PARIS — For the second consecutive weekend Oxford Hills completed a walk-off win against a stout opponent.

Saturday saw Oxford Hills suddenly end a 3-2 win against Lewiston in the bottom of the seventh in the first game of a doubleheader. The Vikings then rolled to a five-inning, 12-0 victory in the second game at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

After earning a walk-off walk in a victory against Bangor a week ago, the Vikings were ready to play in the seventh inning again after enduring a solid pitching performance from Lewiston’s Josh Murphy through six innings.

“I think it’s because a lot of the younger kids, we only have four kids that have been on varsity before so the young kids are trying to make a name and work really, really hard,” Vikings senior Ethan Cutler said of his team’s comeback. “We didn’t have a season last year and we lost almost every single starter we had, so everyone is fighting for spots and so it’s really competitive. Our coaches, too, they drill it into our heads to go full speed 100 percent of the time.”

With two men on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Lewiston pulled Murphy after giving up just one run to that point, with nine strikeouts. Murphy also tripled and singled at the plate, scoring on both occasions to give Lewiston its 2-1 lead. Nick Binette was the first batter that reliever Keegan McLaughlin faced, and Binette singled to drive home Hunter Tardiff and tie the game at 2-2 for Oxford Hills.

Next was Cutler, who was looking for one thing, but took what he got and made the most of it, smashing a single into left field to score Matt Doucette for the victory.

“I was trying to go to the right-center gap, but he just fed me one inside, up and in, and I just did what I did,” Cutler said.

Oxford Hills squeaked out a victory, but both coaches had nothing but praise for the Lewiston left-hander who held the Vikings to a single run for most of the game. Ty LeBlond tripled home Matt Doucette in the third.

“Murph, we know what we have with Murphy. He is a good player, he cares, he plays year-round, he’s our guy,” Lewiston coach Darren Hartley said. “…We want to get better every day, that’s our job, but we are really proud of Murphy. We just think he’s one of the best baseball players in the state of Maine, especially in the junior class. He cares a ton, he’s taking it hard right now and it just kind of stinks for him.”

Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer didn’t like his team’s approach to facing Murphy.

“We were over-aggressive to start and we knew we had to get Murphy out of there. He’s a good pitcher and we knew we’d have to grind,” Slicer said. “We wanted to get him deeper in pitch counts but didn’t do a great job with it.”

Murphy tripled in the fourth inning and scored on a grounder by Cole Ulrich, then in the sixth inning the junior singled and was driven in by his catcher, McLaughlin, who singled to left. McLaughlin also caught two runners trying to steal in game one.

The Blue Devils couldn’t get much else working offensively as Wyatt Knightly got himself out of a few jams and kept the game in reach for the Vikings on the mound.

“These guys, I’m not sure how many times they have been in this position, but it seems like they never give up,” Slicer said. “We didn’t play a very good game the first game. Wyatt got his pitch count up way too high, but he battled, and he got out of bases-loaded jams. I just think they believe we have a chance no matter what. I’ll take it, I love the fight.”

In game two, Oxford Hills rode the momentum of the walk-off into a two-run first inning and four runs in each of the next two frames.

“We faced two good lefties and some better-than-average righties and we felt comfortable up there,” Slicer said. “We scored first, didn’t give up a run, things were falling for us a bit there. Once it got to 6-0 it looked like (Lewiston) just lost steam.”

The Vikings batted around the order in the second and third innings and had four batters reach base three times each, including Cutler, who reached all four plate appearances in game two.

“We were riding the momentum and they had a different pitcher,” Cutler said. “It was definitely momentum coming off that last inning into the next game. We were all fired up.”

The Vikings scored two more runs in the fourth and didn’t need to bat in the bottom of the fifth for the mercy-rule victory.

Lewiston got a batter on base in each of the five innings, including leaving two on in the fourth, but Eli Soehren was unfazed each time, striking out five in the win.

On the other side, Lewiston went through five pitchers in the second game of the day and just the second of the Blue Devils’ young season.

“I think Oxford Hills was very opportunistic, they had some seeing-eye singles, we missed two or three cutoffs,” Hartley said. “At the end of the day I have a young kid throwing strikes and we didn’t want him to sit up there and wear it because we have a bunch of games next week. I made the decision early to get some bullpens in because our guys haven’t been outside in 12 days. We have practiced three days in the gym and nothing live. We’ve got Edward Little on Tuesday and we have to be ready.”


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