LEWISTON – Though at times uncharacteristically sloppy, the Oxford Hills defense clamped down when it had to against a stubborn Lewiston team, turning two double plays in the final four innings while not allowing a runner past first base to help the Vikings hold off the Blue Devils 9-6 at Franklin Field on Friday.
“We needed some big plays to calm (Lewiston) down,” said second baseman Ethan Sutton, the pivot-man on both of the double plays. “We’ve really stepped up our defense the last three games.”
The Vikings’ offense, meanwhile, after taking a few innings off to start the game, woke up later, benefited from eight walks issued by Lewiston hurlers and carried the load as Oxford Hills rallied from a 6-1 deficit to pull off its third win in a row.
On the other side, Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli was happy overall with the way his team played, despite blowing a five-run lead.
“Six runs is good, our pitching had been lights-out but wasn’t there today,” said Cifelli. “We knew it would be a battle. I thought we played better defensively, too.”
Robbie Leeman led the Lewiston offense, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Shortstop Brian Nason also hammered out two hits for Lewiston, as did catcher Eric Waite. In all, the Blue Devils (3-4) managed nine hits, six of which came off starting pitcher Alex Waite.
Lewiston answered a lone Oxford Hills (4-3) run in the second inning with a six-run barrage in the bottom half, getting a walk and three consecutive singles before the Vikings recorded an out.
“We really did not come ready to play in the first three innings,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer. “We’ve been playing good ball, but we played awful, just nonchalanting, just not having that hunger.”
Two walks, two hits and an error later, Lewiston led 6-1.
Ryan Yates relieved Alex Waite in the second and shut down the Lewiston offense from there, allowing just three hits and walking three with two strikeouts the rest of the way.
“(Yates) came in, didn’t know he was going to pitch at all, and (Lewiston) didn’t score again,” said Slicer.
The Vikings started chipping away in the third, getting one more run off Lewiston starter Ryan Dube before the floodgates opened in the fourth.
“I think we started to take the lead for granted, and my pitching fell apart,” said Dube.
Ben Ryerson and Chris Roy walked to lead off the fourth, and after a sacrifice bunt, Dan Millett drove both runners in with a single, and after two more walks, two more runs crossed courtesy of a single by Chris Jennings and an Alex Waite sacrifice fly.
“We realize now it’s possible to come back from deficits,” said Millett. “We just got the bats going.”
Oxford Hills got things going in the sixth off reliever Nate Parker. Millett reached on a throwing error by Nason, Russell Estes singled to drive Millett in and Jennings followed that with another base hit. A wild pitch from Lewiston third pitcher, Chad Guimond, and a subsequent pair of walks brought home the Vikings’ final two runs.
Danny Cloutier grounded into his second double play of the game in the sixth and Jon Paradis was caught looking to end the game in the seventh with a runner on first to end the game.