Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
WESTBROOK - The Windham High baseball team has something more than an impressive 11-2 record: a flair for the dramatic.
Ryan Gilligan of Westbrook ends up on his head Tuesday after making an acrobatic catch in left field during the SMAA game against Windham, which pulled away to a 7-2 victory.
Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Andrew Whiting of Windham keeps his focus on the ball while heading to the ground and making a diving catch in left field.
The Eagles, who rallied in the seventh inning to beat Kennebunk and Bonny Eagle this season, did it again Tuesday.
Windham scored five runs in the top of the seventh to break a tie and beat Westbrook 7-2 in an SMAA game at Olmsted Field.
The game matched teams who were neck-and-neck for third place in the Western Class A Heal point standings. The Eagles solidified their hold on third.
"Every game we don't seem to hit the ball until we have to," said Coach Brody Artes. "It can get kind of stressful."
Zach Conley's line single to right scored pinch-runner Jack Mello from second with the go-ahead run with one out in the seventh. Mello went in to run for Shawn Francoeur, who grounded a leadoff single between first and second.
Winning pitcher Nate Boyle sacrificed Mello to second and Westbrook (10-3) then walked Joey Francoeur to set up a force. Conley spoiled those plans.
After Calvin Field walked to load the bases, Tanner Laberge hit a sharp two-run single up the middle to make it 5-2. Field scored on a wild pitch by reliever Keigan Sears and Jack Herzig singled home the final run.
After starting the season 1 for 12, Laberge has steadily improved. He was batting at the bottom of the order, but Artes shook up the lineup a few games ago and Laberge, a senior, is now batting second.
"My hitting started to come around after my slow start," said Laberge. "We tend to pull through with our hitting. It was a tough day to play because of the (cold, dreary) weather, but we knew we had to pick it up."
The Eagles rebounded nicely from a 4-2 loss to Scarborough last Saturday. Their other loss was to Marshwood, 2-1 in the opener.
"We'll definitely be ready when the playoffs come around," Laberge said. "We're as good as anyone."
"That was a huge hit by Zach Conley and Tanner followed up nicely," said Artes.
"Everyone come through in the seventh inning. We have another big game Thursday with Gorham. We'll start to focus on that."
Gorham upset previously unbeaten Scarborough 3-1 on Tuesday to make a big jump in the rankings.
Windham took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Field's leadoff triple to right-center. Laberge drove him in with a single to right. Laberge was forced at second on a groundout by Herzig, who later scored on a groundout.
The Eagles' defense came up big early when right fielder Ethan Petty made a diving catch, then threw to second to double off a runner to end the first.
"We've been playing good defense all year," said Artes. "That was a big play by Petty early on. That changed the momentum."
The Blue Blazes cut it to 2-1 in the fourth after Kyle Heath led off with a triple to right-center. The next batter, Zach Bean, singled him home.
Westbrook tied it in the sixth with an unearned run. With one out, Kaleb Kent reached on an infield throwing error and ended up on second. Heath then doubled to deep left.
The Blazes got their leadoff batter on in the seventh when Ryan Gilligan doubled to right, but Boyle got the next three batters on a strikeout, a fly to center and a line drive to right.
"Nate pitched another good game," said Artes. "He was high on some of his pitches early but he made adjustments, particularly on his curve to get it down."
The Blazes couldn't pitch their top starter, Keenan Lowe, or play him in the field because of a sore hamstring. Lowe, the team's top hitter, was inserted as a pinch hitter in the seventh but struck out.
"This was a big game with a lot of Heal points but we didn't come ready to play," said Westbrook Coach Greg Souza. "It was frustrating.
"We have three more games before the playoffs and we hope to start a win streak."
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
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Calvin Field of Windham finds himself caught in a rundown Tuesday as Zach Bean of Westbrook looks to make the tag. Windham solidified its hold on third place in Western Class A with a 7-2 victory at Westbrook.