BIDDEFORD — Not even an hour-long weather delay could rain on Nate Huot’s parade Thursday. The Biddeford left-handed pitcher tossed a gem against Massabesic, scattering three hits while striking out 10 as the Tigers won the SMAA baseball game 8-1 at St. Louis Field.

The reigning SMAA Most Valuable Pitcher retired the first eight batters of the game and faced the minimum nine when a thunderstorm took over a sunny day.

An hour later, Huot picked up where he left off, setting down the next seven batters before putting two on in the sixth with a walk and a base hit. Massabesic (4-11) finally scratched across a run against Huot in the seventh on a leadoff single followed by a bunt, a groundout, and a wild pitch.

The win was the first of the season for Huot, who has struggled to reciprocate his success on the mound from last year.

“He hasn’t quite had the command he had last year, but today he really had it and he looked great,” said Biddeford head coach Keith LeBlanc.

“Today I just felt fresh. My velocity seemed like it was up there, my off-speed pitches seemed like they were working,” said Huot. “I was just trying to change it up. Trying to keep them off-balance, keep them guessing, that was pretty much my main priority.”

The other starter to step to the mound, Massabesic’s Weston Bergeron, didn’t have the same success as Huot. Bergeron fired a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first, but ran into trouble in the second.

After Huot grounded out to lead off the frame, Sam Collins walked and stole second. Joey Curit followed with a walk of his own on a 3-2 count, and Dominick Day singled home Collins. Bergeron was then charged with a balk to bring home Curit. Biddeford (5-9) continued to inflict damage on Bergeron as No. 9 hitter Colin Lavigne drove in Day with an infield single and Kerry Crepeau brought Nick Conley in when he grounded into a fielder’s choice, making it 4-0 Tigers.

“Weston has been struggling a little bit to find the plate. A couple borderline pitches that if it goes the other way the inning might turn around,” said Massabesic head coach Leon Renaud. “And then they put the bat on the ball, which is really the name of the game. Anything can happen when you’re putting the ball in play.”

The Biddeford bats got a chance to cool off after that initial rally as the rain, thunder and lightning put the game on hold. Bergeron stepped back to the mound when the game started back up and looked like he would took take command against the Tiger hitters, striking out the first two batters after the delay, but then he loaded the bases on an infield single and consecutive walks. He got out of the jam by striking out Conley.

LeBlanc said he had no second thought to putting Huot back on the mound after the hour-long layoff, which was even longer for Huot with the lengthy bottom of the third. LeBlanc cited Huot’s pitch count ”“ less than 50 over the first three innings ”“ and said Huot as a competitor wanted to go back out and finish the job. Huot said the delay had no negative effect on him.

“Nate’s a senior, one of the leaders who you expected as the season gets down to the close to kind of elevate their game and to see what they can do, and he started to do that,” said LeBlanc. “Gives us some confidence going into the playoffs.”

The cool-down period didn’t help Bergeron’s cause against Biddeford’s offense, as he ran into trouble again in the fifth inning. Collins led off with a single then moved to second on a bunt by Curit. Day walked and Conley followed with a double down the third-base line to bring home Collins.

“For most of the year it’s been the very top of our lineup that’s been the most consistent. It was nice today to get some production there out of the bottom half,” said LeBlanc. “That five to nine area, if we can get some production out of them, we should be in great shape.”

Two batters after Conley’s double, leadoff man Casey Twomey doubled to drive in two more runs, increasing Biddeford’s lead to 7-0. Bergeron then hit Crepeau with a pitch before being lifted for reliever Brandon Dyer.

The Tigers added another run in the bottom of the sixth against Dyer, as Brady Crepeau led off with a double to deep right-center, and Day hit a two-bagger to the same spot three batters later to bring in Crepeau.

Remi Gaetjens led off the top of the seventh with a two-strike single off Huot. Bergeron bunted Gaetjens to second, then Gaetjens slid safely into third after delaying the advance on a groundout by Derek Coulombe. The Mustangs then broke the shutout as Huot fired a wild pitch.

“I was looking forward to a better approach to him, but he gave us fits,” Renaud said of Huot. “Lefties, you don’t see very many of them, and when he’s around the plate and he’s getting some calls we put a little too much pressure on ourselves at the plate.”

The loss, Massabesic’s ninth in a row, makes the Mustangs’ regular-season finale a must-win if they want to qualify for the postseason. That last chance comes at No. 1 South Portland Saturday.

Biddeford, meanwhile, sewed up a playoff spot with the win. The Tigers have taken their lumps for much of the season, but following up Tuesday’s win against South Portland with a dominant victory over Massabesic has LeBlanc feeling better about his team as the postseason nears.

“You want to be playing your best baseball toward the end of the season. I’ve been preaching just to kind of have that sense of urgency and not be complacent with things,” said LeBlanc.

— Sports Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.



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