PARIS — Oxford Hills’ early patience at the plate paid off in a 11-1, five-inning win over Mt. Ararat on Monday at Gouin Athletic Complex. 

The Vikings drew five walks, were hit by pitches twice and tallied a hit in the bottom of the first, which turned into five runs and an early 5-0 lead over the Eagles.

“We were nice and patient at the plate, and it helped us,” Oxford Hills catcher Andrew Merrill said. “We weren’t anxious to get our bats going, we wanted to take some pitches.”

Oxford Hills (3-1) batted through its lineup in the first inning and forced Mt. Ararat (1-2) to make a pitching change by the time leadoff hitter Nick Binette stepped up to the plate for a second time in the inning.

Taking the first pitch quickly became the game plan, according to Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer.

“Once we found that (Mt. Ararat starter Brady Merrill) was having a little bit of trouble with his command, we weren’t swinging at the first pitch if it wasn’t grooved for us,” Slicer said. “That was the approach early. Once we were relaxed and had that cushion, then we could let it fly. They were a little over-anxious a couple innings, but I can’t complain about the offensive outcome.”

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Oxford Hills starting pitcher Kolby Brown, meanwhile, worked his way out of jams in the first two innings. 

In the first, Brown allowed two base runners before striking out Andrew Clemons to end the inning. Brown walked the first two batters in the second, but Andrew Merrill caught Brady Merrill attempting to steal third base for the first out. Brown ended the frame with strikeout and a ground out. 

“(The early lead) gave me motivation to throw well. It gave me confidence,” Brown said. “It gave me some space. I just wanted to throw strikes anyway I could and help my team win.”

In Oxford Hills’ half of the second, Hunter Tardiff’s two-out walk was followed by a Wyatt Knightly single and a walk by Kaden Delano, loading the bases for Isaiah Oufiero. 

A balk by Swanson scored Tardiff, then a single from Oufiero drove the other two base runners in to give Oxford Hills an 8-0 advantage. 

Ryan Robertson opened the top-half of the third inning with a double for the Eagles. This time, Mt. Ararat took advantage of having a base runner. Shea Farrell’s single moved Robertson to third base, putting runners on the corners. Farrell and Robertson then attempted a double steal, and Andrew Merrill threw out Farrell at second base while Robertson scored to cut the deficit to 8-1.

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That was the only run Brown and Oxford Hills allowed in the five-inning game. 

“He got in trouble in the first, but then he settled in nicely in the last two innings,” Slicer said. “(The umpire) had a great zone, and he’s not going to give you a lot off (the plate), so (Brown) walked a little more than he normally does, but he settled in and he had a great performance. I thought he struggled a bit early, but he got out of jams.”

“About right after the third inning, I was dialed in,” Brown added. “I liked that we kept up the hard work and held the mindset that we had this one.”

Oxford Hills added a run in the third inning on a home run by Merrill down the left field line. Merrill wasn’t sure if the ball was going to stay fair or make it over the wall, so he started moving his legs as soon as it left his bat.

“It felt good,” Merrill said. “I was pretty sure it was foul when it came off the bat, and then I saw it land and I didn’t know if it was in play or not, so I started digging, and then around second I saw the umpire’s call.”

The Vikings added two more runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-run lead. 

“I liked our offense; it’s been good the last couple games,” Slicer said. “We stung the ball well and even some of our outs were long. We didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, and defensively it was much better. Saturday, we had four or five errors, but today I don’t think we had any. It was clean today.”

Mt. Ararat coach Brett Chase said Eagles won’t dwell on Monday’s loss for too long. Instead, they will quickly turn their attention to facing Cape Elizabeth on Wednesday. 

“We just had too many walks, and it’s hard to get out of that hole against a good team like Oxford Hills,” Chase said. “But, like I told the guys, that’s the good thing about baseball. Tomorrow we have a new focus and we just move on.”

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