Oxford Hills’ starting pitcher Colton Carson rears back early in the game against Bangor. (Brewster Burns photo)
PARIS — When Oxford Hills’ Janek Luksza flied out to end the bottom of the fifth inning, his team was trailing Bangor by three runs.
By the time Luksza did step to the plate again, the Vikings were in the lead, and his RBI single provided just another insurance run.
The Vikings scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth — four unearned, and three with two outs — to rally past the Rams, 8-5, in a KVAC Class A baseball game between two of the top teams in the state at Tim Bryant Memorial Field on Saturday.
“I knew I was going to get another at-bat at some point,” Luksza said. “But in the sixth inning, that’s just huge.”
Bangor (6-1) broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the top of the fourth, in the process ending Colton Carson’s no-hit bid, and then his outing. Carson walked five batters, hit two more, and was done in by an error in the second, allowing two runs.
Carson walked Nick Canarr to lead off the fourth. Canarr then moved to second on a failed pick-off. A groundout put him at third, and he scored on Tyler Parke’s triple — the first hit Carson allowed. A Zach Ireland double drove in Parke and knocked out Carson.
“Colton didn’t have his best stuff,” Vikings (6-0) coach Shane Slicer said.
Troy Johnson came on in relief and gave up an RBI single to Noah Missbrenner before getting a groundout and a strikeout to end the inning.
Carson, the Vikings’ ace, gave up five runs — three earned — on just two hits and six walks while striking out one.
“He didn’t get some calls that I thought that he probably should have, and it worked our way,” Bangor coach Dave Morris said. “At the same time, we just tried to grind him out, and we knew that first inning, when we got — he threw a lot of pitches, that we were in a good shape. If we can get to their bullpen then we’ll have a better chance, honestly.”
Bangor starter Zach Cowperthwaite got knocked around in the first inning, giving up three hits and walk for two quick Oxford Hills runs. Then he settled down for the next four innings, save for a Luksza third-inning single, steal and a passed ball which put him at third with one out.
The Vikings’ time to strike came in the sixth. Ashton Kennison got the rally started with a walk before Will Dieterich singled. Johnson bunted back to Cowperthwaite, who threw high to first, allowing pinch runner Ty LeBlond to score and putting two more runners in scoring position.
“I think the error on the bunt really woke us up,” Slicer said. “We’re like, ‘OK, now we’re within two.'”
The Vikings brought those runners in against reliever Carson Prouty. Wyatt Williamson singled in one run and Jonny Pruett doubled in the other.
The scoring stalled for a moment at that point. Williamson got caught heading toward home on a botched suicide squeeze before Rod Bean ended up striking out for the second out. But Cam Slicer drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to keep the inning alive.
Slicer tested Prouty, steadily making his way to second on an attempted double steal. Slicer was able to dive under a tag attempt by Prouty, allowing Pruett to score.
“We just didn’t execute. In that situation we needed to give the ball to the second baseman,” Morris said. “Really it was a game of inches. You almost had him, you tag him out, they don’t score runs, tie it up. You don’t make that play and, obviously, worst-case scenario happened.”
“(Cam) knew exactly what his job was,” Slicer said. “And besides that, he’s quick, he’s got wheels, he was going to stay in that rundown as long as we needed. They have a real good pitcher coming in, but he was a sophomore, so he probably hasn’t seen that too many times. So it was a good time to do it.”
Hunter LaBossiere also walked a 3-2 pitch, and Slicer scored on a wild-pitch ball-four. Luksza then drove LaBossiere in with a single to center.
Luksza, who relieved Johnson and got the final out of the sixth, gave up a pair of singles in the top of the seventh, which were sandwiched around a strikeout, before inducing a pair of fly-outs to end the game.
“I knew I had great defense behind me, so I was trying to throw strikes,” Luksza said.
With Oxford Hills’ Jonny Pruett looking to make the tag, Bangor’s Zach Ireland holds onto the bag after sliding into third ahead of the throw on a stolen base. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills’ Jonny Pruett scambles back to first base but is tagged by by Bangor’s Noah Missbrenner on a throw from catcher Tyler Parke. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills’ Janek Lukska slides into third base safely ahead of the tag by Bangor third baseman James Neel. (Brewster Burns photo)After a diving stop, Bangor first baseman Noah Missbrenner makes a throw to pitcher Jonathan Neel covering first base to get the out. (Brewster Burns photo)Bangor pitcher Zachary Cowperthwaite throws to first base to get Oxford Hills’ Rodney Bean out on a sacrifice bunt. (Brewster Burns photo)