Buckfield Shane St. Pierre makes a great catch on a deep fly ball to the outfield during Monday’s game against Richmond. (Sun Journal File Photo)

Ben Keene has coached for Buckfield for two years (last year as an assistant), long enough to know that East-West Conference rival Richmond is the team many of his school’s teams measure themselves against. 

The Bucks came up well short in their first meeting with the Bobcats, losing 11-1 on Monday. But now they know how much they have to improve, and finally some time to focus on improving.

“Richmond is the next tier, the one step ahead, in most sports. Richmond is the team to beat,” he said. “(After the game), I reiterated to the team that if that’s the team to beat then you have to play like them. They stepped off the bus determined to come here and win.”

Like most teams in central Maine, the Bucks started the season having spent little time on anything but a makeshift indoor diamond.

“We had one outdoor practice before our first game,” he said.

Their first two games were against Class C playoff contenders Traip Academy and Old Orchard Beach, two teams that had spent significantly more time outdoors. The results, 10-0 and 11-1 losses, were indicative of how far behind the Bucks were.

The Bucks thought they were headed in the right direction with a doubleheader sweep of Class D Temple Academy. Then they committed five errors and allowed nine unearned runs against Richmond.

The schedule makers gave the Bucks a much-needed break after the loss. They don’t play again until next Tuesday at Waynflete. 

“It’s a week to get our heads screwed back on and kind of get us in the mindset. We couldn’t have asked for a better time for that week because we have a lot of work to do,” Keene said. “All the little things that I thought we had figured out, we clearly didn’t.”

Buckfield will have a few more days to adjust off of the Waynflete game as they prepare for next Saturday’s conference game against Forest Hills, then hit the road to Bingham for another EWC opponent, Valley.

Greyhounds pitching in

One of the question marks for Lisbon’s C South title defense prospects was its pitching depth. Even with juniors Lucas Francis and Noah Austin and senior Nick Austin back in the fold, coach Randy Ridley wondered how the pitching staff would handle the graduation of last year’s workhorse ace, Tyler Halls.

The depth has been test almost immediately as the Greyhounds played their second, third and fourth games of the season on consecutive days earlier this week — all wins.

Senior Sean Scott and sophomore Levi Levesque by combining for six solid innings in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Dirigo, while Noah Austin picked up the victory with one inning of scoreless relief.

“They’ve responded,” Ridley said. “They’ve done a very good job — Sean Scott, Levi (Levesque) and Noah Austin did a great job. Nick Austin pitched a heck of a game (in Wednesday’s 20-2 win over Oak Hill in five innings).”

“The pitching has been the biggest joy to see because of all of the pitching we lost from last year,” Ridley said.

The Greyhounds are scheduled to play their fourth game in five days at Telstar on Friday.

Raiders of the lost confidence

A dramatic comeback in the season-opener against Mt. Abram originally thought to be a springboard into Oak Hill’s season wasn’t enough for the Raiders to take on the toughest part of their schedule. 

They have lost four in a row since then, to some of the top teams in the conference — Lisbon, Dirigo, Mountain Valley and Spruce Mountain. Coach Chad Stowell said the Raiders need to get back to playing with some more self-assurance.

“We are a very unconfident group, and I feel like we just need a little bit of a break,” Stowell said. 

The Raiders started just one senior in Wednesday’s 20-2 loss to Lisbon. Two sophomores and two freshmen — including pitcher Gavin Rawstron — were in the lineup, along with four juniors.

“This is a different obstacle for us. This is a little bit of a different animal,” Stowell said. “Lisbon is one of the top echelon teams in this league and I think the guys that we have on this team know that. I think they felt a little more confident against a team like Mt. Abram, a team that hasn’t had as much success in the past. I think there’s a little bit of a mental block against some of these teams.”

 While the win against the surprising Roadrunners (3-3) is starting to look better in hindsight, games in the next week against Mountain Valley, Telstar and Wiscasset could set up the Raiders with some confidence to make a playoff push heading into the second half of the season.

“I don’t think we’re really that far away. I think if we get that two- or three-inning spurt, maybe we’ll say maybe we can hang with these guys,” Stowell said.

That’s a no-no

Telstar and Mt. Abram each celebrated no-hitters in the last week.

Mt. Abram’s battery Hunter Warren and Luke Kearing teamed up for its no-hitter in Saturday’s five-inning 16-0 win over Wiscasset. More accurately, they tag-teamed the Wolverines. Warren pitched to Kearing for the first three innings before switching places with Kearing and catching him for the last two.

Kearing also starred offensively with three hits, including a home run.

Zachary Hill had considerably less margin for error on Monday when he tossed a complete game no-no in the Rebels’ knuckle-biting 1-0 win over Boothbay. He struck out nine and walked just one, but had to fend off the Seahawks’ errors-induced attempt to rally in the seventh to secure the win and the milestone.


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