AUGUSTA — It’s been a while since Mt. Blue senior Cam Abbott felt like his old self on the mound. He pitched sparingly last season while recovering from a knee injury sustained playing football.
“I usually pitch full games and I couldn’t like get through three innings,” Abbott said. “Being full strength and coming out here and closing the door felt good.”
Abbott pitched all seven innings Wednesday as the Cougars defeated Cony 5-2 in the season opener for both teams at Morton Field. The right-hander allowed four hits, struck out five and walked two in an efficient 96-pitch effort.
“He had the fastball going,” Mt. Blue catcher Andrew Pratt said. “Later in the game when his fastball wasn’t quite there, the curve ball was keeping them off balance.”
The Cougars scratched out four runs against Cony starter Payton Kennison, a senior transfer from Spruce Mountain, and another against reliever Mitchell Bonenfant. They scored three runs in the fifth without benefit of a hit, capitalizing on two walks, a wild pitch and a pair of Cony errors.
“We just gave them too many extra outs,” Cony coach Don Plourde. “And we needed a big hit and we didn’t get it. Tip your cap to them. They did the little things they needed to do and they outplayed us.”
With the wind blowing in and the temperature around 50 degrees, Wednesday was a pitcher’s day and Mt. Blue coach Dave Pepin played it that way. When leadoff hitter Ryan Pratt drew a walk to open the third inning, Amos Herrin followed with a bunt that went for a hit when no one covered first base. Pratt moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Abbott’s safety squeeze.
“We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game,” Pepin said. “It was our ace against their ace and they’re probably two of the better pitchers in the league.”
Kennison allowed four hits over 4 2/3 innings while striking our seven and walking three.
“He threw great,” Plourde said.
The Cougars made the most of a couple of breaks in their three-run fifth. Tye Nichols struck out open the inning but reached first on a wild pitch. Ryan Pratt followed with a walk and Herrin’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed at first to load the bases. The ball didn’t leave the infield during the innings as Mt. Blue scored on a wild pitch, a ground ball and an errant throw to home with the bases loaded.
The Cougars, who have yet to practice on their home field, tossed the ball around, too. They committed two errors in third inning but Abbott escaped by inducing a popup and a ground ball to second base. The Rams had their best scoring chances in the fifth when they put together three singles to go with a walk and a Mt. Blue error. They scored their first run when Tyler Tardiff blooped a bases loaded single to left and their second on Reid Shostak’s sacrifice fly. But the sacrifice fly turned into a double play when Cougar center fielder Nichols gunned down Carrier at third after he tagged up and attempted to advance. Ben Lucas singled to reload the bases, but Abbott got out of the jam when Kennison flied out to right.
The Cougars added a run in the Herrin walked, Abbott bunted him to second and he eventually scored on Colton Lawrence’s suicide squeeze.
“Our coach is all about that,” Pratt said. “He’s all about playing small ball, manufacturing runs, and it worked today.”
Mt. Blue plays at Brewer on Friday while Cony has a bye.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” Pepin said. “Probably the biggest win in three or four years.”