, and we were able to stick through it.”
The lowest of lows for the Eddies came in the sixth. Chad Guimond’s two-run double and a misplayed fly to right in the top of the frame had brought the Blue Devils back from a 6-4 deficit to a 7-6 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, Guimond retired the first two EL batters on ground outs. But the right-hander, who threw 119 pitches in his first start of the season, was tiring, and Tyler Dorris, EL’s last hope, worked a two-out walk. Derek Doucette and Kyle Giguere followed with free passes to load the bases.
Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli brought in Dube to face Tyler Snowe, who laced a 3-2 pitch to second baseman Dan Cloutier. Cloutier trapped the ball and Snowe beat his throw to first for an infield hit to score Dorris with the tying run.
The Blue Devils, who left 11 runners stranded for the game, had a chance to take the lead again in the eighth. They put their first two men on, and also had men at first and third with one out, but Dorris, pitching in relief of starter Adam Redmun, fanned Dube and got Cloutier to fly out to right to preserve the tie.
For all of the excitement, both teams were a bit sloppy, committing six errors apiece. EL’s first error factored in a two-run first for the Devils. The Eddies responded in the bottom of the frame with three runs to take the lead, but then Mike Fontaine’s RBI single tied it again in the second.
Lewiston took the lead again in the third on Ryan Lagasse’s RBI single. The Blue Devil defense suffered a meltdown in the fourth, committing four errors that led to three runs and a 6-4 Edward Little lead.
Two more Blue Devil errors in the sixth helped load the bases with one out, but Guimond, making his first start of the year, kept his poise and struck out pinch-hitter Jacob Marcum looking and induced a pop up to second by Alexander to keep Lewiston within striking distance.
“Chad has the heart of a lion,” Cifelli said. “If we could transplant whatever is in him to other kids in the program, we’d be pretty successful consistently. He just battled, and at the end of the game I think he started to feel his legs go.”