SOUTH PARIS — A low-key approach to hitting earned the Oxford Hills Vikings a tongue-lashing from their coaching staff during preseason.

The Vikings bats did the lashing in Wednesday’s KVAC opener with Mt. Blue. A five-run fifth was enough for them to withstand the resilient Cougars and start the season with a 6-4 win.

Dylan Cox and T.J. Martin had two-run singles to spur the big inning. Cox and Dalton Rice, who also picked up the save, led the Vikings’ eight-hit attack with two singles apiece.

Walter Feeney picked up the win on the mound with six strong innings in which he gave up one unearned run, two hits and four walks to go with four strikeouts.

The game was moved from the still-thawing Gouin Athletic Complex to the field behind the school. But the Vikings showed how comfortable they are on the backup field by turning a couple of double plays and executing a 1-3-6 pickoff that helped Feeney blank the Cougars through the first five innings. Shortstop Matt Beauchesne also robbed Bradley Jackson of a hit with a diving catch in the second.

Jackson, Jordan Whitney and Colton Lawrence collected Mt. Blue’s three hits.

The Vikings tested Mt. Blue starter Cam Abbott, who is making his way back from an ACL tear suffered during the Cougars’ run to the Class B football title and is pitching with a brace on his right knee. Abbott allowed a hit in each of the first four innings and wiggled his way out of a couple of bases-loaded jams in the second and fourth.

“I thought it was a pretty clean game. The pitchers pitched pretty well,” Slicer said. “That Abbott kid is going to win some games. He’s a good pitcher. We just had a good inning. We finally got some timely hits.”

Cox got the Vikings off the schneid with a one-out, bases-loaded single to center.

“I was trying to keep it on the ground,” Cox said. “The wind actually worked in my favor. I didn’t get all of it but I got just enough so it fell right in between (the center fielder and infielders).”

An errant throw back into the infield put Martin at second and Dalton Rice at third. After a ground out back to the mound, Martin singled to center field to make it 4-0. Matt Beauchesne drove in the fifth run with a single.

“I thought Abbott pitched a good game for us,” Mt. Blue coach Dave Pepin said. “He just missed a spot. A couple of pitches here or there either way could have changed the bottom of the fifth, but we didn’t get the call.”

Throwing strikes is a point of emphasis for Feeney this season. And the junior southpaw was on target most of the day, especially with his curve ball, through 3 2/3 hitless innings.

“It was diving pretty good,” Feeney said. “I was able to throw strikes first pitch a couple of times.”

Not that the Cougars weren’t making good contact. Feeney benefited from some good defense.

“They squared the ball up. I thought our defense was good and Walter did not walk many until he got tired,” Slicer said.

A baserunning mistake helped the Vikings turn a 7-6-3 double play in the third. Cox caught a liner to left, saw the runner at first hadn’t broken stride on his way to second, and Beauchesne had all day to make the relay throw to first for the double-up.

“I looked up and the guy was halfway to second base. Usually they freeze on a line drive, but I think the wind might have held it up. That probably would have been a base hit any other game.”

“That was really awesome. It made me feel great,” Feeney said. “The defense gave me a big boost.”

Two walks and an error got Mt. Blue on the board in the sixth. Oxford Hills answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the frame to maintain the five-run lead.

Beauchesne relieved Feeney to start the seventh but yielded a bases loaded walk and a balk that made it 6-3. Rice relieved him and talked in another run but fanned two of the three batters he faced to close it out.


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