Edward Little’s Ben Cassidy runs down a sharply hit line drive to the outfield to record an inning-ending out during Monday afternoon’s game against Oxford Hills at Auburn Suburban. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — A momentum shift Monday afternoon propelled Edward Little to an 8-1 victory over Oxford Hills in a KVAC baseball game.
With the game tied at one in the top of the fifth, Oxford Hills coach Sane Slicer knew his team needed runs, especially with the way Grant Hartley was throwing the ball on the mound for the Red Eddies. With Will Dieterich at second base with one out, Cam Slicer hit a ball to Maxx Bell at third base for an everyday groundout.
Dieterich was aggressive on the base paths as he rounded third trying to get that all-important go-ahead run. But he thought better of it, and EL first baseman Ethan Brown threw it back to third to try to get Dieterich sliding back to the base.
The ball missed its mark and went into foul territory. But it bounced off the fence right to EL third baseman Maxx Bell, who wasn’t covering third base on the throwback. Dieterich was making his way home when Bell rifled the ball to catcher Giles Paradie, who applied the easy tag on Dieterich to end the inning.
The wind left the Vikings’ sails. Shane Slicer took blame for the play.
“I was a little too aggressive on that. It wasn’t (Dieterich’s) fault, that was my call,” Shane Slicer said. “We were trying to manufacture something and be aggressive. They got a good bounce off the fence and it didn’t go far enough (down foul territory), they made a good play on it.”
Red Eddies coach Dave Jordan thought fundamentals by the infield made the third out happen.
“I thought our guys in the field were doing a real good job of hustling and backing each other up,” Jordan said. “If the ball was hit, they were hustling and trying to make a play. That ball was an errant throw, but Maxx did a great job backing the ball and throwing a strike to Giles.”
The Vikings (6-1) only managed one hit after the fifth inning.
EL (8-0) responded in bottom half of the fifth. Jake Arel and Hartley had back-to-back singles, and Paradie was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ben Cassidy crushed a ball that dropped in for a double to score Arel and Hartley. Christian Beliveau flied out to score Bell.
Oxford Hills got out of the inning when EL’s Nick Hathaway grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.
Arel had four hits for the Red Eddies.
“I was seeing the ball really well. I was relaxed and acted like it was a normal game,” Arel said. “It just worked for me.
“When I got on, it gave (my teammates) momentum to get me around to home.”
The Red Eddies doubled their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Austin Brown reached on an error and moved to third on Arel’s double. Hartley was intentionally walked to load the bases. Bell hit a single to score Brown, but Arel was thrown out at home. Hartley scored on a Ben Cassidy single, and Cassidy moved to second on the play. Beliveau’s second double of the day scored Bell and Cassidy.
“Four-one, we are still in the game, we know we can come back from that,” Slicer said. “That kid got a double in that situation, when they got up to eight, that’s tough against Grant. He was pitching well, you have to tip off your hat to him. We had to load the bases — once when Grant was up, so that was an easy call — but we had to get a force situation.”
The scoring started in the bottom of the second. Paradie reached second on an error by right fielder Troy Johnson. Paradie came around to score on a Beliveau double down the left-field line. Lukska was able to get the next two batters out as Ethan Brown flied out to center and Jayson Taylor stuck out.
“It just happened (Lukska) was throwing a lot inside to me, so I took advantage of it and just pulled it right down there,” Beliveau said of his two doubles down the left-field line.
The Vikings responded in the top half of the third. Dieterich belted a double to left-center field and Johnny Pruett moved him to third on a sac bunt. Dieterich scored when Cam Slicer grounded out to second base.
Hartley went the distance with seven strikeouts, allowing three hits and four walks. Janek Luksa went into the sixth inning for the Vikings, striking out three and allowing 11 hits.
“Grant is playing with a lot of confidence, which he should,” Jordan said. “He’s hitting the ball well and his pitches have been fantastic and he was throwing strikes, hitting his spots. When you throw strikes, good things happen.”
Edward Little’s Giles Paradis dives back safely to second after being caught in a rundown during Monday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Edward Little catcher Giles Paradis tags out Oxford Hills’ Wyatt Williamson at home plate during Monday’s baseball game at Auburn Suburban. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Edward Little’s Ben Cassidy gets back to third base safely before being tagged by Oxford Hills’ Rodney Bean after being caught in a rundown during Monday’s game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Edward Little pitcher Grant Hartley delivers a pitch during Monday’s game against Oxford Hills. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)