BOX SCORE 

Oxford Hills 9 Yarmouth 0

OH- 110 340 0- 9 10 0
Y- 000 000 0- 0 3 3

Top 1st
Brown singled to right, Merrill scored.

Top 2nd
Binette doubled to right-center, Oufiero scored.

Top 4th
Soehren singled to left, Truman scored. Binette scored on throwing error. Merrill doubled to center, Soehren scored.

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Top 5th
Oufiero scored on error. Soehren singled to center, Truman and Doucette scored. Merrill singled to left, Binette scored.

Multiple hits:
OH- Soehren 3, Merrill, Tardiff

Runs:
OH- Binette, Oufiero, Truman 2, Doucette, Merrill, Soehren

RBI:
OH- Soehren 3, Merrill 2, Binette, Brown

Doubles:
OH- Binette, Merrill, Oufiero
Y- Robichaud

Stolen base:
OH- Oufiero

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Left on base:
OH- 9
Y- 5

Soehren and Merrill; Lowenstein, Hickey (4), Swift (5) and Bradford, Roux (7).

OH:
Soehren (W, 1-0) 7 IP 3 H o R 4 BB 9 K 1 WP

Y:
Lowenstein (L, 0-1) 3+ IP 4 H 3 R 2 ER 2 BB 2 K 1 WP
Lowenstein pitched to two batters in the 4th
Hickey 1.2 IP 3 H 5 R 1 ER 2 BB 0 K
Swift 2.1 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 0 K

Time: 2:05

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s baseball team welcomed the opportunity to battle one of the best squads in the state in its season opener Monday afternoon.

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And the Clippers quickly found out why Oxford Hills is so good.

And why junior Eli Soehren is one of the best hurlers.

The Vikings scored the only run they’d need when designated hitter Kolby Brown singled home catcher Andrew Merrill in the top of the first.

In the top of the second, shortstop Nick Binette hit a two-out double to score first baseman Isaiah Ofiero for an insurance run.

Yarmouth had chances to answer in both the second and third innings when it put the tying runs in scoring position with less than two outs, but couldn’t push a run across either time.

Then, in the fourth, Oxford Hills got some breathing room, as Soehren singled in second baseman Brady Truman, another run scored on an errant pickoff throw and a third came home on a double by Merrill to make it 5-0.

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The Vikings then tacked on four more unearned runs in the fifth and Soehren did the rest, going the distance to close out a 9-0 victory.

Oxford Hills mustered 10 hits, with Soehren leading the way with three of them, and he only allowed the Clippers three hits of their own, as the Vikings started on a high note.

“That’s a good team,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted, about Oxford Hills. “They’ve got some really good athletes. This is what we wanted. This is why we have a really good hockey program, a really good basketball team, a really good soccer team. These kids don’t want to go play some pushover. When we saw Oxford Hills on our schedule, we didn’t blink.”

A rarity

Yarmouth and Oxford Hills had never before met in a countable baseball game.

Both teams have done their fair share of contending recent seasons, although both went home earlier than they hoped a year ago.

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The Vikings lost in the Class A North quarterfinals last season, but enter 2022 with plenty of returning talent.

The Clippers were the top seed in Class B South last spring, but were upset in the preliminary round by Gray-New Gloucester. Although it has some holes to fill, Yarmouth believes it will be right in the mix again this season.

Monday, on a breezy, 49-degree afternoon, Oxford Hills got an early jump and didn’t look back.

Yarmouth sophomore Sam Lowenstein throws a pitch early in Monday’s 9-0 home loss to Oxford Hills. Hoffer photos.

Binette led off and sophomore starter Sam Lowenstein caught him looking at strike three. Soehren was next and he grounded a single into rightfield. After Merrill grounded sharply to third base for a third-to-second force out, Lowenstein hit third baseman Wyatt Knightly with a pitch, then Yarmouth senior first baseman Gibby Sullivan dropped Lowenstein’s attempted pick-off throw and on the play, Merrill moved to third. That set the stage for Brown to come through with the first of Oxford Hills’ multiple two-out RBI hits, a single to right, to score Merrill for a 1-0 lead. Tardiff then bounced out to Sullivan to end the frame.

In the bottom half, Soehren got senior leftfielder Matt Robichaud to ground out to second, shortstop Andrew Cheever to bounce out to third, then he got third baseman Jack McCosh to chase strike three.

Oufiero led the off the top of the second by ripping the first pitch from Lowenstein to right-center for a double. Second baseman Brady Truman sacrificed Oufiero to third and Lowenstein appeared primed to escape the inning when he reared back and threw a strike three fastball past leftfielder Matt Doucette, but Binette had other ideas, doubling to right-center for a 2-0 lead. Lowenstein then struck out Soehren for the third out.

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In the bottom of the inning, Yarmouth’s offense showed some life.

Sullivan walked leading off, then catcher Sam Bradford blooped a single to center. Senior centerfielder Matt Waeldner sacrificed to move the runners up, bringing junior rightfielder Stevie Walsh to the plate.

Walsh, who’s produced an abundance of memories this school year in soccer and basketball, wasn’t able to duplicate his “Stevie Wonder” magic in his first varsity baseball at-bat, as Halsted called for a squeeze bunt and while Walsh made contact, he popped the ball right back to Soehren, who caught it for an out, then ran to third to force out Sullivan to complete the double play, bringing a sudden end to the threat.

In a key moment of the contest, Yarmouth junior Stevie Walsh prepares to lay down a squeeze bunt during the second inning. The bunt was caught in the air and resulted in a double play.

Lowenstein kept the score 2-0 in the top of the third by working around a leadoff walk to Merrill on a full-count pitch. Knightly laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Brown lined out to center and Tardiff popped out.

In the bottom half, senior designated hitter Quin O’Meara grounded out to second on the first pitch, but second baseman Matt Gautreau drew a walk and Robichaud followed with a deep fly ball to right-center which landed for a double, putting runners at second and third.

But again, the Clippers couldn’t capitalize, as Soehren got Cheever to pop out to first before firing strike three past McCosh.

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Oxford Hills then chased Lowenstein and added to its lead in the top of the fourth.

Oufiero led off and was robbed of a hit by Sullivan, who made a nice stab going to his right before throwing to Lowenstein covering, but on a 3-2 pitch, Truman walked and Halsted pulled Lowenstein in favor of junior Liam Hickey.

Hickey got Doucette to ground slowly to short, with Truman moving to second, then Binette drew a walk. That set the stage for Soehren to help himself, lining a two-out single to left to score Truman to make it 3-0 and put runners at the corners. Hickey then threw wildly on a pickoff throw to third and Binette came home to score with Soehren taking second. Merrill then came through with an RBI double to deep center. Knightly lined out to center, but the Vikings had a five-run advantage.

In the bottom half, Soehren struck out Sullivan swinging, got Bradford to pop out foul to third, then induced a ground out to second off the bat of Waeldner.

Oxford Hills would break it open in the top of the fifth, again with some help.

Brown bounced out to third leading off, but Tardiff singled to right-center, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Oufiero was next and grounded to Cheever at short, who made a heads-up throw to McCosh at third to tag out Brown for the second out, but after Oufiero stole second, Truman walked. Doucette hit a routine fly ball to rightfield which should have ended the inning, but while Max Gilbert got to the ball, he couldn’t hold it and Oufiero came home with the runners moving up to second and third.

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That ended Hickey’s outing in favor of David Swift.

Swift was greeted by Binette, who walked to load the bases. Soehren then bounced a seeing-eye single up the middle to bring home two more runs. After a wild pitch, Merrill singled to drive home Binette. Knightly lined out to left, but the Vikings’ lead was up to 9-0.

Soehren struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth, fanning Walsh and Swift swinging and Gautreau looking.

Brown started the sixth by grounding out to short, but Tardiff lined a single to center. Oxford Hills couldn’t capitalize, however, as Ofiero grounded into a force out and Truman bounced out to first.

Robichaud struck out swinging to begin the bottom half, but Cheever beat out an infield single. After McCosh lined out to first, Sullivan walked, but Graeme Roux struck out to end the Clippers’ final threat.

Swift produced Yarmouth’s only 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh, getting Doucette to ground out to second, Binette to line out to short and Soehren to pop out to third.

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Soehren then closed it out in the bottom half, getting Waeldner to look at strike three and after walking Walsh, getting Swift to ground out to Truman at second, who stepped on the bag and threw on to first for a game-ending double play to wrap up a 9-0 victory.

“We treated (Yarmouth) like everyone else, just try to hit the ball with people in scoring position, pitch and get good defense,” Soehren said.

Soehren debuted with a masterpiece, allowing just three hits in a shutout performance. He walked four, but struck out nine.

“I was pitching great and we had good defense behind me,” Soehren said. “I just kept throwing. It was my best outing so far, so I felt like I might as well keep going. Everything really worked well today. I haven’t thrown my change-up for awhile and that was good. My curveball snapped off well and my fastball was straight and fast. Having the defense behind me and having that trust with my teammates is great for me.”

Soehren also paced the offense with three hits, three runs batted in and a run scored. Merrill and Tardiff also had multiple hits with two apiece.

Binette, Oufiero and Truman all scored twice, while Doucette and Merrill joined Soehren in touching home plate once.

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Merrill had two RBI, while Binette and Brown each added one.

The Vikings left nine runners on base.

For Yarmouth, Lowenstein took the loss after giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits in three-plus innings. Lowenstein had two walks and two strikeouts.

Hickey gave up five runs (just one earned) on three hits in his 1.2 innings. Hickey walked two and didn’t have a strikeout.

Swift surrendered one earned run on three hits in 2.1 innings. He had one walk and no strikeouts.

“We’re trying to replace 106 and a third innings on the mound out of 116 (from last year),” Halsted said. “We have new players all over the field. Sam didn’t give in and that’s the most important thing. He battled. I thought Liam was a few good curveballs away and David Swift did exactly what we expected of him. He’s highly competitive.”

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The Clippers left five runners on base.

“If we executed one play and a fly ball, I’m not saying we’re going to win, but it would have been closer,” Halsted said. “It’s April 18 and on April 18, we’re still trying to figure it out. Early in the season, the more experienced team has the advantage.”

Regrouping

Oxford Hill goes to Camden Hills Friday and should be in contention all spring.

“We’re going to be really good this season,” said Soehren. “We just need to hit the ball. We’re solid on defense.”

Yarmouth, meanwhile, is back in action Saturday at home versus Mt. Ararat.

“We’ll learn from this and get better every day,” Halsted said. “These kids have played a lot of travel baseball and they’re highly competitive. They come ready to go every day. That’s all you can ask for. That’s a blast.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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