TOPSHAM — Hard to choose one highlight from Oxford Hills’ 10-0 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference baseball victory Tuesday at Mt. Ararat.
Fourteen strikeouts and a two-hit shutout by Erik Henderson would be the main attraction almost any other afternoon. Not one Vikings fielder retired an Eagle by virtue of a batted ball until shortstop Cody Hadley flipped to Andrew Keniston at second base for the second out of the fifth inning.
“He was phenomenal,” Hadley said of Henderson. “I was just out out there chilling and chilling and then, hey, I finally got a ground ball.”
But it’s hard to overlook the home runs by Kyle Farrar in the fourth inning and Hadley in the fifth. Farrar’s was a three-run blast from the No. 9 slot in the order. Hadley hammered Nick Karkos’ offering off the blue tarpaulin mounted behind the fence in straightaway center at Kingdon Field, at least 420 feet from home plate.
“We only hit a couple all of last year,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer, whose team blasted the eighth and ninth round-trippers of its season-opening, six-game winning streak. “And Matt (Verrier) hit those. Cody already has three. That was Farrar’s second from the nine-hole.”
Hey, any other day, the University of Maine-bound Verrier hitting three fastballs on the screws for a healthy chunk of the Vikings’ seven hits would have been the chief story line.
It’s been that kind of start for Oxford Hills, which has outscored its first six KVAC opponents by a 59-14 disparity.
“By the end of the fourth inning, I came back in the dugout and one of my buddies said, ‘You know, you already have 12 Ks,’ ” Henderson said. “I was like, ‘Jeez.’ I just felt good. Honestly I didn’t think about having the lead. I just wanted to go out and throw strikes.”
Oxford Hills staked Henderson to a 4-0 advantage on the strength of Verrier’s RBI single and three Mt. Ararat errors in the top of the first. Henderson sat down eight in a row — the last seven swinging — after Torrey Charnock singled and Tim Bickford walked in the bottom of that frame.
Henderson again struck out the side after Bickford walked to lead off the fourth.
“If Erik continues to throw the way he did today, I think it’s safe to call him an ace,” Slicer said.
The right-hander encountered a mini-jam in the fifth, surrendering a single to Ryan Greene and plunking two Eagles while experimenting with a knuckleball. But he coaxed Bickford into a bases-loaded groundout to Hadley and silenced the threat.
Mt. Ararat (2-4) went down in order in the sixth to invoke the mercy rule.
“There’s definitely a lot more experience, and the confidence level is way up this year,” said Hadley.
Jordan Croteau pushed the Vikings’ lead to double digits with a two-run single in the sixth.
Six of the eight runs charged to Karkos were unearned. Mt. Ararat committed six errors.