Oak Hill’s Caleb Valliere, right, tags out Morse’s Brenton Cahill on a pick-off attempt during the fourth inning of Tuesday’s Class B South prelim game in Bath. Times Record photo by Eric Maxim

BATH — When high school baseball teams hit the playoffs, most likely gone are double-digit victories, 10-walk games and poor defensive play. Good pitching and timely hitting take center stage.

Morse benefited from both to take down Oak Hill 6-1 in a Class B preliminary game on Tuesday.

The No. 7 Shipbuilders (10-7) will square off on the road against No. 2 Greely (12-4) on Thursday. The No. 10 Raiders finish the season at 8-9.

“That’s a playoff team right there in Oak Hill, and we came to play right until the end,” first-year Morse coach Niko Ruiz said. “I’ve been telling them from the beginning that hits are going to happen and errors are going to happen, and as long as you focus and play the game, everything will work out as it should.”

Morse starter Asa Hodgdon pitched six strong innings, scattering five hits while striking out seven and walking two. Jackson Walker pitched a 13-pitch seventh to seal the game.

Hodgdon also shined at the plate, garnering a pair of hits, driving in three runs, including two key runs in the sixth for insurance.

“We’ve had a little trouble lately with the bats, so it was good to come up with some big hits today and hopefully that will carry straight into Greely,” Hodgdon said.

“That’s a good ball club, right there,” Oak Hill coach Chad Stowell said of Morse. “We had runners on all over the place early on, and give credit to Asa, he got the outs when he needed to, he’s a real good pitcher.”

Oak Hill starter Reid Cote was effective early on, taking down the Shipbuilders one-two-three in the first and working around three Oak Hill errors in the second, which included the first of his two pick-offs at first base, to allow just one run.

“It was fun to go up against him, he was good.” Cote said about going up against Hodgdon. “It’s playoff baseball and getting into the playoffs for the first time in awhile, facing a team we hadn’t faced, we were pretty excited.”

The Raiders tied the game in the third after Cote reached on his second hit of the afternoon and moved around to score on a pair of wild pitches from Hodgdon.

Morse answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half to break the 1-1 tie. Caleb Tibbitts led off the frame with a walk and came around to score on a double from Hodgdon. Walker brought in his pitcher for the third Morse run with his second single of the game.

That was all the offense Morse needed. Hodgdon retired the Raiders in order in the fourth, and in the fifth, he showed everyone what he was made of, digging down deep to get the final out with his curveball to leave the sacks loaded.

“That was big,” Morse catcher Ty Knowlton said.

Morse’s Asa Hodgdon, right, is tagged out at second base by Oak Hill shortstop Caleb Valliere during the sixth inning of Tuesday’s Class B South prelim game. Times Record photo by Eric Maxim

Ruiz echoed those words about his starter.

“Great game by Asa,” Ruiz said. “Everything seemed to be working, him and Ty knew exactly what they were doing together.”

Behind every pitcher with an effective curveball, you’ll find a catcher behind the plate that’s willing to get dirty.

“All of our pitchers have confidence in him behind the plate,” Ruiz said. “He calls a good game and all of our pitchers are in sync with him. I have full confidence, no matter who’s on the mound, they’re going to work through whatever comes their way.”

Hodgdon credited Knowlton for his confidence on the bump.

“That helps me knowing we have Ty behind the plate, I know I can throw whatever with him back there,” the right-hander said.

Morse tacked on a run in the fifth off an RBI single from Gabe Aucoin and added two more in the sixth, all off Gavin Rawstron, who came in for relief of Cote in the fifth. Hodgdon capped his day with a two-run single, scoring Tibbitts and Isaak Flaming.

Morse’s Austin Magliozzi, left, fires to first for a double play attempt as Oak Hill’s Caleb Valliere (7) slides into the bag during Tuesday’s Class B South preliminary game in Bath. Times Record photo by Eric Maxim

Walker finished off the Raiders with two strikeouts in the seventh.

“I told the boys that this is the playoffs, nothing is going to be given to you, you have to earn it, and today Morse did what they needed to do,” Stowell said. “The difference today was when we got runners on, we didn’t get the big hit. When they got runners on, they picked up the hit.”

Morse will savor the victory for a short time, knowing what lies ahead with a tough team in Greely. But for Ruiz and company, there are the rewards of all the hard work they have put in all season.

“They stayed focus the whole game, no matter what happened. They battled all day, and that’s playoff baseball,” Ruiz said. “That’s where you hope to be at. Back in March, that’s what we set out to do, and here we are.”

 


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