Winthrop vaulted to second place in the Western Maine Class C tournament standings Monday following its 4-2 win against previously unbeaten St. Dominic. It was the second straight win by the Ramblers over the Mountain Valley Conference powerhouse in Auburn. Last year, Winthrop upset the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It’s a nice win, any time we can knock off an unbeaten team, especially the Saints,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said.

With just one senior and eight sophomores on the team, a trip to the playoffs appeared a realistic goal. Now the Ramblers have a shot to finish among the top three teams and receive a first-round bye. With three games left on the schedule the Ramblers are 10-2.

They’ve exceeded their goals for a couple of reasons. First, they’ve only used three pitchers — junior Jared Hanson and sophomores Ben Allen and Matt Sekerak — and they’ve gone the distance in every game but two, losses to Monmouth and Hall-Dale. Allen picked up the win Monday, walking five while striking out three. He threw 120 pitches.

“It’s a little more than we would have liked to see him throw,” Fortin said. “We’re only throwing our guys once a week so we’re OK with it.”

The Ramblers have also hit well and played sound defense. Monday, they threw two St. Dom’s runners out at home and made the most of seven hits. Sekerak, who bats eighth, is leading the team in hitting at .452.

“We don’t swing at a lot of bad pitches,” Fortin said. “We have good at-bats.”

Fortin credits a lot of the team’s success to assistant coach Dave Morin, who joined the team last year after lengthy stints of coaching soccer and hockey at Edward Little and baseball at Leavitt.

“He’s got 35-plus years coaching kids.” Fortin said. “His biggest thing is probably hitting.”

The Ramblers play at Madison on Friday and finish their 15-game regular season at home Tuesday against Wiscasset.

“By the time Tuesday comes around, all three of our pitchers will be available,” Fortin said.

• • •

Hall-Dale has come on strong the second half of the season and will be a dangerous team to face in Western C playoffs. The Bulldogs (7-5) are in fourth place in the Heal point standings and have played well against the three teams in front of them, losing one-run games to St. Dom’s and Dirigo and beating Winthrop 11-4.

“It was all about getting the pitching straightened out and letting Brian Allen develop,” Hall-Dale coach Tim Johnson said. “Some hitters have also come on.”

Allen, a sophomore right-hander, recently pitched a one-hitter in a 3-2 loss to Mt. Abram and followed that with a shutout against Mountain Valley.

“He’s got great velocity,” Johnson said. “He’s tall. At 6-3, he throws downhill. When he gets ahead of you in the count he can throw it by you.”

Allen is joined in the rotation by sophomore Bobby Cumler and senior Matt Plourde.

“I think Matt’s one of the top two or three players in the conference,” Johnson said. “Putting him in the rotation has settled us down.”

• • •

Gardiner is 6-6  and has only been blown out once this season. Coach Chris McLaughlin is trying to arrange his pitching for the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs. That includes resting senior Dennis Meehan if he can. Meehan has dealt with tendonitis in his right elbow and has pitched sparingly of late.

“This rain could change everything,” said McLaughlin, whose Tigers are in 12th place (13 teams go to the tournament). “We’re trying to work around him as much as we can. If I know we’re going to get in for sure, I’m probably going to hold off on him.”

McLaughlin hopes to pitch sophomore Josh McKelvey in two of the last four games with senior Zach Farrin getting one of the remaining two starts. McKelvey, who has been the team’s most reliable starter, suffered his only poor outing of the season in last week’s 9-7 loss to Oceanside.

“He didn’t really have his good stuff that day,” McLaughlin said.

The Tigers otherwise played well in the loss, getting 11 hits without committing an error. The top of the order has hit well all season, led by leadoff hitter Frank Chepke, Jensen Orewiler, Meehan, Farrin and Hunter Belanger. McLaughlin moved Farrin, his best contact hitter, behind Meehan in the order since he was drawing quite a few intentional walks.

“We’ve been right in every game,” McLaughlin said. “We know we can beat anyone.”

• • •

Maranacook hopes to finish among the top eight in the Western Maine Class B standings so it can get a home prelim game. The Black Bears (6-6) were seventh heading into Wednesday’s game against Leavitt.

“The funny thing is we’ve been a better road team than a home team,” Maranacook coach Eric Brown said.

The Bears have been up and down this season, beating good teams and losing to weaker ones. They handed Waterville a rare loss at home and last week beat Gardiner before dropping a game to Mt. View.

“I think we had a pretty big high after beating Gardiner,” Brown said.

The team’s pitching has been fairly consistent with senior Zach Elwell (3-1) at the top of the rotation followed by junior Skylar Webb and senior Kevin Johnson, who beat Waterville.

“He’s really come on strong at the end,” Brown said of Johnson.

Sophomore Cam Brochu continues to lead the team in hitting at .429 with four home runs while senior Tucker Whitman is batting .375.

 

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