Rockland coach Joe Nelsen Sr. said after his team’s 4-3 victory over Leavitt on Wednesday that he had a hard time getting a good read on Leavitt based on the scores of their first 10 games.
Imagine how the Hornets’ own coach feels?
Leavitt’s scores show the schizophrenic nature of coach Dave Bochtler’s team — wins of 10-9, 9-8, 17-5 and 18-8, losses of 4-2, 24-11 and the 4-3 decision against Rockland. The Hornets have played in five games decided by two runs or less and have a 2-3 record as part of their 4-7 mark heading into Friday’s game against Belfast.
If nothing else, the Hornets are learning that baseball can be a fickle game. When they play well, they can still lose. When they play poorly, they can still win.
“We had a game against Winslow where we had one error that didn’t cost us a run, we didn’t give up a walk, we only struck out three times the whole game and lost (7-5),” Bochtler said.
Bochtler started the season trying to get as much as he could out of an effective starter or reliever, even if they tired or had gone through the order a couple of times. Lately, he’s been keeping his pitchers — Matt Bilodeau, Christian McBreairty, Tim Dow, Tyler Hutchinson and Josh Bunker — on a short leash.
“Last year we had an ace in Shawn Berry and this year we don’t have that ace,” he said. “We’ve got to throw three or four kids a game because I don’t have that kid with dominant stuff.”
“When we get in trouble, when we get in those bad innings, is when we ask our pitchers to make five outs in an inning,” Bochtler said.
The Hornets (4-7) have some work to do to sneak into the Western B playoffs, but they will have several chances to pick up Heal Points in the next 10 days. They have a make-up date with Belfast from Friday’s rain out, plus road games at Waterville, Maranacook and Gardiner and a home date with Oak Hill next Wednesday.
Final curtain call
The weather this week created an interesting twist in the final chapter of the Jay/Livermore Falls rivalry.
Because Thursday’s scheduled game at Livermore Falls was rained out, the Tigers and Andies are scheduled to play next Thursday and Friday at Griffin Field, the final games between the two schools before they merge and become Spruce Mountain next fall.
“It’s fun because you’re playing your friends. We don’t want to lose the last game ever,” Livermore Falls senior outfielder Alex Rose said. “We need to win so we can get into the playoffs.”
The rivalry took on extra meaning for Livermore Falls coach Brian Dube earlier this month, as he picked up his 150th career win in the Andies’ 15-4 win over the Tigers.
Leading up to the game, Dube was able to keep the milestone a secret from all of his players but Rose, who recalled the coach telling him how many wins away it was last year and kept track as Dube neared the mark.
At the end of the game, Rose saved the game ball and presented it to Dube.
“He told me we had to win four games to reach 150,” Rose said. “I had them marked off on my calendar, and when Jay came it was 150. I caught the final out and gave it to him and said ‘Hey Coach, congrats on 150.’ He said, ‘Thanks Rose, I didn’t know you knew.'”
Roadrunners getting up to speed
After a mini-run of playoff appearances, Mt. Abram is back in rebuilding mode, sporting a 2-10 record after Friday’s 10-4 loss at Livermore Falls. But first-year coach Lee Nile is excited about his team’s future.
“I’m starting four freshmen in key positions and they just don’t quit,” said Nile, who has just one senior. “My catcher (Sol Fast), my third baseman (Cal Dixon), my first baseman (Arthur Ryan) and my right fielder (Johnathan Hart) are all freshmen. My shortstop (Jay Chenard) is a sophomore, and he’s on base all the time.”
Chenard reached base in all four plate appearances Friday, including a double, single and walk. Friday’s starting pitcher, junior Josh Beedy, is the team’s ace and has shown flashes that could lead to him being one of the top starters in the MVC next year.
“The little stuff they don’t know sometimes. That’s okay. It’s stuff that we haven’t had the time to work on because we’re working on the basics because we’re so young,” said Nile, a former assistant at Mt. Blue. “We’re so much better than we were two months ago. We’ve done nothing but stress fundamentals.”
“But that’s what they need at this point. They’re young. They haven’t had a lot of playing, and especially where we have four separate middle schools, they haven’t done a lot of playing together,” he added. “The future’s bright. We’re starting to get there.”
Nile calls his team the best four-inning team in the MVC because they have hung with, and even led, some of the league’s top teams early in games, only to have one mistake-filled inning do them in. Once they eliminate those mistakes, they’ll finish more games on top.
“We’ve had Dirigo on the ropes in the fourth inning both times we’ve played them. We were up, 6-4, the first time we played them and lost 10-7. The other night we were up 4-3 or 5-3 after four and then the wheels fell off (in an 18-10 loss),” he said. “They’re starting to figure it out.”