Potter, Devils stymie Cougars

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LEWISTON – Luke Potter didn’t hurl a perfect game or no-hitter Tuesday afternoon. The Lewiston High School senior didn’t even spin a shutout, for that matter. But it’s hard to imagine a high school kid throwing much better than Potter did against Mt. Blue.

Striking out a career-high dozen while walking none, Potter presumably pitched the Blue Devils into the Eastern Class A playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Cougars in an 87-pitch, 79-minute masterpiece at Franklin Pasture.

Between coaxing a ground ball to shortstop for the final out of the first inning and yielding a one-out triple to John Moloney in the sixth, Potter retired 14 straight Mt. Blue batters, striking out six in a row and eight of nine in one stretch.

“Luke saved one of his most dominant performances for his final (regular-season) game,” said Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli. “He put the team on his shoulders and set the tone, and I think others followed.”

Now 6-1 with seven complete games, Potter probably earned himself at least one more start before he graduates in the top 10 of his class.

Lewiston (7-9) entered the game trailing Hampden by a fraction of a Heal Point for the 13th and final spot in the regional preliminary round, but the Broncos don’t have any additional games to pad their point total.

“Lord willing, we’re in. We feel like it’s our turn,” Potter said. “It’s been over a decade since we’ve played some really good baseball. We got into the playoffs last year, but we’ve definitely taken it a step higher.”

The Blue Devils took control of Potter’s duel with Ryan Givens by plating three unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jon Paradis ripped an RBI double and Chad Kordalski pushed across another run with a single, bleeding the most available damage from two booted grounders and a throwing error by the Cougars (8-8).

“We have averaged probably four errors a game, and that’s the thing with us. We realistically could have been one of the top five teams in our league,” said Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin. “But we’ve made (mistakes) at inopportune times. They haven’t been in situations where there are two out and nobody on when we could get away with it.”

Lewiston committed only one error, and the Devils’ defense, particularly shortstop Chad Guimond, made a smattering of stellar stops when Mt. Blue did put the ball in play.

Potter handcuffed the Cougars twice this spring, permitting a total of three runs.

“He’s the best in the league. I don’t know why they save him for us,” joked Parlin, whose team also will make the playoffs and expects to travel to Edward Little, Oxford Hills or Brewer next week.

If there was a saving grace for Mt. Blue, it’s that Potter had such supreme command of his pitches that the Cougars found a few offerings up in the strike zone to their liking in the sixth and seventh innings. Steve Wells followed Moloney’s three-bagger with a two-out single to make it 3-1.

Potter added his own insurance run on a groundout to second after Guimond’s leadoff double and steal of third base in the bottom of the sixth.

Two-out singles by Bobby Duley and Justin Lowe brought the potential tying run to plate for Mt. Blue in the seventh, but Potter fittingly fanned Derek Hutchinson to end it.

Hutchinson was only the second hitter to work Potter to a three-ball count.

“I had excellent command of everything I needed to have,” Potter said. “I stayed ahead of hitters, which is what you need to do as a pitcher. And if I wasn’t ahead, I found ways to get myself back in a good position. My curve was working great.”

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