SOUTH PARIS — Cony and Oxford Hills staged two classic baseball games in the span of six days. Whether Friday’s sequel at Gouin Complex matched or surpassed the original last Saturday in Augusta is debatable. But it surely left fans wanting more.
Third baseman Kyle Farrar preserved a 1-1 tie with some spectacular fielding in the top of the sixth, then drove in the winning runs with a two-out triple in the bottom of the inning to give the Vikings a 3-2 win over the Rams in yet another nail-biter between the two teams.
“We definitely needed this one,” Farrar said. “This was huge after the last one.”
Erik Henderson, shaking off the affects of a sprained ankle suffered sliding into second base against Lewiston on Monday, scattered six hits and a walk around nine strikeouts to pick up the complete-game win.
Last Saturday, Cony came from behind three times and eventually won, 7-6, in 12 innings. In the rematch, Cony starter Ryan Minoty no-hit Oxford Hills through the first 5 1/3 innings before the Viking bats finally awoke with three key hits in the sixth.
“I never would have thought Minoty would have us no-hit into the sixth inning and we’d have a chance to win it still,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said. “It was nice getting his pitch count up. He was throwing pretty hard early.”
Minoty (eight strikeouts, six walks) walked five and hit two batters through the first three innings, but the Vikings weren’t able to scrape across more than one run, which scored on a wild pitch in the second. Minoty avoided further damage in the inning by striking out Matt Verrier with the bases loaded.
The Rams (11-2) gave Viking fans a case of deja vu from Saturday by immediately tying it back up on an RBI single by Charlie Partridge in the third.
Henderson escaped trouble in each of the first four innings. He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one out jam in the third, then stranded Tyler Rodrigue, who had reached on a one-out triple in the fourth. After watching Minoty find the strike zone in the bottom of the fourth by fanning the side on 14 pitches, Henderson topped that by striking out the top three hitters in Cony’s order on nine pitches.
“That really got my adrenaline going,” Henderson said. “My fastball was just all over the place today. My curveball was there. My fastball was mostly painting the corners. I threw a couple of knocks and struck out some kids with it.”
Cony started the sixth promisingly enough with back-to-back singles by Jason Burns and Nick Lucas. Henderson struck out Corey Lapierre, then got Rodrigue to ground into a force out at third. Farrar then robbed Michael Poulin of a hit and potentially the go-ahead RBI by diving to his left to trap a hard-hit ground ball and throwing out Poulin by half-a-step at third to end the inning.
“He’s saved me a bunch of times,” Henderson said of Farrar.
“We didn’t make the most of our opportunities and they did, and that’s the way it goes,” Cony coach D
With one out in the sixth, Ethan Davidson delivered the Vikings’ first hit, a clean single through the hole between short and third, on Minoty’s 102nd pitch. With two out, Henderson, who had been DH’d for the entire game, hit for himself and grounded a single through the middle to put runners at first and second. Farrar followed with a deep fly ball that the wind helped carry over the center fielder’s head to score the go-ahead run and a critical insurance run.
“He struck me out before that with two nasty curves,” Farrar said. “That last at-bat I got up, 2-1. He threw a fastball a little high.”
The Rams got a run back in the seventh on Luke Duncklee’s sacrifice fly, but Henderson got Partridge to ground out to Farrar to end it.
“It was a good win,” Slicer said. “We had a tough one up there, so it was good to come back and win. We needed the (Heal) points to stay in the top four. That will give us at least a home game for the first round if we take care of business the rest of the way.”