WINSLOW — The Winslow High School baseball team hasn’t played too many close games this season, but Thursday’s 4-3 win over Maranacook is the type of game the Black Raiders expect once the playoffs begin, and it was the type of game coach Jesse Lacasse felt his team needed.
“It’s definitely good for us, late in the season. I was saying to the guys, we started off a little slow,” Lacasse said. “Obviously finishing strong in these games is what we’re going to see going in the playoffs.”
Senior leadoff hitter Gabe Smith singled to center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh to score Joe Hopkins with the winning run. Smith saw Maranacook (7-7) pitcher Kevin Johnson shake off the first sign, and since he’d just seen a fastball, Smith expected a curveball. He got it.
“I knew it was coming. I just used my hands to poke it into the outfield,” Smith, who also singled in the sixth inning, said.
For five innings, Johnson kept the Black Raiders off balance with his off-speed pitches. Once Winslow (12-2) hitters started to stay back a little longer, they started to get hits. Six of Winslow’s 10 hits came in the final two innings.
“We’ve got to tip our hat to (Johnson). He mixed in a fastball on occasion, but other than that, we were out on the front foot the entire game,” Lacasse said. “Curve ball, changeup, he threw it really good. It took us six innings to adjust to it. And we hit it at the right time.”
Added Johnson: “(The curveball) seemed pretty good today. It was a good pitch. Inside, outside. I had the inside two-seamer working to bust them in.”
Trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth innings, No. 9 hitter Tyler Roy (3 for 3) led off with a single. Smith and Don Camp followed with singles to load the bases, and Roy scored on Dylan Hapworth’s sacrifice fly to center.
Zack Guptill reached on a fielder’s choice when the Black Bears made an error at second base. A low throw to first on a double play attempt skipped into the Winslow dugout, allowing Logan Hewes to reach base and scoring Smith and Camp to give Winslow a 3-2 lead.
“(Johnson) threw a good game against these guys, just a couple mishaps,” Maranacook coach Eric Brown said.
“We’re not really used to coming from behind. We haven’t played in a while, since last Friday. We just kept our heads in it. We knew we would come around eventually. Our bats have been hot all year,” Smith said.
Maranacook tied the game in the top of the seventh when Nick Lacasse scored on Tucker Whitman’s single to left.
The Black Bears scored a run in the first when Cam Brochu singled home Lacasse. Maranacook pushed its lead to 2-0 when Carson Dalheim scored on Hewes balk in the third. The balk was Hewes’ second of the inning.
“Those were actually our first balks of the season, so I was surprised by it,” Lacasse said.
Hewes pitched into the seventh, allowing five hits, five walks (two intentional), and striking out four. Johnson went the distance for Maranacook, striking out three and walking two.
“We were getting guys on base, just not getting that clutch hit to move them over,” Brown said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242