Potter propels Devils

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LEWISTON – Apparently, even when Luke Potter doesn’t have his best stuff, he and the Lewiston Blue Devils are unbeatable.

Potter overcame some early rust to toss a four-hit shutout, his second consecutive shutout, to lead Lewiston to a 1-0 win over Morse Wednesday. The right-hander has won all five of his starts and accounted for all of the Devils’ (5-6) victories.

“Luke should be proud of his effort, because I don’t think he had his best stuff,” said Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli. “The other thing was, I was very proud of our effort in the infield. We caught the ball behind him when he didn’t have his best stuff.”

Potter (seven strikeouts, four walks) pitched around the Devils’ only error, a misplayed grounder to short in the first. That miscue turned out to be harmless in part because catcher Eric Waite had thrown out a potential base stealer after Potter walked the game’s leadoff batter.

“I just didn’t have the stuff I’d like to have,” said Potter, who hadn’t pitched since blanking rival Edward Little on May 9. “I felt like I was throwing relatively well and my arm felt good. It just wasn’t coming out of my hand right today. Maybe it was too many days without throwing.”

“I had to fight today. I couldn’t have done it without my defense,” he added.

Potter helped himself out of his biggest jam in the second. After yielding back-to-back singles to start the inning, he fanned the next two batters swinging, then, following a walk to load the bases, got enough of a glove on a hard grounder back to the pitcher’s mound to slow the ball down and allow second baseman Dan Cloutier to reach it and throw to first to end the inning.

“Everyone feels real confident that he’s going to throw strikes. He’s not going to throw it around in the dirt,” said Waite. “He builds the confidence that we need.”

Potter settled down after the second, retiring the next eight in a row. Lewiston spoiled a fine effort by Morse starter Riley Walker (six innings, four hits, two Ks, no walks) by pushing the game’s only run across in the bottom of the second. Chad Guimond led off with a double, moved to third when the shortstop bobbled a grounder, then scored on Brian Nason’s ground out to second.

“(Walker) keeps them off-stride. He’s not overpowering, but he is smart,” said Morse coach Chris Wallace.

The Shipbuilders (4-7), who stranded seven on the day, left a runner in scoring position with nobody out in the sixth, then made a critical baserunning gaffe in the seventh. After a leadoff walk, Nate Fairfield squared to sacrifice the runner into scoring position. He pulled back on Potter’s first offering, but Waite caught the runner leaning too far off of the bag and fired to Cloutier covering first for the bunt.

“That was absolutely huge,” Potter said. “I don’t know how that inning goes if we don’t make a play like that.”

It certainly would have been a bit more uncomfortable for the Devils. Potter ended up walking Fairfield then, after his seventh strikeout, walked Dylan Moreau to put the tying and go-ahead runs on. But he got Walker to foul out to Waite to end the game.

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