WESTBROOK — Tom Lemay of Westbrook went into Thursday’s game against Deering batting .083. Coach Mike Rutherford was going to DH for him, but changed his mind just before the game.

It was a good decision, as Lemay broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run homer to left in the third inning, and the Blue Blazes used that momentum for a 9-6 win over the defending Class A state champions in a Telegram League game at Olmsted Field.

The Blue Blazes (9-2), ranked No. 2 in Western Class A, broke a string of five losses to Deering over the previous two seasons. Those defeats included a one-run loss to the Rams in the Western Maine final two years ago and another one-run loss in last year’s Telegram League championship game.

“We finally got the monkey off our backs, or maybe it was a gorilla,” Rutherford said. “No matter how well we played, we lost to them. We had to prove we could beat Deering. Granted, Deering graduated some talented players, but we still had to go out and do it.”

Rutherford said he had a hunch that Lemay, a catcher, would hit after slumping through the first 10 games.

“I just felt Tommy was overdue,” he said.

Lemay delivered after Deering (8-3) scored three runs to tie the game at 5. With two outs in the third, Jake Gardiner walked. Lemay then hit a high drive over the left-field fence.

“It was right down the middle,” Lemay said. “The kind of pitch you should hit.

“This is a game you circle on the schedule. To get a home run in the biggest game of the regular season is really special.”

Lemay’s struggles at the plate were understandable. His father, Peter, suffered severe injuries when he fell off his bicycle on May 4. Lemay said his father has been going through rehabilitation and is improving.

“It’s been tough on the family,” Lemay said. “I can’t wait to tell him. He’ll be excited to hear about my home run.”

Left-hander Scott Heath, pitching his first game against Deering, started slowly but got stronger as the game progressed. With the Blazes leading 9-6 in the top of the sixth, Heath got the final out on a pop-up to first with runners on second and third.

“Scott pitched a really good game,” Lemay said. “He kept the ball on the corner. He was pitching with emotion. He was so fired up in the first inning that I had to go out and calm him down.”

The bottom of the Westbrook order was productive. Brothers Zach and Jake Gardiner each had two hits and scored two runs.

Jake Gardiner doubled to the fence in center field to drive in a run in the four-run second inning. Lemay, the ninth batter, had the big hit in the third.

“I know I’m a good hitter,” he said.

“We were down after losing a 5-2 lead and Tommy comes through with a two-run homer. It was huge,” Rutherford said.

Deering took advantage of two Westbrook errors to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Blazes cut it to 2-1 in the bottom of the first, then took a 5-2 lead with four runs in the second. Sean Murphy got things started by lining a double to the fence in left-center field. He was thrown out at the plate moments later, but the Blazes followed with three more hits and also capitalized on an error and a passed ball.

Deering responded with three runs with two out in the third. Jake Nichols blooped a single down the line in left, Devon Fitzgerald singled, and Jamie Ross walked to load the bases. Catcher’s interference on a swing by John Hardy forced in a run, then John Miranda singled sharply to right to drive home two runs to make it 5-5.

The Blazes added a run in both the fourth and fifth innings.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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