Edward Little’s Ben Cassidy slides into home plate as Lewiston’s Keegan McLaughlin attempts to make the out during Thursday afternoon’s baseball game in Auburn. Sun Journal photo by Andree KehnAUBURN — Lewiston shortstop Owen Cox needed to act quickly and decisively when Chase Martin’s grounder bounded toward him in the sixth inning of a one-run game.

With the tying run on third, two out and the Blue Devils leading Edward Little 3-2, Cox started in and to his left at the ping of Martin’s bat. The ball was hit sharply and with some top-spin, which forced Cox to change direction from his left to his right as he charged toward the ball. All the while, the junior had to keep one eye on the base umpire, who was positioned almost directly in front of him.

With enough of his momentum still going to his left to prevent him from getting a glove on the baseball, Cox had no choice but to field it with his bare hand, which he did cleanly. After a quick bobble in his hand, he fired to first to get Martin by about a step, end the inning and preserve Lewiston’s lead.

The buoyed Blue Devils added four more runs to their lead in the next inning and Cox, pitching in relief of starter Hunter Landry, limited Edward Little’s final rally to one run for a 7-3 win in the rivals’ regular-season finale at Auburn Suburban Little League’s Austin Field on Thursday.

“(The umpire) was kind of interfering. I think it went through his legs,” Cox said, “so I didn’t see it very well, that’s why I bobbled it a little bit. But I still got him.”

“In a situation where we had guys on base, they made the play,” EL coach Dave Jordan said. “We hit it to people and they made the play. And when (Lewiston) had guys on base, they found gaps. Credit to them, they really came with their hitting shoes today.”

Cox and Damon Bossie led Lewiston’s 12-hit attack with three hits apiece, including a double by both. Landry and Keegan McLaughlin added a pair of hits each and Jack LeBlond drove in two runs to help the Devils (9-7) avenge a 3-2 loss to the Eddies last month in Lewiston.

Ben Cassidy led EL (11-5) with two hits, including a double.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the fifth inning, it appeared as though the Devils’ season-long nemesis, runners left on base, might doom them again. They left the bases loaded against EL starter Ethan Brown in the fourth, which brought them up to eight stranded runners at that point.

Lewiston’s Dale Morin slides safely back to first base as Edward Little’s Ben Cassidy waits for the ball during Thursday afternoon’s baseball game in Auburn. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

But with two out in the fifth, Robert Dostie drove in the tying run with a single to left. In the sixth, with Cassidy on in relief of Brown, Cox led off with a double, moved to third on Landry’s single, and scored on LeBlond’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.

“We wanted to be aggressive,” said Lewiston coach Darren Hartley, whose team stranded 13. “We wanted to sit on pitches and locations and I’m so proud of the way the kids came through. I think this should improve our confidence. Hopefully, it improves our work ethic going forward and maybe we can get better at some of the little things — pickoff plays, base running, things like that.”

Lewiston opened it up in the top of the seventh, sending nine men to the plate and getting RBIs from Danny May (single), Andon Cox (bases loaded walk), Landry (single) and LeBlond (ground out).

“This was one of our best offensive games of the year, for sure,” Cox said.

“The luck hasn’t been going our way with the bats lately, but I think we’ve finally found those 9, 10, 11 guys that can do their job, and it’s been working out the last couple of games,” Landry said. “Even the Oxford Hills game (a 6-1 loss in their previous game) we started putting the ball in play.

“It’s starting to look up now, and a good time to look up.”

Lewiston grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Bossie’s two-out RBI single, but promptly gave it up in EL’s two-run bottom of the frame thanks to a pair of errors and some aggressive base running from Cassidy, who scored from third on a pickoff move to first by Landry.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game in terms of runs, and it played out to that until the seventh,” Jordan said. “So we knew that we had to try to score runs any way we could, and I felt we had the right guy there in terms of athleticism and smarts to maybe take a chance there.”

Landry, a southpaw, settled in after that, retiring the next 12 Eddies in a row before Austin Brown’s two-out single in the fifth, which turned out to be harmless.

“The first inning was a little rough, pitching and defense-wise,” Landry said. “I just tried to stay focused and get them down after that. The defense definitely showed up from the second inning on.”

“That’s the type of person that steps up, puts a team on his back, grinds through it, and the next thing you know … he’s right in a flow,” Hartley said of Landry. “And then we start to build off it. That’s just typical of a guy like Hunter Landry.”

Edward Little’s Jack Keffe makes it to first base as Lewiston’s Damon Bossie watches the ball fly away from him after missing the throw during Thursday afternoon’s baseball game in Auburn. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

Thanks to Owen Cox’s sure hands at short, EL didn’t score again until Jack Keefe’s two-out RBI single off in the seventh. Cox ended the Red Eddies’ attempt to rally and the game by getting Cassidy on a pop foul to third.

In six innings on the mound, Landry allowed three hits, one walk and two unearned runs while striking out two.

Lewiston’s win likely prevented a rematch of the rivals in the Class A North quarterfinals, scheduled for next Thursday. Unofficially, EL will be the No. 3 seed and host a quarterfinal, while Lewiston moved up to No. 5 and will hit the road for its game.

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