OAKLAND — Messalonskee High School baseball coach Ray Bernier said Devin Warren is one of a few players on the team with the green light to run when he sees an opening. On Wednesday afternoon against Bangor, Warren used the privilege perfectly.
With two outs in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Warren was at second base. As Jared Cunningham took ball four for a walk, Warren executed a delayed steal of third base. When Hunter Boyce’s throw sailed into left field, Warren came home with the winning run for a 4-3 Messalonskee victory.
“I think we’ve seen that from them about three or four years ago. I don’t think it’s the first time they’ve ever run it, but it was a good time to do it. It was risky,” Bangor coach Jeff Fahey said.
Warren said he noticed Boyce often turned his back to the field before throwing the ball to the pitcher. When it happened after ball four, Warren took off for third.
“I was creeping. I was just trying to make a play at that point. Make them execute. (Boyce) kept turning back around to the ump. I took off when he wasn’t ready, I guess, and forced a quick throw,” Warren said.
“Thankfully, (Warren) read it right and decided to do it. It was a good move,” Bernier said.
The game featured the top two teams in the Eastern Class A Heal point standings. Messalonskee improved to 8-0, while Bangor is now 7-2.
“It felt like a state championship game, actually. It was pretty intense, and I’m just happy we came away with the W,” said Messalonskee left fielder Zach Mathieu, who was 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run.
“If things hold the way they have been the first half of the season, we’ll probably see them again at the end,” Fahey said. “I hope so.”
Throughout the game, Messalonskee capitalized on Bangor mistakes, while the Rams let opportunities slip away. Three of the Eagles’ four runs were unearned, while Bangor stranded 13 runners on base.
“We didn’t do enough, and they did just enough,” Fahey said.
Warren got the start for Messalonskee, and worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the third. The Rams had a runner forced out at the plate when Jake Dexter came home with Sam Huston’s grounder to third, and Warren got a strikeout to end the threat.
“I thought my curveball was feeling pretty good today. My two seam fastball, too,” Warren said. “They’re a good hitting team. (Bangor starter Justin) Courtney’s a very good pitcher, and he battled, too.”
In the fourth, Bangor scored on Trevor Delaite’s sacrifice fly to center to cut Messalonskee’s lead to 2-1, but stranded the bases loaded again.
“(Warren’s) experience, being a senior, and of course a captain, he kept his composure. He kept battling,” Bernier said.
Messalonskee took a 2-0 lead in the first inning after a throwing error by Courtney extended the inning. Jonathan Wilkie scored on a fielder’s choice, and Mathieu scored on Ben Frazee’s single.
After Bangor cut Messalonskee’s lead to 2-1 in the top of the fourth, the Eagles got it back in the bottom of the inning, when Caleb Bean scored on Mathieu’s two-out double.
Huston scored on an error in the fifth for the Rams, and Bangor tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth when Delaite scored on a wild pitch.
Warren went five innings, striking out two and walking two, both intentionally. Dexter earned the win in relief. Courtney pitched into the seventh inning for Bangor, striking out three and walking two. Jordan Treadwell took the loss.