In the long run, Messalonskee High School baseball coach Ray Bernier thinks last week’s 10-0 loss at Hampden will be good for the Eagles.

“We got our butts kicked up there. The kid (Matt Palmer) pitched well. That’s the first time we actually got to see some good pitching, up to that point,” Bernier said after Wednesday’s 5-3 win over Skowhegan. “I’m glad we saw them early. Let them see what’s going to be coming if they’re not prepared for it.”

Despite returning six players who played in the Class A state title game last season, the defending champion Eagles are still very young. The starting lineup against Skowhegan included six sophomores and a freshman.

“We’re still trying to find our own chemistry, our own identity,” Bernier said.

On Wednesday, the Eagles tried a different approach at the plate in an effort to break out of a team-wide hitting slump. Rather than work deep into counts, Messalonskee hitters tried to attack if they saw a good pitch early. They finished with nine hits in a 5-3 win.

“I’d like to think it paid off. They started attacking the ball a little bit sooner,” Bernier said. “We’ve been over patient, and then we let the good ones go. All of a sudden, we’re swinging at the bad ones. We decided that hey, if we liked that first one, we’re going to get a good cut at it. Otherwise, then we’ll work the count, so we won’t be back on our heels.”

Now 3-1, the Eagles play at Mt. Blue on Friday.

* * *

Nothing makes the sting of a tough loss fade away like following it up with a wild win, as Maine Central Institute learned Monday.

“Baseball can be your best friend or your worst enemy,” MCI coach John Dean said.

Last Friday, the Huskies lost a tight game to Leavitt, 7-6, after holding a three-run lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. It was in that seventh inning, while making a pitching change, Dean saw something that showed him his team would be OK. After left fielder Chuck Moriarty was unable to make a difficult catch, six of his teammates huddled around Moriarty, letting him know they had his back.

“It was a tough play. That would’ve been a heck of a catch. These guys pick each other up,” Dean said. “I said, ‘We’ll learn how to win these games.’ I didn’t know it would be so soon.”

On Monday, the Huskies took a come from behind 4-3 win over Nokomis when Cam Michaud scored from second base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. After being hit by a pitch with one out, Michaud stole second, just beating the tag.

With two outs, Ethan Duplisea hit a ground ball to second base. The Nokomis defender struggled to control the ball, and Michaud, who never hesitated, came around to score the winning run.

The win was a much-needed confidence boost for the Huskies. MCI won just one game last season.

“I told them, ‘A couple breaks went our way because we play baseball the right way,’ ” Dean said. “They’re just learning, and they’re eager to get better every day.”

* * *

Monday’s 14-1 win at Boothbay was a first for Troy Dunphy in his seven years as Carrabec’s baseball coach. The Cobras won via the 10-run mercy rule.

“We did everything right,” Dunphy said. “We were patient at the plate and we were aggressive on the bases. It was a good day. It was a great bus ride home.”

Carrabec played a junior varsity schedule in 2011 in order to reboot the baseball program. The Cobras have often been on the losing end of the 10-run rule, which dictates a high school baseball game is over if either team has a 10-run lead after five innings. Dunphy said he felt the baseball culture at Carrabec was beginning to change for the better last season. Although the Cobras won just one game in 2012, they played more fundamentally sound baseball, and that carried over into the season opener at Boothbay.

“Boothbay made some errors, but we played well,” Dunphy said. “We did some stuff, and it worked. We ran a suicide squeeze. I’ve never been able to do that before.”

Carrabec’s turnaround won’t be easy. The Cobras played perennial Western Class C power St. Dominic on Wednesday and will face Class B Oak Hill, a newcomer to the Mountain Valley Conference, on Friday. The Cobras have another game against a Class B opponent on Monday when they play at Spruce Mountain.

“We have a good group together, and we’re going to do some things. We’re starting to come together,” Dunphy said.

* * *

Around the state: Early indications are this season the KVAC B will be a hitter’s league. Nine of the 13 teams have scored at least 10 runs in one game, and the season is barely a week old… Mt. Desert Island is 4-0, and the Trojans are winning with pitching. While MDI is averaging just three runs per game, the Trojans have given up just four runs total, and have a pair of shutouts… Defending Western A champ Scarborough opened the season with a pair of shutout wins. The Red Storm play their next three games on the road, at Westbrook, Bonny Eagle, and South Portland.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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