Breakfast at Wimbledon is still more than a month away, but breakfast at Morton is Saturday morning with the two top teams in the KVAC South trading volleys.
Oxford Hills faces Cony at 10:30 a.m. at Morton Field in Augusta, a game that was rained out on April 28.
“It’s a huge matchup,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer. “Any time you play at Cony, it’s going to be tough. I’m sure we’re going to get their ace (Ryan Minoty), although they have Brunswick on Friday. We’ll probably throw (Erik) Henderson. Hopefully, we’ll rebound (from a 3-1 loss to Brewer on Wednesday.)”
The Vikings are coming off their first loss, while the Rams, who are coached by Lewiston alumnus Don Plourde, dropped their only game (pending Friday’s Brunswick tilt) against unbeaten Bangor on May 7.
Minoty, a senior righthander, leads a pitching staff that had surrendered just 17 runs through its first eight games. Minoty combined with two other pitchers to no-hit Mt Ararat last month. Jake Lachance leads an offense that averaged six runs per game heading into Friday.
Henderson (2-0) will be well-rested. The right-hander’s last outing was May 4 against Mt. Ararat, an impressive two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts.
After starting the season 0-6, Gray-New Gloucester carried a three-game winning streak into Friday’s game against Lake Region. The highlight of the run was Wednesday’s 8-4 victory over defending state champion Greely, which avenged a 10-1 loss to the Rangers in the season opener. Taylor Valente’s towering three-run homer in the top of the first inning fired the first shot for the Patriots, who added a two-run triple by Heath Martell and three hits by Ryan Cavallaro.
With seniors Valente, Ryan Blenk, Jesse Ordway and Chris Norton getting on base in front of him, Cavallaro is hitting .448 with 13 hits, including six doubles.
“Our offense has really started to get going,” first-year coach Nolan Beckwith said. “We moved Ryan Cavallaro from the two hole down to the six slot to give him more RBI opportunities, and he has responded.”
Opponents are averaging three runs per game during the winning streak, a sign the Patriots’ pitching has also solidified behind the starting rotation of Valente, Ordway, who is limiting hitters to a .192 average, and sophomore Pat Robinson. Beckwith expects each starter to pull his weight during the regular season.
“A lot of high school coaches fall into the trap of pitching their top guy every other game on three days rest,” he said. “We have set up a three-man rotation… and this has allowed us to pitch on full days rest, and their arms are really starting to show the benefits of that.”
Backing up the rotation is newly-emerged closer Martell, who has allowed just one hit and notched two saves during the winning streak.
“He came to me a few games in and said that he wanted the ball and has been great,” Beckwith said.
Gray-New Gloucester went into Friday’s game with a slight edge over York for ninth place in the Western B Heals, which would be the final playoff spot if the season ended Friday. Their last six games are against Lake Region, Poland, York, Wells and Fryeburg, all teams that were behind, but still within striking distance of, the Patriots.
“When you start out the season with Greely, Freeport, Cape, Falmouth and Yarmouth, a lot of good teams could start 0-6,” Beckwith said. “Having a brand new coaching staff, we stressed to stay on track with the things we had been working on, and we would be right where we want to be at the end of the regular season.”
Odds and sods
Poland, which hosts Gray-New Gloucester next Wednesday, picked up a big 5-4 win over Falmouth on Monday. Ben Goyette was the hero with a two-run double in the top of the seventh that proved to be the game-winner. The Knights have a similar schedule to Poland down the stretch, except they are done with York and Wells for the season and will have a chance to pick up more points if they can upset Greely next Friday…Two KVAC teams trying to climb into Western B playoff contention are Oak Hill and Leavitt. Going into Friday, three of Oak Hill’s last four games were decided by one run —a 7-6 loss to Lincoln Academy, a 5-4 loss to Camden Hills and a 4-3 victory over Winslow on Wednesday. The Raiders have a chance to make some hay in the next week with Medomak, Nokomis, Maranacook and Mount View on the schedule. Leavitt, which like the Raiders started yesterday with a 3-5 record, has already matched its win total and is 3-1 at home. The Hornets will be on the road next week, at Mount View, Rockland and Belfast…Lewiston has a big stretch coming up over the next 10 days, with Oxford Hills, Brunswick and Cony on the ledger. The Blue Devils’ only losses came at the hands of the Vikings (9-7) and Rams (2-1), and they had a tight 5-4 win over the Dragons…After an 0-4 start, Edward Little has crawled back into playoff contention with wins over Morse, Lawrence and Messalonskee (with a tough 5-4 loss to Cony mixed in). Friday night’s game with Lewiston kicked off a big stretch for the Red Eddies, with Brunswick, Oxford Hills and Mt. Ararat on deck next week.