LEWISTON — Cody Hadley didn’t just witness Friday’s KVAC slugfest between Oxford Hills and Lewiston, he participated in it.
Once he got the call to the mound, he decided to put a stop to it.
Hadley shut down Lewiston with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and allowed Oxford Hills to come from behind with three runs in the sixth in a 9-7 victory at Franklin Pasture.
“Everything seemed to be working for me. I threw strikes,” said Hadley, who had an RBI single early in the game. “I wanted to get ahead in my counts. I had problems with that in preseason. I worked on it. Getting ahead in my counts is really key.”
Hadley relieved starter Nate Dubois with one out and two on in the fifth and promptly surrendered an RBI single to Conroy LeBlond which put the Blue Devils ahead, 7-6. Following another single, he induced a force out at home and a fly out to prevent further damage. After the Vikings took the lead in the top of the sixth, Hadley retired the final six Blue Devils, three on strikeouts.
The Vikings (2-0) showed their lineup’s depth with home runs from University of Maine-bound Matt Verrier (three hits, double, three RBIs) and No. 9 hitter Kyle Farrar. Andrew Keniston also collected a couple of hits, including a double, and scored three times, and Ethan Davidson added two hits with an RBI and a run scored.
“We hit the ball,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said. “We kept putting pressure on them. It was a great game. We’ve got to fix our base-running a little bit, but we played errorless ball.”
Indeed. The biggest sequence in what turned into a see-saw battle may have come in the first inning. Trailing 2-0, Lewiston leadoff man Corbin Hyde reached on a double. Scott Ouellette followed with a single to right which Jordan Croteau charged and threw to the cutoff man, first baseman Davidson, who wheeled and fired home to get Hyde. The Vikings then turned a 4-6-3 double play to maintain the two-run lead, albeit temporarily.
“That was huge,” Slicer said. “That was big for momentum, because if they got some runs on that … I think we came out of the gate well. It’s big when we can get some confidence and score early.”
The Vikings added another run in the second when Verrier’s long fly ball went off the glove of the retreating right-fielder. The Blue Devils got two back in the bottom of the second on LeBlond’s RBI double and Joe Sullivan’s RBI single, then took a 4-3 lead in the third on a two-run single by Mekae Hyde.
Oxford Hills (2-0) reclaimed the lead with three in the fourth off Sullivan thanks to Farrar’s solo homer and Verrier’s two-run bomb.
“It is pick your poison,” Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli said. “The way that you handle Matt Verrier is you get people out ahead of him. The people ahead of him today got on base and that makes the decision (on whether to pitch around him or not) tough, especially with Hadley hitting behind him.”
Lewiston (1-1) responded with some power of its own, as Mekae Hyde ripped a two-run shot to left-center off Dubois to make it 6-6 and LeBlond (two hits, two RBIs) added an RBI single to put the Devils in front for the last time, 7-6.
Scott Ouellette and Jeff Keene (two runs, two RBIs) finished with three hits apiece for Lewiston.
“I think that we’re a good hitting team when we’re disciplined,” Cifelli said. “We need to do little things on the bases and little things at the plate with our small-ball game to help those bats even more.”
The Vikings used a little small ball to take the lead for good in the sixth. They loaded the bases with nobody out against Lewiston reliever Trey Ouellette, then got a run across on a fielder’s choice ground out to second. Croteau then laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Verrier with the go-ahead run, and Davidson added the insurance with an RBI single.