BUCKFIELD — There were no tears following Valley’s 9-6 loss to Buckfield in Thursday’s Western Maine Class D baseball championship game.

The losing Cavaliers had never come this far and with a lineup stocked with underclassmen, including four eighth graders, there’s a good chance they’ll return. The third-seeded Cavs got hot at the end of the season and finished at 9-7 after going 1-12 a year ago.

Top-seeded Buckfield (17-1), a heavy favorite for the Western Maine title, will play Eastern Maine champ Bangor Christian in Bangor on Saturday for the state championship. The Bucks last appeared in a state final in 1997 but have never won it all.

“The mercied us twice (this season) by double digits,” said Valley’s Matt Hunnewell, one of two seniors on the team. “To come within three this time is a win in itself.”

Both starting pitchers — Valley’s Caleb Wade and Buckfield’s Jonah Williams — struggled with their control at the outset. Williams walked four batters in the first inning, leading to two Valley runs. Carrington Miller knocked in one run with a ground ball while eighth grader Cody Laweryson drove in the other with a sacrifice fly. Despite his age, Laweryson played a strong game at shortstop, saving a run at one point with a backhand play in the hole.

“I had a lot of nerves,” he said. “I’ve never been here before.”

Wade, Valley’s other senior, walked the first two batters on eight pitches. After getting an out, he gave up a two-run single to Buckfield catcher Alan Lebel, the East/West Conference Player of the Year. Wade settled down and struck out the next to batters as the teams went to the second inning tied at 2.

Both pitchers coasted through 1-2-3 innings in the second, but Wade started to lose his control again in the third when he walked five batters before being lifted in favor of Miller.

“He found it, then he lost it again in the third,” Valley coach Paul Belanger said of Wade’s control. “He hasn’t pitched in 15 days.”

The game was characterized by many more walks than hits. Valley pitching issued eight walks while collecting just two hits, both singles from Seth Malloy. Williams was relieved by Cody White in the fifth inning and together the two Buckfield pitchers combined to walk 11. The offense produced just three hits, two of those by Lebel.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Lebel said of Williams. “That’s the first time we’ve ever seen him struggle. He said before the game he wasn’t feeling too well.”

The Bucks scored six times in the third inning on just two hits, a shot up the middle from Lebel and an infield hit by White. Miller relieved Wade, got a final out and pitched well over the last three innings.

The Cavs scored four runs without a hit in the fifth inning. Williams walked two batters, hit another and was victimized by a dropped fly ball in the outfield. White came on and also struggled with his control, walking in a pair of runs before striking out Miller to end the inning.

Valley didn’t mount a threat over the final two innings while the Bucks touched Miller for an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth.

“They’re a very good team, they deserve it,” Belanger said. “We gave it everything we had.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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