GARDINER — Cam Brochu made the most of his first and second chances against Gardiner on a wind-swept Tuesday, and it was just enough to hold off the pesky Tigers.

Brochu homered in the first inning then clamped down on a late Gardiner rally in the seventh as Maranacook picked up its second win in as many days, 9-8.

The Black Bears (2-1), who beat Waterville, 4-2 on Monday, outhit the Tigers (2-1), 11-10. But they also took advantage of two critical Gardiner errors which led to seven of their nine runs.

“The lineup one-through-nine has really been coming through, especially in those types of situations for us. It’s been a good start with that,” Maranacook coach Eric Brown said.

The first error came in the first inning when the Tigers’ first baseman misplayed Brochu’s pop foul with a man on and one out. Brochu launched the next pitch from Gardiner starter Josh McKelvey over the left field fence for a quick 2-0 lead.

“He threw me a curveball and, I don’t know, I kind of like those,” said Brochu, who hit his second homer of the season. “He hung it up a little bit and I hit it. I was just thankful I got a second life on that one. I think that really got our team going.”

The Tigers wanted no part of Brochu for most of the rest of the afternoon, intentionally walking him his next three times up (he got a single in his final plate appearance). Cleanup hitter Connor Ireland made them pay on two occasions by following the walks with RBI singles.

“It’s to be expected,” Ireland said of the intentional passes to Brochu. “It is a very big confidence boost to come through in those situations. Just trying to do all I can to help out the team.”

Gardiner had chances to answer Brochu’s blast with two hits in each of its first two times up against Maranacook starter Dan Garand, but the freshman escaped both jams unscathed.

“He’s a big kid. He’s a freshman, got his first start. I liked his composure,” Brown said. “He didn’t look rattled to me, and that’s the key for a freshman.”

Gardiner finally got on the board without a hit in the third, making Garand pay for a leadoff walk with a sacrifice fly by Brady Smith that scored Nic Berube.

Maranacook got the run back in the fourth as Matt Gyorgy singled with one out and ultimately came around to score on a wild pitch.

The Tigers took their first and only lead with four runs in the bottom of the frame despite hitting only two balls out of the infield — McKelvey’s leadoff single and Brad Weston’s sacrifice fly. A wild pitch and a steal of home by Logan Peacock on a double steal put Gardiner ahead, 5-4.

The Black Bears answered with five in the fifth, making Gardiner pay for its second critical mistake, a dropped fly ball in right-center that would have been the third out. Instead, it opened the door for a five-run frame, highlighted by a two-run single by Mark Buzzell and an RBI single by Jason Brooks.

“It’s good to have teachable moments throughout the course of a game. You’d like to still have them after a win, but we can take this once we finally get outside, which will be a big thing for us, to get outside and have some practices so we can put some of those things in play and prepare for those situations,” Gardiner coach Russell Beckwith said.

Garand returned to the mound and had his best inning, a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth, before giving way to reliever Jared Beckwith in the sixth. Gardiner touched him for two runs on an RBI double by Weston and a balk that scored Berube from third to make it 9-7.

Brochu came on to close it in the seventh and surrendered a one-out single, a two-out walk and a two-out, bad-hop RBI single by Eli Fish to make it 9-8. With the potential tying run at third and winning run at first, he got Peacock to ground out to shortstop to end it.

“That was all my team. That wasn’t me,” Brochu said. “That was the first time I’ve ever pitched in the regular season. I was just trying to find the strike zone. I was a little low on everything, but Coach talked to me and told me to stay centered and I started to pick the ball up.”

Brochu, Buzzell, Ireland and Gyorgy all had two hits apiece for the Black Bears. Fish led the Tigers with three hits, while Weston and Ryan Kelley had two each.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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