Since losing to Winslow in the season opener, Waterville has won eight consecutive games, including a 6-2 win Wednesday at previously undefeated Oceanside. Waterville took control of the game early, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning and two more in the third. A key to the win was being aggressive on the bases, coach Don Sawyer said.
“It’s just an attitude these guys have about running bases. Any chopper we hit, any slow ground ball, these kids are going 1,000 miles an hour,” Sawyer said. “They put a lot of pressure on (Oceanside) to make the plays, and that led to the first inning.”
Sawyer tinkered with his lineup throughout the first half of the season, and now he says he finally has one that works. Sophomore Dalton Wood has played well at shortstop, allowing Dan Pooler to go back to his natural position at third base. When Pooler pitches, Ben Cox has played well at third.
“We made up our lineup around what we found out on the practice field. Dalton, he’s playing like a seasoned vet right now,” Sawyer said. “Benny Cox has developed at third to allow that to happen.”
Wood has also developed on the mound, and last week he threw a complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win at Belfast. Working with coach Chris Farrar, a former pitcher at Thomas College, has helped Wood learn his mound mechanics.
“(At Belfast) he was on, and he was competing through the seventh inning. He’s finding out right now that it pays to work hard,” Sawyer said.
Waterville is off until Monday, when it hosts rival Winslow.
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For the first time in a long time, Carrabec is in the hunt for a Western Class C playoff spot at the midpoint of the season. A 10-2 win over Mountain Valley on Tuesday was the Cobras’ third win in four games. The team improved to 4-4.
“We’re playing fundamental baseball and working hard, and things are finally starting to come together,” coach Troy Dunphy said.
Carrabec entered play today in ninth place in the Western Class C standings. The top 12 in the region make the playoffs.
This is Carrabec’s third season back as a varsity program since playing a junior varsity schedule in 2011 to rebuild the program. The improvement has been gradual. The Cobras won one game in 2012 and four last season.
“They’re playing together. This group came up through together since middle school,” Dunphy said. “They’re having fun but that comes with winning, too.”
The Cobras are hitting .293, which is 140 points higher than at this time last season, Dunphy said. He pointed to his seniors, who were freshman on the 2011 team that played a junior varsity schedule, as the team’s leaders.
“The biggest thing is, they’re good kids,” Dunphy said. “They developed leadership because they had to. We were in the gutter, in every sport. They had to step up, and the kids coming up behind them followed.”
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When Lawrence catcher Kyle McLain suffered an eye injury in the preseason, he thought his senior season might be over. But this week, McLain returned to the Bulldogs lineup.
“I had to try hard and at least do it,” McLain said. “I’m pretty much playing with one eye.”
McLain was struck in the left eye by a baseball while doing drills in the gym. He has to wear safety glasses, as well as a protective cage on his helmet while hitting.
McLain played in a junior varsity game on Monday. On Wednesday, he caught for the Bulldogs in their win over Brewer, although he didn’t hit in that game.
“I had to focus more,” McLain said. “I’m seeing the ball a lot better than I expected.”
McLain added that he’ll also be able to play in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl this summer, the final football game of his career. McLain was an all-Pine Tree Conference center for Lawrence.
“I can’t wait. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, knowing I’ll be able to play in the Lobster Bowl.”
Lawrence (4-4) plays at Bangor on Friday.
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Around the state: Halfway through the regular season and there are only three undefeated teams left in the state: Messalonskee (8-0), Sacopee Valley (9-0) and Southern Aroostook (5-0)… Speaking of Southern Aroostook, the Warriors average 14.6 runs per game and have scored at least 11 runs in each game, excluding Thursday’s schedule game against Katahdin… Wiscasset is 4-5, but because the Wolverines play a Class C schedule they have enough points to be in second place in Western Class D… The top two teams in the Western Class A standings meet on Tuesday, when No. 1 South Portland hosts No. 2 Portland.