Friday, March 7, 2014
By JESSE SCARDINA Morning Sentinel
AUGUSTA - Messalonskee continued its playoff mastery Thursday night and is headed back to the Class A state final.
SATURDAY'S BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
CLASS A: Westbrook (16-3) vs. Messalonskee (12-6), 2 p.m. at Morton Field, Augusta
CLASS B: York (15-5) vs. Winslow (16-3), 4 p.m. at St.. Joseph's College, Standish
CLASS C: Dirigo (17-2) vs. Stearns (17-2), 2 p.m. at Mansfield Stadium, Bangor
CLASS D: Buckfield (14-1) vs. Bangor Christian (18-1), noon at St. Joseph's College, Standish
The Eagles took the lead in the second inning and never trailed, upsetting top-ranked Oxford Hills to win the Eastern Class A title with a 3-2 win.
"They did a great job to get this far with it," Messalonskee Coach Ray Bernier said. "I was worried about what was going to happen when we put (our pitchers) in that situation three games in a row. That's a lot of mental stress."
Sixth-seeded Messalonskee (12-6) will get a chance to defend its Class A title when it plays Westbrook at 2 p.m. Saturday at Morton Field.
Messalonskee used its unique pitcher rotation again. Nick Mayo started for the Eagles and pitched two innings, Jake Dexter pitched three and Devin Warren pitched the final two.
"We didn't really sting the ball," said Oxford Hills Coach Shane Slicer. "We never got a leadoff guy on until the sixth inning. We left a lot of guys on base."
Messalonskee took the lead in the second inning when Warren led off with a double and scored on a fielder's choice by Trevor Gettig.
The Vikings (16-3) threatened in the second with a double by Ty Martin and a walk to Ben Bowie, but Mayo worked out of the jam by striking out Nick Bowie to end the inning.
Mayo pitched two innings and didn't allow a run. He gave up one hit and struck out four.
The Eagles immediately responded, scoring twice to take a 3-0 lead. Zachary Mathieu started things off with a double. A hit batter and a fielder's choice later, and the Eagles had runners on second and third before Dexter was intentionally walked.
Jared Cunningham followed with a base hit that found a small gap in the infield to score a pair of runs.
"I think they were just getting in a better position to get out of the inning," Cunningham said of the intentional walk. "I thought I had to come in and do my job. I just wanted to put the ball in play."
Oxford Hills scored in the fourth after Dexter hit Jordan Croteau to lead off. Pinch-runner Brady LaFrance moved to second on a fielder's choice and scored on a single by Matt Beauchesne, who moved to second on a walk. The Vikings loaded the bases on an error, and Nick Attaliades-Ryan got them within a run when he was hit by a pitch.
Dexter got into another jam in the fifth, allowing runners to reach second and third with two outs.
But third baseman Ben Frazee saved at least two runs with a diving grab.
"We weren't going to keep Dexter out (for the fifth inning)," Bernier said. "He talked us into it. He said 'No coach, I want this next one.' "
"It just wasn't my inning," Dexter said of the fourth. "I had a little trouble with location and they got a little rally. I really wanted to come out there in the fifth and make up for what I did. I think I did that."
Dexter went three innings, allowing four hits and two runs.
"Last year's team is completely gone," Dexter said. "We have a different team. All these young guys, we have big-game experience. We know what it takes to win in the playoffs."