POLAND – Poland Regional High School dodged Falmouth, 5-3, and experienced both the perils and pure emotion of a one-and-done baseball tournament Thursday afternoon.

Down to its potential final six outs in a Western Class B quarterfinal, No. 1 Poland (16-1) was forced to substitute freely, squeeze and scamper its way around the bases to simply survive and host a Saturday semifinal.

Without a ball leaving the infield, the Knights chalked up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the last two on a bunt by Jake Pelletier and bold baserunning. Kyle Kyllonen was safe by a bundle, and Ben Piper added the insurance after a low throw to first base.

“I’ve had a couple (squeeze bunts) this season, and I’ve gotten both down, so I was pretty confident,” Pelletier said. “He’d been giving me strikes, and it was a good count.”

The tying run was a clinic in the little stuff, too.

Jackie MacVane drew a walk. Hard-luck losing pitcher Dan Walker balked pinch runner Joe Murphy to second. Kyllonen hit for Jake Sproul and pushed a textbook bunt between the mound and first to produce Poland’s third and final hit of the day.

Piper’s slow roller to third baseman Sam Barnes seemingly jeopardized the rally, but Murphy’s aggressive slide knocked the ball from catcher Pat Cunniff’s grip.

“We’re known for it,” Pelletier said of Poland’s small-ball sensibilities. “They were playing on the grass the whole time. They knew it was coming.”

No. 9 Falmouth (10-8) led all three games against its Western Maine Conference rival this season, giving away advantages of 9-1 and 3-1 (twice).

“I would like to have had a few more opportunities early on to produce a run,” said Poland coach Dave Jordan. “We try to take the philosophy that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep working, doing our stuff and good things will happen.”

Pelletier held the Yachtsmen hitless in the seventh to pick up his second save of the season.

Will Griffiths (5-0) worked three innings in relief of Joe Douglass. After surrendering a leadoff home run to Walker that made it 3-1 in the fourth, Griffiths allowed only one hit and struck out three.

“It’s because I fell behind, 2-0, 3-0 to the guy. That’s bad to begin with,” Griffiths said of his lone mistake. “I didn’t want to walk him.”

Poland’s first two runs against Walker (2-5) were unearned.

Tyler Merchant stroked a two-out single, stole second and hustled home on an error by the shortstop in the first. MacVane was hit by a pitch, advanced on a walk, took third on a wild pitch and scored on another booted grounder in the fourth.

“Dan Walker pitched a great game. His record doesn’t show the kind of pitcher he is,” Jordan said. “He’s faced all the top teams.”

Ryan Weeks delivered Falmouth’s first two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.


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