Oxford Hills’ Caden Truman slides back to first base safely before Lewiston’s Hunter Landry catches the ball during Wednesday afternoon’s game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

LEWISTON — Ethan Cutler may only be a sophomore, but he knows what it takes to pitch for the Oxford Hills Vikings.

Cutler threw strikes, worked efficiently and let his offense and defense take care of the rest in a 9-1 win over Lewiston at Joseph Deschenes Field on Wednesday.

Using an effective mix of fastballs and curves, Cutler allowed five hits, walked one and hit a batter on 78 pitches. He struck out one and got 17 of the remaining 20 outs on the ground, including four via two double plays.

Lewiston’s first baseman, Hunter Landry catches the ball before Oxford Hills’ Rodney Bean gets on base during Wednesday afternoon’s game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

“That was just what we asked for,” Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer said of Cutler’s outing. “We were down on our pitching (available due to make-up games), and for a sophomore, on his second outing, I thought he did great. He wasn’t nervous. He went right at them.”

The Vikings (9-0) gave Cutler all of the runs he would need in a two-run first, but they added six more in the fifth and one in the sixth to put the game away. Ashton Kennison led the offense with two singles and three RBIs. Rodney Bean reached base three times (two singles, walk) and scored three times.

Sam Laroche had two hits and knocked in Lewiston’s only run.

Oxford Hills put the pressure on immediately with two runs to start the game off Lewiston starter Owen Cox, who battled through a 38-pitch inning that ultimately shortened his outing.

After needing eight pitches to put leadoff hitter Cam Slicer away with a strikeout, he issued back-to-back walks to Rodney Bean and Janek Luksza and Kennison’s RBI single up the middle that made it 1-0. Janek Luksza scored the second run on a fielder’s choice.

“I think we’re more confident this year. We’re just hitting the ball better,” Kennison said. “We’re being more aggressive.”

Oxford Hill’s pitcher Ethan Cutler fires a pitch during Wednesday afternoon’s game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

“I thought Cox pitched very well. We had a lot more strikeouts (12 by Lewiston pitching),” Shane Slicer said. “But the offense is coming along easier than what it has the last few years with these kids just getting bigger and stronger.

“I thought what was the difference today was their plate discipline was great. Cam struck out (to start the game) but he had an eight-pitch at-bat and then Rodney had an eight-pitch at-bat and walked. So he’s got one out and he’s already up to 16 (pitches). If he could have gone the distance we might have been in a little trouble even though we had the lead.”

Cox struck out the side in the second and didn’t allow a run for the rest of his 85-pitch outing but was lifted after stranding a pair of Vikings in the fourth.

The Blue Devils (5-4) scored their only run in the second but ran themselves out of potentially tying or taking the lead.

Cox and Robert Dostie started the frame with singles, followed by a Laroche single that scored Cox and made it 2-1. After a ground out to third put runners at second and third, an alert Kennison got the Vikings out of the inning. After recording the putout at first on a ground out to short, he caught a Lewiston runner too far off the bag at second and threw over quickly to nab him for the double play.

“I saw (the runner at second) out of the corner of my eye,” Kennison said. “I saw he kind of slipped over there, so I gave it a shot.”

Lewiston’s Brandon Beaupre catches the ball before Oxford Hill’s Wyatt Williamson manages to slide in to second base during Wednesday afternoon’s game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

“Our approach at the plate, defense and base running, we’re just not very intelligent baseball players right now,” Lewiston coach Darren Hartley said. “We didn’t help our pitcher out, and yet with all that stuff it was 2-1 through four (innings). I just feel badly for that because we’re not getting it done offensively.”

“I take full responsibility,” he added. “I lost this game today because I didn’t have them prepared. But I told them everything, (including) our demeanor, is below average.”

That started a string of 11 Devils in a row retired by Cutler. Cooper Millett singled with one out in the sixth to break that up and seemed to break up Cutler’s command, as well, as he walked the next batter, Hunter Landry, then beaned Jack LeBlond. But he got out of the inning by inducing, then starting, a 1-2-3 double play.

“I was just throwing too inside,” Cutler said. “(Pitching out of) the stretch is sometimes a bit of a problem. I do better out of the wind-up. We got out of it. That’s all that matters.”

“He was throwing strikes and (Lewiston) hit it right at us. He had a ton of balls hit back at him,” Shane Slicer said. “I think being able to keep them off-balance was big.”

The first six Vikings batters reached base off Lewiston reliever Brandon Beaupre in the fifth and all six scored to break it open. Slicer started it by reaching on an error. Consecutive RBI singles by Kennison, Wyatt Williamson and Will Dieterich knocked in two, one and two runs respectively. Jonny Pruett plated the sixth run of the frame with a ground out.

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