READFIELD — Poland sophomore Ethan Cailler had been building toward this game all season.

Used exclusively in relief, the slightly-built right-hander entered Tuesday’s playoff game against Maranacook in the third inning with the score tied and the bases loaded. Cailler escaped that jam and pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way. His teammates rewarded him with a sixth-inning rally that produced an 8-3 victory.

The win pushes the 10th-seeded Knights (10-7) into Thursday’s Western Maine Class B quarterfinal against No. 2 Falmouth while No. 7 Maranacook finishes at 9-8.

Cailler kept the Black Bears in check with a well-placed fastball and a tempting curve. He issued one walk and struck out two.

“I’m not really a strikeout pitcher,” Cailler said. “I’m more of a ground-ball pitcher. I was just trying to throw strikes. We’ve got a good defense.”

The Knights got to Maranacook starter Zach Elwell in the sixth inning. By that time, the senior right-hander had topped 100 pitches and Poland hitters made him pay as they collected four hits, including a pair of long doubles from Kaleb Bridgham and Lukas Johnson. They finished the inning with five hits and five runs as Elwell (5-2) gave way to reliever Skylar Webb.

“He’s a senior and it was potentially his last start,” Maranacook coach Eric Brown said. “I was going to push him as long as I could. He just ran out of gas.”

The Black Bears came out swinging in the first inning with four hits and a pair of runs against Poland starter Jake Simard. Nick Lacasse led off the inning with a solid single to left and scored on Tucker Whitman’s ground-rule double. Whitman scored on a single from Elwell.

The Knights scored a run in the second inning and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third as Corey Cunliffe doubled home a pair.

“We’ve been hitting the ball well lately,” Cailler said.

The Bears tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Carson Dalheim singled and scored on Kevin Johnson’s base hit. They threatened for more but Cailler shut the door on them.

“He’s been gradually coming along,” Poland coach Mike Connor said. “Playoff game he was the guy because he was on the bench he was able to go down to the pen and get loose. I feel pretty comfortable throwing him out there in tough situations.”

Lacasse finished with three hits for Maranacook and made a diving catch in center to save a run and end the fifth inning.

“We started off slow,” Brown said of his team’s season. “We were at 2-4 and we won seven of our last 10. It really just came down to that pitcher for them that made the difference.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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