AUBURN — The next time a high school baseball coach preaches about “winning the little battles,” he should show the footage of Walter Feeney’s at-bat Wednesday against Nate Pushard.

Six consecutive times, Edward Little’s ace threw a fastball. On every occasion, Oxford Hills’ left-handed hitting senior flailed and fouled it to the third base side, with a force that put the smiling faces in the Vikings’ dugout and spectator section in danger.

“It’s been a while since Walt’s had an at-bat, probably three games,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said. “He fought and fought and fought, and then Pushard gave in and threw an off-speed pitch. They were shifted over, and he put it where he should.”

Feeney’s shot down the other line past the dive of first baseman Brandon Knapp drove in the second run of the second inning, more than enough to back up Riley Chickering’s three-hit shutout in a 2-0 Vikings triumph at Austin Field.

“You’ve got to grind out at-bats like that,” EL coach Scott Annear said. “I don’t think Nate gave in. I don’t think that batter gave in. That was good work. It was good competition on both sides of the field.”

Chickering singled and Ty Martin doubled ahead of an RBI groundout by Matt Smith to set the table for Feeney.

Martin’s single in the fourth inning was the only other hit for Oxford Hills (7-3).

“I was just swinging at every pitch until I got the one that I liked,” Feeney said. “It was right down the middle pretty much. It was nice to get a hit like that since I haven’t gotten one in a while. It was awesome. It was a great inning for all of us.”

That staredown was the definitive battle of a pitcher’s duel between University of Maine at Farmington-bound seniors Chickering and Pushard.

Chickering surrendered only singles to Brandon Knapp, Mike Hammond and Brandon Varney. He struck out seven, walked only two — none after the first innings — and had two pickoffs.

“It’s great pitching with a lead, because then if I don’t give up any runs, we’re going to win, you know?” Chickering said. “I’ve had a really good season pitching so far.”

Pushard retired 13 out of 14 Vikings in one stretch. He struck out four and didn’t issue a free pass before handing it over to Hammond for a 1-2-3 seventh.

Hammond, in the sixth, was the only runner to reach second base all afternoon for Edward Little (6-5).

“That was good baseball. A couple of little balls here and there. Chickering and (shortstop Matt) Beauchesne, stop hitting it at him,” Annear said. “You know what’s coming. He’s got a good fastball and that breaking ball. The difference was not hitting. You can’t win ballgames with one man at second base.”

Chickering walked Drew Lashua and Lew Jensen in the first, but his pickoff of Lashua helped him escape the inning.

“In previous years I haven’t been very good with it, but I’ve gotten quite a few people this year,” Chickering said of his move to first base.

The pitcher also helped himself with the glove. After Knapp’s single in the third, Chickering pounced on Elijah Roe’s sacrifice bunt attempt and threw to Beauchesne to cut down the lead runner.

Hammond dropped the next ball into left field. Roe hesitated briefly to see if the ball would be caught, and Feeney threw a strike to Nick Attaliades-Ryan to get him at second.

Oxford Hills also got defensive gems from Martin at third base in the sixth and Beauchesne in the seventh. Representing the tying run in the sixth, Pushard gave one a ride to the opposite field, but Brady LaFrance cradled it about five feet from the wall.

“That was a well-pitched game on both sides,” Slicer said. “Both teams made some errors, but the kids were throwing the leather.”

EL committed three errors, but none were consequential — a far cry from Monday’s surprisingly one-sided 11-1 loss at Lewiston.

“We’re playing quality ballclubs and we’re a quality ballclub,” Annear said. “It’s the little things. We came out today with purpose and focus.”


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