SOUTH PARIS – As tight as the KVAC has been this season, and as much as all of the coaches will say any team can beat any other on a given night, the collective watchful eye of the conference has now started to turn back to the defending champs at Oxford Hills.
Chris Jennings, who was the winning pitcher in last year’s Class A state title game, pitched five-plus innings, allowed five hits and just two runs to lead the Vikings past Edward Little 7-2 Wednesday afternoon at the Gouin Athletic Complex.
“I still hold my breath every game because every team in this league is so tough,” said Oxford Hill coach Shane Slicer. “So far, so good, but it’s one game at a time the way this has gone this year.”
The seven runs the Vikings (9-5) scored bring to 30 the number of runs the team has scored in its last three games.
“The big problem we had at the beginning of the year was the order, and all the new kids and young kids at new positions,” said Jennings. “Thirty run in three games, you should win all of those. The bats are a big part. They weren’t there at the beginning of the year.”
Edward Little, meanwhile, was uncharacteristically clumsy, which allowed the game to get out of hand in the fourth innings. The Eddies (7-5) also struggled to hit Jennings, who found the strike zone with a variety of off-speed offerings.
“He did what he had to do on the mound,” said EL coach Scott Annear. “He didn’t walk people and he didn’t allow it to hurt him, and his game plan was to keep throwing off-speed, off-speed. He executed that well.”
In the fourth, with the Vikings ahead 3-1, Ben Ryerson reached first on an error by the first baseman.
Justin Frechette followed that up with a single, and Ryerson scored on an infield hit by Dillon Trundy and a subsequent throwing error by pitcher Jacob Marcum.
“The errors will kill you every time,” said Annear. “We walked people, we made errors and we didn’t get hits when we needed them.”
Ethan Sutton then reached on an error by second-baseman Chris Merrill, and three batters later, after an Alex Waite single, the Vikings benefited from the fourth EL error of the inning, a bad throw by shortstop Kevin Smith.
EL twice tried to chip away at the lead, and even loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth to chase Jennings, but managed just one run in that inning.
The Eddies went quietly in the seventh, too, as Ryan Yates closed the door on three straight batters at the top of the EL order.