SOUTH PORTLAND — Connor Buckley is used to pitching in relief. Maybe an inning, maybe two. But Tuesday was different. Buckley tossed a career-high 61/3 relief innings, helping South Portland to a 5-4 victory against Windham in a nine-inning SMAA baseball game at Wainwright Field.

South Portland (10-3), which has a six-game winning streak, won in the ninth after overcoming a deficit in the eighth.

“These kids battle all the way and that’s what was really good,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “With our backs against the walls today, it looked glum at times, but we got out of some tough jams and we just kept battling.”

When the teams met in the season opener, Sam Troiano pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts for South Portland in a 3-1 victory, but this time Zach Johnson was given the start.

Johnson pitched 22/3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits before Buckley came on in relief.

Buckley allowed six hits and three walks, striking out nine.

“I just come in and try to do my job,” Buckley said. “We grinded the whole game, and I was just trying to throw strikes and put the ball in play, and let my defense make plays behind me because I’m really confident in them.”

Zach Skillings of Windham allowed one earned run in a complete game in the first meeting with the Red Riots, but this time lasted just four innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits.

Bryce Afthim relieved and pitched into the ninth for the Eagles (6-9).

Windham couldn’t come up with timely hits, leaving 14 runners on base.

“We just didn’t get the job done at the plate today,” Windham Coach Brody Artes said. “Situationally, we just couldn’t put the ball in play and when we did, it was right at someone.”

Windham led early, scoring in the first when Tim Greenlaw doubled in Tanner Bernier from first base despite a diving attempt by South Portland right fielder Khem Johnston.

South Portland tied the game in the second before Windham scored twice in the third – when Buckley was brought in.

The Red Riots made it 3-3 in the bottom of the third, including back-to-back doubles by Troiano and Riley Hasson to lead off the inning.

From there, Buckley and Afthim dueled into extra innings before Windham took the lead in the top of the eighth on a bases-loaded walk to Mike Gilman that brought in Mitch Delcourt, who had reached on a fielding error.

The Red Riots came back to tie it in the bottom of the eighth, then won it in the ninth.

Anthony Perron was the key to the winning run. Perron reached third base when Bernier, the catcher, threw behind him in an attempt to catch him at second.

After two walks – the second intentional – Hasson won it with a fly ball to left field that had just enough carry to enable Perron to score.

“It just shows that we are going to make a mistake but we always have to try to pick each other up and bounce back,” Owens said.

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