RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL third baseman Curtis Anderson slaps a tag down on Buckfield runner Gerry Gagne during their game in Buckfield on Wednesday.

RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL third baseman Curtis Anderson slaps a tag down on Buckfield runner Gerry Gagne during their game in Buckfield on Wednesday.

BUCKFIELD

Through three innings, Wednesday’s East-West Conference baseball showdown between Richmond and Buckfield wore all the identifying marks of a one-versus two matchup.

Then it all unraveled into a long, cold, agonizing afternoon for the Bucks, whose 16-3 Senior Day loss was abbreviated to six innings by the Mercy Rule.

Seven errors, a baker’s dozen hits by Richmond and a relatively commanding performance by Bobcats’ ace Mike Stewart snowballed into a one-sided defeat. All that, after Jared Eastman’s two-out single plated Sidney Jackson to make it 1-1 in the bottom of the third.

“I kind of expected it to be pretty close, and through three innings, that’s what we wanted,” Buckfield coach Kyle Rines said. “It’s hard to play after you make a mistake that you know cost your team some runs. That’s baseball, and you have to mentally get past it.”

Richmond (10-1) scored five runs in the fourth and 10 in the sixth, further padding its advantage over Buckfield (9-4) in the Class D West Heal Point standings.

Freshman Zach Small was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs for the Bobcats. Cam Emmons and Tyler Soucy each added three hits and drove in a pair.

“We put the ball in play. We made some things happen,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said. “Kind of used our wheels, forced the issue and made them make plays. They didn’t, and I guess when you score 16 runs you’re supposed to be happy.”

Stewart, who was knocked out early in an 8-5 home win over Buckfield earlier in the season, offset eight walks with eight strikeouts. He allowed only two hits: Eastman’s run-scoring knock, and a lead-off single by Ralph Dunn in the fourth.

“I’ve been struggling to start the year with my command,” Stewart said. “It felt like it was better today. It was a step in the right direction.”

Jackson, a junior who rejoined the baseball team for the first time since middle school this spring, matched Stewart’s mastery early.

Richmond jumped out 1-0 in the second. Small doubled, and Bailey Johansen’s sacrifice bunt set up Emmons’ RBI single.

Stewart escaped a walkriddled second, but Jackson’s lead-off walk and subsequent steals of second and third set the table for Eastman’s equalizer in the third.

“We know we can compete with them,” Rines said. “Mike Stewart threw really well today. He’s had a tough start to the season, but he’s a talented athlete. I’m happy for him in a sense that he found his control, but I wish it had happened against some other team.”

Four errors, a passed ball and an intentional walk contributed to Richmond’s windfall in the fourth. Small and Curtis Anderson each delivered a single in the goahead rally.

Reliever Ethan Jackson retired the first two Richmond batters in the sixth, but the next 12 reached base against Jackson and freshman Tyler Sullivan.

Soucy and Small slapped two hits in the inning. Three additional errors deepened the hole.

“They hit the ball well today,” Rines said. “Everywhere they hit it was in an open spot.”

Gerry Gagne and Jacob Hackett drew walks and combined for three stolen bases in the Buckfield seventh, putting them in position to score on a throwing error and a wild pitch, respectively.

It has been a season of weekend road doubleheaders for Buckfield, which was playing its fifth and final home contest in a 16-game season.

Eastman and Tyler Vallee are the only senior starters for the Bucks, who are seeking a trip to their fourth consecutive regional final.

“We know that we’re a top team, and we know that we’re going to see these guys again,” Rines said. “It’s all about bouncing back.”


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