Good luck trying to figure out the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A playoff field before the end of the regular season. On Thursday night, four teams — Brunswick, Edward Little, Lawrence and Hampden — sat within five points of the final two spots.
Expect a lot of place swapping as the regular season winds down. On Thursday, Skowhegan jumped up from 10th place to seventh with a 9-3 win over Edward Little. It was Skowhegan’s third straight win, and fourth in five games.
“We’re playing pretty good baseball right now,” Skowhegan head coach Rick York said. “The boys decided they’re better than what their record said. There’s a lot of excitement in the dugout, a lot of enthusiasm.”
Skowhegan catcher DJ Allen homered in each of the Indians’ last two games. Allen’s three-run blast in the bottom of the seventh inning against Lewiston lifted Skowhegan to a 4-3 win.
“He’s just locked in right now. He’s hitting everything hard,” York said of Allen.
Skowhegan closes the regular season against Cony on Saturday and Messalonskee on Monday.
“We’re looking forward, not behind,” York said. “Get in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
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Valley closes the regular season with a pair of doubleheaders, against Forest Hills on Saturday and against Buckfield on Monday. Coach Paul Belanger hopes he has the pitching to get through it.
The Cavaliers (7-2) hosted Vinalhaven for two games on Tuesday. The upcoming doubleheaders give Valley six games in seven days, and Belanger said it will be a challenge, with a roster of just 11 players, to find enough pitching and follow the MPA pitching rule. Any pitcher who throws four innings in a game, and for the sake of the rule, one pitch counts as an inning, must have three days of rest before he can pitch again.
“Three doubleheaders in seven days just kills you,” Belanger said.
Valley’s ace, senior Dylan Belanger, was diagnosed with strep throat this week. Coach Belanger, Dylan’s father, said he hopes to have Dylan back on Saturday.
“We’ve got him on antibiotics, so we’ll see,” Belanger said.
Luke Malloy pitched well against Richmond and Vinalhaven, and will throw some innings in these next four games. Justin Miller and Nathan Ames also could see time on the mound, along with Cody Laweryson, who has battled arm soreness all season and has pitched few innings.
“Cody’s starting to throw more,” Belanger said. “We have to work his pitch count up.”
Right now, the Cavaliers are in fourth place in the Western Class D standings, just behind Buckfield and just ahead of Searsport.
“If we win out, we should get third place,” Belanger said, “but none of these games is going to be easy.”
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Madison currently holds the 12th and final spot in the Western Class C playoffs, but the Bulldogs grip on the postseason is far from firm, and their playoff fate may come down to how other teams do down the stretch.
“We could be playing the waiting game until Tuesday. We’ll try to control what we can control,” Madison coach Scott Franzose said. “I think a lot of (teams) will be watching the numbers over the weekend.”
Madison (5-10) closes the regular season on Friday at Oak Hill. A win over the Class B Raiders could be worse a lot of Heal Points and help the Bulldogs’ cause, but teams Madison also must keep an eye on include Mountain Valley (4-11), Maranacook (5-9) and Mt. Abram (5-8).
If Mountain Valley pulls off the upset, the Falcons will likely get enough points to jump over the Bulldogs into the final playoff spot.
Maranacook just three points behind Madison. The Black Bears are playing a Class B schedule in the KVAC, and could jump up a few spots in the standings with a win over Erskine or Belfast.
Mt. Abram is just four points behind the Bulldogs. Like Madison, the Roadrunners have a game to play with Oak Hill. Mt. Abram closes the regular season against Winthrop.
“We lost a big one (Wednesday) to Carrabec,” Franzose said, “but over the last four games, I think we’ve played our best baseball.”
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AROUND THE STATE: The top five playoff spots in Western Class C appear safe. The drop in Heal Points between No. 5 Sacopee Valley and No. 6 Hall-Dale is almost 27 points… Scarborough’s Ben Greenberg was named the state’s Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year earlier this week. Greenberg, a pitcher/infielder, also won the award last season and will play college baseball at Fordham… Since a 19-0 loss to Bucksport on the 9th, Washington Academy has won six of seven games to move into first place in Eastern Class C.