LEWISTON – Ryan Lagasse thought waiting one year for a playoff win was long enough.

“It’s what we expected last year,” the Lewiston senior catcher said.

Well, Ryan, imagine how Lewiston fans must have felt, having to wait 18 years for a tournament win.

Eddie West starred on the mound and at the plate to lead Lewiston to its first postseason triumph since 1989 with an 11-5 win over 10th-seeded Cony in an Eastern Class A prelim.

The seventh-seeded Blue Devils will meet No. 2 Gardiner in the quarterfinals today in Gardiner at 4 p.m.

“It’s all about the kids’ work ethic,” said Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli, who has taken the Devils to the playoffs in each of his two seasons. “They’ve bought into what we’ve been preaching. Their hard work has come through.”

West (seven innings, five runs, all earned, six hits, three Ks, five walks) had to work hard on the mound at times, particularly in the middle innings. But some more hard work by his defense kept the Devils (10-7) in front for the duration of the game. Lewiston turned two double plays, committed just one error compared to Cony’s six, and center fielder Rob Leeman made a nice diving catch to end the game.

“Eddie battles,” Cifelli said. “He finds ways to get out of jams.”

“Anytime that people ruffle his feathers,” Lagasse said, “it’s always for the better, because he loves the competition.”

West was pretty competitive at the plate, too, collecting three hits, including a pair of two-run doubles.

“He was very patient at the plate,” Cifelli said. “All of our hitters were.”

Jon Paradis yanked a 3-2 pitch from Cony starter Corey Nason over fence in left to give Lewiston a 2-0 lead in the second. An RBI single by Leeman and three Cony errors opened the margin to 5-0 in the third.

West seemed to hit a bit of a wall in the fourth and gave up two runs. He got them right back in the bottom of the inning with his first double to right-center field.

“A little bit of wind doesn’t hurt,” West said with a laugh. “That’s the first time I’ve hit the ball the other way in a long time. I was pretty excited about that. JP (Jon Paradis) still beat me and got the (home run).”

The Rams (8-9) closed to within 7-5 on RBI singles by Jake Lachance and Greg O’Neil in the fifth. They threatened again in the sixth, putting runners at first and third with one out. But Erik Waite and Nick Blais then teamed up to turn a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.

“The middle infield really helped me out there,” West said. “We got some good plays in the outfield. We’re just getting into a groove now and playing some really good baseball.”

The Devils put the game away with four in the bottom of the sixth, sparked by two Cony errors and West’s second double.

Waite, Leeman, Paradis and Ryan Dube all had two hits apiece for Lewiston.

The Blue Devils lost to Gardiner back on May 4, 10-9. They outhit the Tigers, 13-7, and actually led at one time, 8-3.

“We had the tying run at second in the seventh and couldn’t pull it through, but we know we can play with them,” Lagasse said. “If we can play like we did today defensively and hit the ball, we can give them a good game.”


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