LEWISTON — Lewiston has played solid defense this season, including a 2-1 loss to Cony nearly one month ago.
But there is no defense if Cony is executing as well as it did in Monday’s rematch.
This time, the Rams scored four runs on two suicide squeezes and a double steal and made Lewiston pay for its mistakes. Add in a three-run homer by Charlie Partridge and Cony earned a much more convincing 9-4 victory at Franklin Pasture.
“We did the little things today that you need to do to beat good teams, and Lewiston’s a good team,” said Cony coach Don Plourde, a Lewiston alumnus. “Obviously, Charlie found a pitch that he could get on top of and drive and he did. Those are things you need to do to win ball games.”
“Great job with the small-ball package by Cony,” Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli said. “We didn’t handle their bunts. We need to get outs off the small-ball package and we didn’t do a good enough job of that. We’ll work on that in practice. You can’t give extra outs to a team like Cony.”
Lewiston (8-5) had just rallied to tie the game, 3-3, when Cony (12-2) started the small-ball with a double-steal to score Corey Lapierre (3-for-3, two doubles). With runners at second and third and two out in the fifth, Jason Burns dropped down a suicide squeeze that scored Jake Lachance from third and a hustling Partridge from second to make it 6-3.
“When they came up to play us, I tried (a suicide) and I messed it up. I kind of pulled back. It was a bonehead move,” Burns said. “I just wanted to get the ball down. I knew if I got it down we’d score a run. Turns out we scored two.”
“Trust me,” Plourde said with a laugh, “when I was thinking about doing it, I said, ‘Do I do this again with Burnsy.”
“I told you I’d get the next one,” Burns interjected.
“I knew you would, I knew you would,” Plourde said.
Lewiston got a run to pull within 6-4, but Cony answered with another suicide squeeze, this one by Colin McKee, in the sixth. Two Lewiston errors, two walks and a hit batter pushed two more runs across for the Rams.
Lewiston outhit Cony, 9-7, but Cony starter Jake Beland (seven innings, seven Ks, one walk, one hit batter) got stronger the deeper he went into the game to pick up his sixth win of the year.
“I think he got comfortable,” said Burns, the Rams’ catcher. “I think at the beginning he was maybe overthrowing a little bit, but as the game went on he just got settled down and started hitting spots.”
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the second when Chris Jacques’ two-out single drove in Trey Ouellette (two hits), who had singled and stolen second. Lewiston’s first error opened the door for Partridge’s three-run homer to left in the third off Lewiston starter Luke Cote.
“It was an 0-2 pitch,” Cifelli said. (Pitching coach) Chris (Cifelli) went out to settle him down a little bit after that and the first thing that Luke said was ‘That pitch shouldn’t have gone there,’ which shows maturity beyond his years.”
Things got a bit heated in the bottom half of the frame after Scott Ouellette hit a one-out single and tried to steal second. The throw beat him, but Ouellette avoided the tag, overslid second, then dove back to the bag. The umpire called him safe, but the Cony fielder dove to make a tag inadvertently hit Ouellette in the face and knocked him off the bag, just as Cifelli was call time from the third base coaches’ box. Ouellette was called out.
The call ended up costing the Devils a run as Jeff Keene (two hits) and Trey Ouellette followed with back-to-back singles. Ben Wigant drove in Keene and Ouellette tied the game when Conroy LeBlond reached on an errant throw to first.