SACO — Only on paper was this a mismatch.

In the dugouts, among the 300-plus fans and especially on the pitching mound it was clear: Windham High’s 16th-seeded baseball team and its UConn-bound senior ace Brady Afthim were going to give Class A South top-seed Thornton Academy all it could handle.

“With Brady Afthim on the mound you might as well just say it’s a (number) one seed against a two or a three. He’s that good,” said Thornton Coach Jason Lariviere.

Afthim didn’t disappoint, striking out 16 and allowing five hits but Thornton Academy pulled out a 1-0 win by parlaying a one-out walk – just the fifth Afthim allowed in 53 1/3 innings against 124 strikeouts – into the game’s only run.

Cody Bowker, a junior who has verbally committed to Georgetown, got the win with six innings of three-hit shutout ball, lowering his ERA to a 0.17. Josh Kopetski earned the save, striking out three straight in the seventh.

Thornton (13-3) will host No. 8 Gorham (8-7) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in a regional quarterfinal. Because Bowker threw fewer than 95 pitches, he will be eligible to pitch in Saturday’s regional semifinal if Thornton advances.

Windham finishes 4-13.

Bowker was in trouble in the first with the bases loaded and no outs but escaped with a strikeout and a slick 4-3 double play by second baseman Jack Cote, who charged a slow chopper, alertly tagged the runner, then threw to first.

“The first inning I was just a little bit distracted but then I knew I needed to trust my teammates and that’s what I did,” Bowker said. “I trusted Jack to make an awesome play to end the inning.”

Windham had another runner at third with no outs in the fourth but again failed to score.

“Today was just another of those days where you had your chances, didn’t capitalize, and end up losing 1-0,” said Afthim, who this season had 23- and 18-strikeout games in Windham losses. “Which was kind of the way it went this year. Nobody’s fault. Just things didn’t go our way.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Thornton’s Brayden Williams led off with a deep double to center and, with out out, stole third. Thornton’s Michael McLeer put down a good bunt between the mound and the first-base line. Afthim hustled to the ball and, like an option quarterback, pitched it to catcher Colby Raynor. Williams ran straight into Raynor, who held onto the ball. Because Williams did not try to avoid the collision, by rule he was out at home and ejected from the game. Raynor retaliated by throwing a punch. He was also ejected.

That left Afthim – Windham’s top catcher when not pitching – throwing to third-string catcher Austin Goslant.

In the fifth inning, Thornton leadoff batter Henry Lausier drew a walk, promptly stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. With two outs and two strikes on Thornton’s Brady Graffam, Afthim threw a low fastball that hit the dirt just in front of Goslant’s glove and skidded away, allowing Lausier to score.

“I think Austin does a good job just like Colby but it’s a hard role to come into, to sit for four innings or four plus,” Afthim said. “It’s not his fault at all. He did a good job.”


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