POLAND – Will Griffiths is used to finishing games, not starting them.
Given a spot start Saturday, the right-hander struggled through the first two innings before closing out the Fryeburg lineup in fine fashion.
Griffiths’ complete-game effort and his 4-for-4 performance at the plate helped Poland earn a 9-3 Western Maine Conference baseball win.
Griffiths (3-0) yielded all three of his free passes, a hit batsman and all of the Fryeburg runs in the first two frames as he struggled with his control.
“You always have to adjust to an umpire’s strike zone,” said Griffiths. “I had to get into a zone and keep pushing. I think our defense is great. I just have to throw strikes and let them do the work.”
The Raiders (3-5) touched Griffiths for a pair of runs in the first as they strung together two walks, a wild pitch and an RBI single to right by Pat Tweedie (three hits, two RBI). Another run-scoring single by Tweedie tied the game at 3-3 in the second, but the visitors left four runners on in each inning.
Griffiths was off the hook.
“That’s been our M.O. most of the season,” said Fryeburg coach Dave Jones. “We’ve had opportunities at the beginning of games that we’ve squandered. We gave (the Knights) opportunities and they capitalized. We didn’t.”
While Griffiths settled down, allowing only four men to reach over the last five innings, the Knights (4-2) never let Raiders’ starter Finn Chappell catch his breath.
Chappell (1-2) walked the first batter in each of his three innings of work and was touched for seven runs.
The Knights snapped a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the second when catcher Jackie MacVane scored on the front end of a double steal. In the third, it was the bottom of the order delivering the damaging blows with runners in scoring position.
No. 7 hitter Jake Sproul squeezed home Jason Lehr for one run before MacVane sent a hard groundball through the hole to plate Brent Cary. Ben Piper capped the three-run outburst with an RBI grounder to short.
The small ball strategy worked wonders for the Knights as they successfully worked three sacrifice bunts, the double steal and a hit and run.
“We’ve had trouble getting guys on base,” said Poland coach Dave Jordan. “We’re at our best when we get runners on.”
Poland scratched single runs off reliever Vince Osgood in the fourth and sixth innings. An RBI single by Adam Woodbrey extended the Knights’ lead to 8-3. Lehr scored Griffiths in the sixth on his second RBI double of the game. This one deflected off the glove of a diving Evan Humphrey in right. The runs proved to be more than enough insurance for Griffiths.