SOUTH CHINA — Erskine Academy junior Nate Martin wasn’t particularly upset when Maranacook walked Ryan Rodrigue intentionally to pitch to him with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday.
It happened in the second inning, too, as the Black Bears got out of a bases loaded jam when Martin grounded out.
“He’s a great hitter,” Martin said of Rodrigue. “I knew what the situation was. I was just up there looking for contact.”
Martin got his contact with a single to left center that scored Tyler Bailey from second to give the Eagles a 4-3 walk-off victory. Both teams are 3-4 in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B play.
This one featured strong pitching by both teams. Maranacook starter Skylar Webb went eight innings before giving way to Jason Brooks in the ninth. He pitched out of two bases loaded jams in the first and second innings and settled down after that, finishing with two walks, one intentional, and eight strikeouts. The two runs he gave up in the fourth inning were unearned.
“He pitched great,” Maranacook coach Eric Brown said. “He deserved to win.”
The Eagles got a solid start from sophomore Luke Peabody, who left after the sixth inning with the teams tied at 3. He allowed just two singles, walked three and struck out one. Cody Beaudoin, another sophomore, set down the first seven batters he faced — he struck out the side in the seventh — before giving way to the hard-throwing Rodrigue with a runner on and one out in the eighth.
“We’ve been pitching pretty well,” Erskine coach Mark Bailey said. “I called him up today from the JVs.”
While the Eagles left the bases loaded after scoring a run in the first, the Black Bears made the most of their two hits. Vinnie Birtwell led the second inning with an infield hit and scored on a wild pitch after Peabody walked two batters to load the bases. Maranacook took a 2-1 lead on a groundout by Max McQuillen. The Bears made it 3-1 in the fourth when Luke Ruffing reached on an error moved up on a solid single from Brooks and scored on another ground ball out but they could have had more.
“We had one out with a man on third and we couldn’t get him in,” Brown said. “We couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
Erskine tied the game in the fourth. Mark Buzzell led with a single and eventually scored on Bailey’s single. A second run scored on an error.
While Erskine pitching shut down Maranacook over the final five innings, the Eagles had their chances to win the game. Mike Cayouette opened the eighth with a base hit to left then Bailey’s sacrifice bunt went for a hit instead, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. The Black Bears put on a pickoff play but Webb missed the signal and threw to the plate. With the defense in motion Bailey got caught up in the play and was an easy out at third despite a good bunt from Zach Childs.
“He just froze,” Coach Bailey said.
Buzzell opened the ninth with a base hit but was erased on second on a one-out fielder’s choice from Bailey. When Bailey stole second, Brown ordered an intentional walk to Rodrigue, setting the stage for Martin’s heroics. Cayouette, Martin and Buzzell each had two hits for the Eagles.
“We’re starting to develop a little confidence at the plate,” Coach Bailey said.