KAILEB HAWKES of the Highland Green Senior American Legion baseball team dives back into first base during Tuesday’s game with Yankee Ford. Hawkes was the lone repeat hitter for Highland Green as the hosts fell, 6-1.

KAILEB HAWKES of the Highland Green Senior American Legion baseball team dives back into first base during Tuesday’s game with Yankee Ford. Hawkes was the lone repeat hitter for Highland Green as the hosts fell, 6-1.

TOPSHAM

Amazing what a couple walks and an error can do.

That was the story for Highland Green in Tuesday’s Senior American Legion baseball game against Yankee Ford, where an otherwise solid game turned sour in one frame.

GARRETT MOODY tosses from the bump for Highland Green. Moody threw 36 pitches and struck out two before he was relieved after the third inning.

GARRETT MOODY tosses from the bump for Highland Green. Moody threw 36 pitches and struck out two before he was relieved after the third inning.

The visitors took advantage of three straight walks and turned the fifth into six runs and eventually, a 6-1 win.

“One bad inning,” Highland Green coach Bob Neron said.

After breezing through the fourth in just 12 pitches, Highland Green’s ( 1- 1) Kaileb Hawkes came out in the fifth and simply couldn’t find the zone. He walked three batters in a row (two on four pitches) after an infield grounder from DJ Shea in the first at-bat and suddenly faced a bases-loaded jam.

After the first run was walked in, Logan Drouin reached on a throwing error and made way for Nolan Brown, who laced a three- RBI double right down the left-field line to clear the bases and make the score 5-1.

“I could tell something was wrong,” catcher Cam Cox said. “I don’t know if he was tired. He said he was tired and that’s understandable. He pitched really well in the fourth inning — a lot of gas, hitting his spots. But not a lot of stuff in the fifth inning.”

Hawkes was pulled immediately after he hit after 37 pitches.

“He hadn’t pitched since the Brewer game, which was two weeks ago,” Neron said. “Hasn’t thrown a bullpen since then. That’s what I think. I was kind of optimistic as well, where he threw 12 pitches in that inning, I figured he’d be fine. When he came out in the fifth, it just fell apart for him. He’ll be fine. He’s a strong kid and he throws hard, it’s just he’s the type of guy where you’ve got to keep the ball in his hand — throwing bullpens in between starts. It’s hard to do that this time of year.”

Brown later scored on a second error before Brendan Emmons of Richmond came on and finally got out of the frame. Yankee Ford (3-1) scored all six of its runs in one trip through the lineup.

Before that, Highland Green starter Garrett Moody was cruising. He left a runner on and got through the first two innings on 22 pitches before promptly ending the third on a strikeout looking.

“He was hitting his spot with his curveball,” Cox said. “He had a couple good change-ups. He came right off today same way he came off at Bangor. Top of his game.”

Hawkes came on in the fourth and in retrospect, Moody might have kept going.

“I had three guys that hadn’t pitched in a while,” Neron said. “The plan today was to get them a couple innings. He’s stretched out and ready to go and he’s pitched few enough pitches to where I can use him this weekend. That was kind of the plan. We have plenty of pitching, it’s just guys hadn’t pitched in a couple of weeks.”

Nasty change

On the other end, Yankee Ford’s Griffin Kelley was locked in from the get-go. It took just 10 pitches to get through the bottom of the first and less than that to show Highland Green what it was dealing with. The hosts struck out five times on the evening and a few came on Kelley’s changeup.

“He had a changeup that was just swinging right through it,” Neron said. “I thought he threw really well. Stayed out of the middle of the plate. He didn’t walk many guys. He had a really good changeup. Guys coming back in saying ‘That changeup’s nasty.’ It looks like a fastball coming out of his hand. And that’s the key to that pitch is looking like a fastball.”

Kelley’s only hiccup came in the second, when a single by Hawkes turned into the lone run of the day. Hawkes swiped second and then advanced to third on a grounder by Cam Grant, only to get up from his slide and bolt home on an errant throw. The inning ended quickly and Kelley went all the way, giving up just four more hits.

“That’s the first time our team has seen a good changeup,” Cox said. “And you could tell. I struggled with it, other kids struggled with it. He mixed in a good curveball too. With a good fastball, changeup and curveball, that’s a good pitcher.”

It’s the kind of pitcher Highland Green will need to get used to. After switching to Zone 3 this season, Cox and company will be playing teams from the Portland area as opposed to up north.

Some of the best players in the state come from Zone 3 and that’s exactly the way Neron wants it.

“That team’s full of Gorham, Cape (Elizabeth), Scarborough,” Cox said. “That’s a large area full of a lot of good players. We can play with them, because we played with Bangor. It’s not going to be much different. It’ll be good to get new competition, play new guys. We’ll be competitive.”

“We’re playing teams we haven’t seen before, so that’s their advantage I would say,” Neron said. “But we want to play the competition. The best teams tend to come out of that area and we want to see how we stack up against them, so that’s what we’re looking for. We want to play the competition and build for next year. This group is together at Mt. Ararat for one more year, so we’re highly optimistic after the season we had. We just want to keep playing.”

Yankee Ford 6, Highland Green 1

At Mt. Ararat High School

Yankee 000 060 0 6-5-1
Highland — 010 000 0 1-5-3

Griffin Kelley and Matt Riggle; Garrett Moody, Kaileb Hawkes (4), Brendan Emmons (5), Hunter Lohr (7) and Cam Cox. WP — Kelley; LP — Hawkes. Doubles — (YF) Nolan Brown; (HG) Nick Merrill. Repeat hitters — (HG) Kaileb Hawkes. Records — Yankee Ford 3-1, Highland Green 1-1. Up next for Highland Green — Today at Andrew’s Post, 5:30 p.m.


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