Spruce Mountain celebrates its 10-3 win over Winthrop in the Class C South preliminary baseball round Tuesday in Kents Hill. Mike Mandell/Morning Sentinel

READFIELD — Jake Bessey was so confident in his team’s ability to pull off an upset that he didn’t even think about what he might tell his players post-game in a potential season eulogy speech.

It was a confidence that was rewarded Tuesday as the No. 11 Spruce Mountain baseball team knocked off No. 6 Winthrop 10-3 in a Class C South prelim game at Kents Hill School. The win sent the Phoenix to the quarterfinals, where they will face third-ranked Oak Hill on Thursday.

“I had full confidence in these guys to do this,” said Bessey, Spruce Mountain’s second-year head coach. “We worked up the count, we battled, and we adapted on the fly. That’s what we had to do today, and I have to give a lot of credit to my guys because they stepped up big-time.”

With the game tied 1-1 through five innings, Spruce Mountain scored three runs in the sixth and six in the seventh to secure a comfortable margin of victory in what had been a tight game. Reece Davis led the way with four hits for the Phoenix, and Elie Timler threw a complete game with seven strikeouts.

Spruce Mountain took the early lead in the top of the first inning as Lucas Towers singled in Davis for the game’s opening run. Winthrop (10-7) then tied it in the bottom half as Tyler Shumway singled in Brayden Stubbert, who had reached on a stand-up triple.

Spruce Mountain (7-10) had a chance to score after Winthrop starter Carter Collin put runners on second and third with no outs before his twin brother, Trent, replaced him in relief. Although Trent Collin walked the first batter he faced, he then struck out three straight to escape a massive jam unscathed.


“(Trent) is a heck of a pitcher with a heck of a curveball, and that definitely got to us a little bit,” Bessey said. “We went down looking and swinging, and we struggled against him until we started to protect the strike zone. We knew it was a matter of adjusting it, timing it out and getting used to it.”

It would take a while as Collin struck out three more batters in the fourth and pitched another scoreless fifth. Spruce Mountain would take the lead in the sixth as the Winthrop sophomore followed a hit batter with three straight walks to make it 2-1 before a Davis single and an error gave the Phoenix a 4-1 lead.

Although Winthrop got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth, Spruce opened the seventh by putting its first two runners on to chase Collin from the game. The Phoenix then combined for four hits against relievers Braden Branagan and Andrew Fay to break the game wide open and cement the upset win.

“We were practicing curveballs all week; we have a lot of comfortable curveball hitters, and it just took us a little bit to get going,” said Davis, whose team’s win avenged a 5-1 loss to Winthrop on May 19 in Jay. “We had great practices all week, and we were making good plays all around.”

The key plays were also plentiful in the field for Spruce Mountain, which committed just one error in the win. That and the consistency of Timler had the Phoenix in prime position to come through in the late innings.

“Elie’s been lights out for us the last few weeks,” Davis said. “I have all the confidence in the world in him. … Now, we have a lot of confidence as a team going into Oak Hill, and it should be a good game.”

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