WESTBROOK – The Marshwood baseball team experienced something Tuesday it hadn’t all season.
The Hawks trailed after the first inning for the first time.
The deficit didn’t last long, as Marshwood scored two runs in the second inning to tie the game against Westbrook. Then it became a question of which highly ranked team would outlast the other.
In the end, Marshwood kept its unbeaten record intact. The Hawks snapped a 3-3 tie with an unearned run in the fifth and handed Westbrook a 4-3 loss in an SMAA game at Olmsted Field.
It was the third one-run victory for Marshwood (10-0), ranked first in Western Class A.
“That was a great game,” said Marshwood Coach Eric Fernandes. “Westbrook hit the ball just as hard as we did. We just crossed the plate one more time.”
Marshwood is finding ways to win.
“This is as balanced a team I’ve had at Marshwood in terms of pitching, hitting and defense,” said Fernandes. “They’re part of a three-year journey. The kids show up and want to get it done. They’re self-motivated.”
Marshwood reliever Deion Stewart took over for Alex McLean with one out in the fourth and shut down the fourth-ranked Blue Blazes (8-2). He allowed only two hits and fanned three in 32/3 innings.
Stewart set Westbrook down in order in the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh, Westbrook got the leadoff man on as pitcher Keenan Lowe singled to left. Stewart struck out the next batter, but walked Zach Bean. Lowe then tried to steal third, but catcher Matt Brenner retrieved a low pitch and easily threw out Lowe. Stewart got the final out on a grounder to second baseman Noah McDaniel.
“It was a good challenge to be down, come back and pull it out,” said Brenner. “Deion had pitched no more than one inning in his other relief appearances. It was an incredible job. He showed some heart.”
The Blazes took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Collin Joyce led off with a double to left-center, moved to third on Ryan Gilligan’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Kyle Heath’s single to right. Derek Bouchard drove home Heath with a double to left.
The Hawks tied it in the top of the second. Max McCoomb reached on an infield single and scored on Noah McDaniel’s doubled to left. Jake Lebel followed with an RBI double to center.
Marshwood took a 3-2 lead in the third. Brenner reached on an infield hit and scored on McCoomb’s two-out double to right.
Westbrook knotted it in the bottom of the third. The Blue Blazes loaded the bases with nobody out, and Heath scored on a balk. McLean bore down to get the next three batters, however.
Marshwood broke the tie in the fifth. McLean reached on a ground-ball error, stole second, went to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball.
The Blazes rued several missed opportunities.
“We left 10 men on base,” said Coach Greg Souza. “This was two good teams battling back and forth a little bit. We’re right there with the top teams in the league. Their relief pitcher did a great job. He came in and threw strikes a little harder than the first guy.”
At the start of the season, the Hawks knew they had the makings of a good team. They’ve been playing in memory of Troy Pappas, a former Marshwood standout who died from injuries in a fall in a Bates College dormitory. Pappas was a three-year varsity player for the Hawks and graduated last year.
“I can’t say at the beginning of the season I thought we would be 10-0,” said Brenner. “Everyone has shown up to play hard. Every day we’re playing for Troy. We know he’s looking down.”
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at email@example.com