FAIRFIELD — Since the start of the 2013 season, the Lawrence High School baseball team has been adept at losing close games. Six of the Bulldogs’ 12 losses last season were by one run and, on Friday, Lawrence opened the season with another one-run loss.
On a cold, windy Monday afternoon at Keyes Field, Lawrence finally turned one of those close games into a win. The Bulldogs scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and took an 8-4 win over Lewiston.
Lawrence is now 1-1, while Lewiston is 1-2.
“Honestly, I think all the experience of being in these types of games helped us today,” Lawrence coach Rusty Mercier said.
“It feels good. We lost five or six one-run games last year, and I’m proud of our guys for being able to hang in there and come back and win this game,” Lawrence senior shortstop Joe Leclair said.
Leclair’s one-out double to left-center field broke the game open in the sixth, scoring two runs. It came off Mike Wong, on in relief of Lewiston starter Eddie Emerson.
“I was expecting an outside pitch. I was trying to take it the other way and not do too much, just drive the guys in,” Leclair, who also scored two runs, said.
The Blue Devils took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth when Austin Wing scored on Kyle Ulrich’s groundout to first base. In the bottom of the inning for Lawrence, Cole Robinson led off with a walk before Spencer Folsom singled. Evan Grard walked to load the bases, and Robinson scored the tying run on J.T. Nutting’s grounder back to the mound, a sharp hit ball Emerson could not field cleanly.
Cody Martin reached on an error, scoring Folsom with the go ahead run. After a pitching change, Leclair’s double made it 7-4, and he later scored on a wild pitch.
“A lot of kids contributed. I felt like we were nice and focused late, and we executed,” Mercier said.
The game didn’t start out that way for Lawrence. Nutting walked Wong to start the game then hit Gage Cote. Wong scored on a wild pitch, then Nick Perrault doubled to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead. Lewiston made it 3-0 when Cote scored from second base on a throwing error after a sacrifice bunt.
“We didn’t play well early. We made a few defensive mistakes, and left some baserunners on. We hung in there,” Mercier said. “J.T. hung in there all day. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept us in the game.”
Lawrence got a run back in the bottom of the third on a Martin bunt single and Nutting single to score Alex Chesley in the fourth. In the fifth inning, the Bulldogs tied the game when Leclair scored from second base on a throwing error.
Robinson came on in relief for Lawrence in the sixth inning to earn the win. Nutting allowed just two hits in five-plus innings, striking out three and walking five. Emerson gave up five hits and six walks with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for Lewiston.