AUGUSTA — The Messalonskee High School baseball team has spent this season seeking the magic that led it to the Class A state championship a year ago.
The Eagles may have found it Friday as they rallied for a pair of runs in the seventh inning to defeat Cony 7-6 in a matchup of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A teams bound for the postseason. Messalonskee is 10-3, Cony is 8-4.
Josh Woodard tied the game at 6 with a base hit to right field and Nick Mayo delivered the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly. Junior Devin Warren picked up the pitching win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in relief of starter Ben Frazee.
“First comeback of the year,” sophomore Zach Mathieu said. “It was a big one for our team.”
Warren and Mathieu led off the seventh with infield rollers toward third that died in the grass. Frazee drew a walk off starter Zack Lachance to load the bases with no one out. Woodard followed with a single to right to score Warren and Mayo lifted a sacrifice fly to right on which Connor Perry made a nice diving catch. Keith Cloutier made a nice diving catch in left to preserve the one-run lead but the damage was done.
“Their top four or five (hitters) are really solid,” Lachance said. “I knew it was going to be close so I had to bring my ‘A’ game, but it wasn’t our day.”
The loss was especially tough for the Rams who led 6-2 after touching Frazee for six runs and six hits in the third inning. The Eagles cut the lead to 6-5 with three runs in the fifth, helped by two Cony errors, one physical and one mental.
“It’s the little things,” Cony coach Don Plourde said. “You’ve got a four-run lead in the fifth, get outs. Zack gutted it out, but we’ve got to make plays. We’ve lost three one-run games to top teams and we’ve got to find away to close those teams out.”
The top of the order did the damage for the Eagles. Mathieu, hitting third scored four runs, while Warren scored two and leadoff hitter Jake Dexter one. Mathieu had three of Messalonskee’s 11 hits while Frazee and Woodard had two apiece.
Frazee struggled in the third when the Rams delivered five straight singles, getting a pair of RBIs from Ben Lucas and one each from Tayler Carrier, Thomas Foster and Keith Cloutier. The Eagles helped the inning along with a pair of errors.
“I wasn’t sure how we were going to respond to that,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “Even though we’ve got returning players form last year, we’re very young and inexperienced in a lot of way.”
Warren (3-2) was strong in relief. He came on with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, escaping damage with a force at home and a fly ball from Lachance. He struck out Lucas with a runner on second to end the sixth and ended the game with a pair of strikeouts.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638