PARIS — As a catcher, Matt Verrier often prods Oxford Hills pitchers into throwing strikes by reminding them that they can count on plenty of run support from the Vikings’ potent lineup.
Almost invariably, Verrier the hitter backs up the catcher’s words.
The senior homered, doubled and singled and drove in four runs to lead Oxford Hills to a 10-3 win over Edward Little Monday.
“We’ve been pounding hits and pounding hits lately, so if we can keep the other guys to four or five runs, we’re probably going to win the ball game,” he said.
Verrier set the tone in the first inning with a two-run blast to left off EL starter Mat Gordon.
“He was trying to throw me change-ups and he threw me another one 2-0. I was going to let it go but it was right down the middle,” he said. “I wasn’t looking to put it out, just looking to hit it hard and it went.”
The wind was blowing out to left at Gouin Complex, and two other homers were hit that way, one by EL’s Josh Delong and one by the Vikings’ D.J. Croy.
After the Eddies stranded runners at second and third with nobody out in the top of the second, the Vikings (3-0) added four runs in the bottom of the frame. Most of the runs came around on walks, passed balls, wild pitches and throwing errors. Kyle Farrar and Cody Hadley had RBI singles.
“Clearly (Gordon) has great stuff. We’ve got to get him into that mode of being a pitcher and not being afraid of them hitting the ball,” EL coach Scott Annear said.
In the third, the Eddies (0-3) cut the deficit in half against Oxford Hills starter Erik Henderson when Delong clubbed a two-run homer, then Luke Farrago (two hits) doubled and later scored. They had a chance to cut into the lead further in the fourth when Henderson hit Timmy Mains to lead off the frame and Cam Ivers hit a sharp grounder that tipped off the glove of the Vikings’ second baseman and into short right field. Mains stumbled and fell rounding second, however, and was tagged out after a short rundown, hampering another potential rally.
“We had a couple of situations with runners in scoring position and didn’t get them home, and that has been burying us this year,” Annear said. “Our bats are starting to come around and I just hope they’re starting to build some confidence.”
Farrago came on in relief to quiet the Viking bats through the middle innings. Oxford Hills got a run back in the fourth on Verrier’s RBI single and three more off a tiring Farrago in the sixth on Verrier’s RBI double, Hadley’s RBI single and Croy’s dinger.
“Obviously getting up 6-0 helped, but I thought we kind of sat back with the lead in the middle innings,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said. “We played well, though. We hit the ball again. Getting Gordon out of there was a plus, then (Farrago) pitched well. Give him credit.”
Henderson (six innings, six hits, nine Ks, two walks) muddled through the first four innings before finding a rhythm in the fifth. He struck out the side in the sixth, then gave way to Verrier, who closed it out with an inning of one-hit relief.
“He had a long lay-off. He had good stuff, though,” Verrier said of Henderson. “He has a heavy ball, but today he left a couple of balls up in the zone and they got some whacks on him.”