WATERVILLE — The Cony and Messalonskee high school baseball teams each knew they’re heading to the playoffs, no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s regular season finale at Thomas College.
With the 8-3 win, Cony (9-7) heads into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the state, winning eight of its last nine games to secure the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Class A tournament.
Messalonskee, on the other hand, has struggled in recent games. After opening the season with an eight-game win streak, the Eagles (11-5) went 3-5 down the stretch.
“I’m not comfortable at all. I’m not happy with the way we’re playing, or the way we’ve been playing,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “All I can say is, I hope they find a way. Sometimes in the past, they’ve turned it on, but I’m not happy with the way we’re going right now.”
After Messalonskee took a 1-0 lead in the first, Cony took control of the game with six runs in the top of the second inning. After an error and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with nobody out, Tyler Tardiff singled to score Reid Shostak. With one out, Mitchell Bonenfant walked to force in the go ahead run.
Consecutive singles by Charlie Hallak, Thomas Foster, Tayler Carrier and Shostak scored four more runs, and Cony had a 6-1 lead.
On Monday, the Rams lost to Lawrence, 12-2, and that game stuck with the team.
“It was embarrassing. We’re a better team,” said Shostak, who drove in three runs on a home run and two singles. “We came out and showed it today.”
“It was our worst game, probably of the year. We’ve been playing really solid baseball for the better part of a month. We’d won seven straight,” Cony coach Don Plourde said. “I challenged the boys today before the game, and they were up to the challenge. That’s a really good team over there. That’s a great way to finish off the (regular) season.”
Shostak led off the top of the fifth inning with a home run to left field, and his single to right in the sixth scored Hallak. Sophomore Justin Rodrigue started and pitched four innings for the Rams, holding the Eagles to two hits with his offspeed pitches.
“The speed probably threw us off a little bit. We seem to do a lot better on a little bit faster speed. He did a nice job with his curveball. He threw that pretty well and kept us off balance,” Bernier said.
“(Rodrigue) was great. A sophomore, first start of the season, and look what he does. Shuts down probably the best hitting team in the league. I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Plourde said.
Messalonskee starter Ben Frazee struggled with his control.
After walking four of the first nine hitters he faced, Frazee was pulled for Josh Casey, who allowed four straight hits before settling down.
“I’ll take the blame on that one. We could see right off that Frazee just didn’t have his stuff at all,” Bernier said. “I’d felt it right off, but still kind of rode it, thinking he was going to come out of it.”
Messalonskee scored a run in the third on a Zach Mathieu RBI single. In the sixth, Devin Warren drove in a run for the Eagles.