AUBURN — Nine days ago, Edward Little baseball was on a rapid ascent toward a top-three seed in the Class A East playoffs. As of now, there are no guarantees the Red Eddies will make it into the playoffs at all.

It’s that kind of year in the KVAC, where the Eddies slipped below .500 with their fourth consecutive loss Wednesday afternoon, 8-3 to two-time defending regional champion Messalonskee at Austin Field.

Jake Dexter belted a three-run home run in the top of the first, and EL (6-7) squandered numerous opportunities to sneak back into it. Ten left on base and two double plays short-circuited multiple comeback bids.

“I liked how we responded right away. The kids came out with a great attitude of swinging the bats. They put on the gas,” EL coach Scott Annear said. “It’s a game of inches, and really it was not getting those runners earlier on. They’re a good ball club, so you really have to capitalize on those opportunities with them.”

EL left the bases loaded in the second and seventh innings. Messalonskee (10-3) ended both the first and sixth frames with a double play.

With University of Maine coaches watching him as part of a southern scouting swing, Dexter was 3-for-4 to lead the Eagles’ 15-hit barrage. Devin Warren singled and Zach Mathieu walked ahead of the junior second baseman’s 340-foot blast against Mike Hammond with one out in the first.

“It was a little up. I kind of got under it a little bit, and balls kind of carry out here, it seems,” Dexter said of his first high school homer. “I got lucky. It’s kind of a short porch.”

“Michael didn’t have his best stuff, but he worked his butt off. I liked the matchup. The mistakes he made up, they jumped all over it,” Annear added. “I don’t think he got it all, either. When they get their arms extended, they don’t miss those pitches upstairs.”

Hammond earned quick revenge in the bottom of the first, launching Ben Frazee’s first pitch over the left field fence to nearly the same spot.

Brandon Varney singled before Frazee plunked Evan Raymond and walked Brandon Knapp to load the bases. The rally fizzled on Nate Pushard’s room-service one-hopper to Frazee, who fired home to Trevor Gettig and triggered the 1-2-3 twofer.

Messalonskee made it 6-1 in the top of the second. Jared Cunningham’s one-out double preceded an RBI single by Gettig and a two-run knock from Mathieu.

“We needed that, because we weren’t hitting the ball the way I thought we could. Not that this would be common. This is actually just a good, fortunate game,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “I was very pleased with the defense, because we’ve been struggling in that part, too. Hopefully we picked a good day to turn it around.”

In addition to the offensive awakening, two diving gems by center fielder Warren and another by Dexter highlighted Messalonskee’s day.

Drew Lashua singled and later scored on a wild pitch in the EL second. But after hits by Seth Sterling and Hammond and a Raymond walk, Warren’s robbery of Lew Jensen saved at least two runs.

With runners at first and second and two out in the fifth, Warren, Dexter and shortstop Cunningham all converged on Pushard’s floater to shallow center. Dexter’s belly-first bid kept the Eddies off the board.

“Coach has been really emphasizing going for everything. We had a couple of balls drop in past games,” Dexter said. “Everyone was at that ball. I was pretty much the first one to go and get it. We all three could have caught it. We’re just trying to not let balls fall in.”

Sophomore Connor Garland, the second of three Messalonskee pitchers, singled in the fifth and doubled in the seventh before scoring both his team’s insurance runs. Warren provided the RBIs with a wall double and a sacrifice fly.

Hammond struck out five in 6 1/3 innings.

Lashua (2-for-4, two runs) singled and scored on a Luke Sterling fielder’s choice in the sixth, but Sterling was doubled up after Hammond’s fly out to Noah Caret in left field.

Warren fought gravity and snagged Raymond’s rope to the gap in right center for the second out of the EL seventh. It became a bigger deal when the Eddies loaded the bases against Caleb Bean before the senior struck out Lashua to end it.

Messalonskee has won back-to-back games to emerge from its own losing streak following an 8-0 start.

“We know it’s baseball and you might tend to have a rough spot in the season,” Dexter said. “We really want to take these last four games strong into the playoffs, because we know we’re a better team than we showed.”

EL has a makeup Thursday road trip to Skowhegan before home games against Lewiston under the lights Friday and Hampden on Monday. The Eddies need to win at least one of those, probably two, to solidify their place in the playoffs.

“We’re still in the mix. It’s about going out and playing good baseball,” Annear said. “There’s no mystery there. Just get the edge off and get rolling. Momentum’s the word.”


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