AUBURN – Alex Waite just wanted to pitch.
“He told me he wanted to go,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer. “He told me his elbow was going to hurt one way or another, so he might as well try it out.”
Less than a year removed from separating his throwing elbow, Waite took the mound Friday against a red-hot Edward Little team and shut the Eddies down for four innings. Despite another furious EL comeback attempt late in the game, the Vikings took advantage of two hits, a walk and an error in the top of the seventh to eke out a 9-6 win over the Red Eddies at Pettengill Park.
“We finally scored,” said Slicer. “We hadn’t scored a lot in a long time. It’s a good win for us; we needed to get back on track.”
Waite wasn’t dominant from the mound, but still confused Edward Little’s lineup enough to get through it twice.
“He did an awesome job at pitching,” said EL coach Scott Annear. “Clearly he didn’t come out with a blazing fastball and a drop dead curve ball, but he pitched. He moved the ball in and out. We popped out a lot and he made us swing at pitches we shouldn’t have.”
At the plate, Waite was unstoppable, going 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles and four runs scored.
“This is the first time I’ve actually faced a pitcher that pitched a four-hole hitter right in the middle,” said Waite. “They’ve always pitched me to the outside or to the inside. Tonight, it was all right down the middle.”
But Waite wasn’t the only one producing for the Vikings, who finished with 12 hits, easily their best outing of the young season.
After EL starter Adam Redmun set the Vikings down 1-2-3 in the first, Waite started the second inning by drawing a walk. Ryan Yates followed with another free pass and Ben Ryerson laid down a perfect bunt for a single to load the bases. Chris Roy got the first run across with a sacrifice fly, Mike Foley followed with a single and Ryerson scored on a Dan Millett single.
“We’ve been getting behind early,” said Slicer. “I think that was killing our confidence. Now, when we get up early, we can start doing a few more things aggressively.”
EL (3-2) mustered just one run in the first five innings, that coming on a Kyle Giguere single which plated John Alexander. The Vikings (2-3) also plated a run in the third on back-to-back doubles by Waite and Yates.
The Vikings pushed two more across to take a 6-1 lead in the fifth, but EL finally got the bats cranking in the sixth. The first five Red Eddies to bat in the inning all reached, and all later scored, tying the game at six.
“Our hitters just need to get batter at-bats early in the game,” said Annear. “
In the seventh, though, Waite again led off with a double. Yates walked and Ryerson again laid down a bunt. All three later scored to put the Vikings ahead by three.
“Two people were on, first and second both times with no outs,” said Ryerson of his two bunt singles. “Coach knows I’m probably the best bunter on the team, so just to put it down and sacrifice over was the goal, but I hit it to the right spot both times.”
EL loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with just one out, but Chris Merrill, whose error in the field led to two Oxford Hills runs in the top of the inning, grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the game.