BIDDEFORD — Even for a pair of teams with a history of extra-innings playoff classics, this one was a battle.

After 12 long innings of baseball, third-seeded Biddeford was done in by a pair of errors as 11th-seeded Windham scored an unearned run in the top of the 12th inning to pull the upset 2-1 in a Western Class A quarterfinal on Thursday night.

The two teams have a recent history in the quarterfinals ”“ the Eagles beat the Tigers 1-0 in 2012 in 10 innings, and topped that with a wild 6-5, 13-inning victory a year ago.

But both of those games had been in Windham, not at St. Louis Field in Biddeford, as Thursday night’s game was. This year, with a 10-game winning streak, a 14-2 record and home field advantage, it was supposed to be different for the Tigers. They were facing a Windham (9-9) team that had been forced to use its No. 1 pitcher Spencer Hodge in a preliminary-round win over Portland on Tuesday.

But once again, Biddeford couldn’t get past the team that has now knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion three years in a row.

“Windham was the 11th seed, but they are still very dangerous and a good team,” Biddeford coach Keith Leblanc said. “It was a tough game.”

Both starters were on their game Thursday, with Windham starter Tanner Laberge going eight innings, giving up five hits and striking out 10, while Tigers starter Nate Huot went 10, allowing nine hits and striking out four in an economical 105 pitches before being lifted due to the league’s 10-inning limit.

But it was Huot who cracked first in the fourth, when Laberge doubled down the left field line and moved to third on a Zach Alpern sacrifice bunt, then scored on Hodge’s flyout to center.

Biddeford struck back in the sixth when Huot hit a hard shot to left for a single, and scored on freshman Brady Crepeau’s two-out double.

From there, pitching took over. Zach Conley threw the final four innings for the win, allowing just one hit and working around a lead-off walk in the 10th.

The Eagles had a chance to take the lead in the 11th when Tigers reliever Casey Twomey, on after Huot had reached the 10-inning limit, walked Josh Dugas and Alex Loftis with two outs before getting Conley to ground out.

After Biddeford went in order in the 11th, Windham took the lead in the 12th as Laberge reached on an error and scored on another error, by centerfielder Dominick Day, with two outs.

Day led off the bottom of the 12th by getting hit by a pitch and stealing second. But he was left stranded as Conley got Corey Creeger to pop up, Kerry Crepeau to fly out, and after intentionally walking Twomey, caught Corey Brown’s pop up in foul territory to end the game.

“These kids are very resilient; they don’t want to go home, they want to keep playing,” said Windham head coach Brody Artes.

The Eagles will hope to keep the Cinderella run going when they take on No. 2 Falmouth in a regional semifinal on Saturday.

For Biddeford, it was the end of the road after one of the best seasons in recent memory.

“I definitely thought we had a good season,” LeBlanc said. “It’s been a long time since Biddeford had 14 wins.”

Nicholas Mason is a freelance writer for the Journal Tribune, and can be reached at [email protected]



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