LEWISTON — Sometimes you play the percentages, and sometimes the percentages play you.

Leading 2-1 and embroiled in a fifth-inning jam Friday afternoon, Lewiston went by the book and walked two of Messalonskee’s most vaunted hitters, Jake Dexter and Zach Mathieu, with first base open.

Each time, however, a game-of-inches base hit by Jonathan Wilkie and Devin Warren made the Devils pay dearly. Warren’s bad-hop single was the poke that put the two-time defending Class A East champions ahead to stay in a 7-2 victory at Deschenes Field.

“We got in a situation where they had a lot of speed and a lot of guys that can really swing it in that area. With a young team, we were looking at how can we make it easier for ourselves?” Lewiston coach Dave Jordan said. “We had a ball hit off the first baseman’s glove. We had the third baseman set up for a play and the ball bounced over him. That’s baseball. If those balls are caught, it’s probably a different game.”

Lewiston (1-1) was a whisker away from escaping the inning with ease.

After a leadoff walk by designated hitter Connor Garland, Blue Devils starter Matt Poulin gloved a comebacker to start a would-be double play. Caleb Bean beat out shortstop Mike Wong’s throw to first, however.

Bean advanced to second on Jared Cunningham’s groundout, convincing Lewiston to pass Dexter and take its chances with Wilkie. Poulin worked the lefthanded-hitting catcher to a 1-2 count before Wilkie slapped one down the line just past the glove of diving first baseman Kyle Ullrich for a double.

“We try to organize our lineup that way, too, but you just never know,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “It worked out in our favor. I would have done the same thing. That was the better odds.”

Lewiston then ushered Mathieu to first, loading the bases for Warren. His shot was hard but playable, until it took a nasty carom off the weather-worn turf and over the left shoulder of third baseman Austin Wing.

Dexter scampered home with the eventual winning run. Poulin coaxed Ben Frazee into a popout to third for the final out of the inning, but the damage was done.

“We gave up two runs with the bases loaded, and when they came in I praised the hell out of them, because last year we would have given up 10 in that inning,” Jordan said.

The Blue Devils scored both their runs in the third inning. They never nudged another runner past second base against the pitcher-by-committee arrangement that launched the Eagles (1-0) to a state title in 2012 and a regional crown in 2013.

Josh Casey picked up the win by working the fourth, fifth and sixth in relief of Frazee. The southpaw surrendered only a two-out single to Eddie Emerson in the fifth.

Kyle Morin and Wong slapped singles against Dexter to invigorate the Devils in the seventh, but the Eagles closed it out with a 4-6-3 double play.

“We’ve been fortunate enough the past couple years because of what we had available,” Bernier said. “We’re just talking about that now, trying to get people to commit to their roles, because we have to move people around (defensively) to do that.”

Messalonskee pitchers combined for nine strikeouts.

Warren went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a triple to punctuate a three-run seventh. He also piggybacked Mathieu’s two-out double with a run-scoring single in the first.

The Devils left Emerson and Nick Perreault stranded in scoring position in the first before grabbing the lead in the third.

Wong was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He advanced all the way to third when Gage Cote hustled out a sacrifice bunt attempt for a base hit.

Emerson (2-for-2) plated Wong with an infield single, and Cote raced home for the lead after the late, errant throw to first.

Frazee fought back, striking out Poulin and Wing to halt the rally and complete his stint.

“You have to make the best of your opportunities. They did, and I thought there were times early in the game when we didn’t capitalize and get more runs early, and it came back to get us,” Jordan said. “But overall I’m very pleased with how we played against an opponent of that quality.”

Poulin pitched well to back up Emerson’s two-hit shutout of Hampden on opening day. He gave up an unearned run in the sixth before departing with no strikeouts, but only one non-intentional pass.

“He made a lot of tough pitches to get guys out,” Jordan said. “You can’t make every pitch, and when we did miss a few they made us pay.”


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