He pitched five solid innings and paced the Greyhounds at the plate as well in a 4-2 victory over Carrabec in a Class C South preliminary-round game at Doughty Diamond.

Francis’ first hit of the game — a two-out double to deep left-center in the bottom of the first went for naught. His second was more fruitful, driving in Ryley Austin with a single in the third.

By the time he got to the plate for his third at-bat in the fifth, the 11th-seeded Cobras decided to not even pitch to him at all, instead sending him to first on an intentional walk that loaded the bases with no outs.

“Not too often a freshman gets the respect by being put on late in the game in that situation,” said Ridley, Lisbon’s head coach.

The plan backfired for the Cobras. Starting pitcher Dustin Crawford was called for a balk pitching to Austin Fournier, which brought in one run. A Fournier bunt made it back to Crawford, who forced out Austin at home. But a wild pitch then drove in Francis. Noah Austin later brought in Fournier with an RBI single.

“I don’t regret that. He was 2-for-2,” Carrabec coach Cory Paquette said of the intentional walk. “It was a chance we took. It didn’t work out for us, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Francis said he used to get intentionally walked a lot in Little League, when he was the “big guy.”

He was big on the mound in Lisbon’s postseason opener. He scattered five hits while striking out four batters and walking none.

“I was locating my slider good,” Francis said. “My curveball was hitting its spots, but the slider is really my go-to pitch.”

More importantly than his pitches working, Francis’ confidence was as well. The freshman said he wasn’t nervous despite his youth.

“It’s just baseball, the same game I’ve been playing since I was young,” Francis said. “Just get up there and be calm and do what you’ve always done.”

Francis worked around trouble in both the second and third innings after tossing a 1-2-3 first. He struck out Lucas Murray with runners at second and third to end the second, then got an assist from his defense to get out of the third without a run.

Jacob Atwood led off with a slow roller past Francis for an infield single. Two batters later Atwood was at second when Tyler Reichert singled to right. Atwood rounded third and headed home, but Chris Normand’s throw from right field was relayed to catcher Nick Lerette in time to gun down a would-be Carrabec run.

“We did a great job getting the ball into the cut-off, great relay throw, great tag. It was a great play all around,” Ridley said. “And that’s momentum going your way because you just deflated them in that situation.”

The sixth-seeded Greyhounds then struck for their first run in the bottom half of the inning. Ryley Austin led off by reaching on a throwing error, then stole second to get into scoring position for Francis’ RBI single.

The Cobras countered with their only run against Francis in the top of the fourth. Hunter Fernald led off by feasting on Francis’ first pitch for a double to deep left. After Francis struck out Trent Richardson, Evan Holzworth bounced a single over the head of third baseman Noah Austin to drive in Fernald. Holzworth advanced to second on a throw home, then to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Francis again got out of a jam with a punchout.

Lisbon’s bats around Francis woke up enough in the fifth to do enough damage against Crawford, who went the distance for Carrabec.

“Dustin did great,” Paquette said. “It was one of the best showings he’s had this year. He really fought them hard and did a good job.”

Crawford gave up six hits in six innings, striking out four and walking just the two batters in the fifth.

They were free passes that cost the Cobras. Leadoff hitter Tyler Halls led off with a single past first, then Ryley Austin drew a walk before Paquette decided to skip past Francis.

“We got a rally inning, and then that was that,” Francis said of the fifth.

After the fifth inning Francis was done at the plate as well as the mound, moving to third while Halls came on to pitch. The Lisbon junior worked around a lead-off error in the sixth to strike out the side. He then got two quick outs in the seventh before walking Crawford on four pitches. Crawford stole second, then third, then scored on a wild pitch, but Halls struck out Reichert looking to end the game.

“Playoff games are never easy,” said Ridley, whose team beat Carrabec 9-2 in the regular season. “No matter what happens in the regular season, you face the same team again it’s going to be a totally different story. Always is.”

Carrabec ends its season with a 7-10 record.

“They’re a good team, we gave them our best, and they beat us,” Paquette said. “I’m proud of the way these guys fought all season.”

Lisbon (12-5) advances to the quarterfinals, where the Greyhounds will face No. 3 Madison on Thursday. The Bulldogs won the regular-season meeting 6-1 on the road. The rematch in the playoffs will take place in Madison.

“We got to come through a little bit more clutch hitting,” Ridley said. “Defense is there, I think our pitching will be there. We just got to come through with more clutch hitting this time around.”

[email protected]