WATERVILLE — Resilient was the word that came to mind for Maranacook Community High School baseball coach Eric Brown to describe his team’s performance Friday afternoon against Waterville Senior High.

Trailing by a run and struggling to get anything going against Purple Panthers left-handed starter Adam Barre through the first four innings, the Black Bears (2-0 Class B South) finally broke through with a pair of runs in the fifth on their way to a 3-1 win.

“They’re a pretty resilient bunch. We had some guys that weren’t getting it done in the lineup, and we had some guys that came in and picked them up,” Brown said. “That was huge for us. It was a one-through-nine effort.”

Limited to just one hit and trailing 1-0, Maranacook senior Vinnie Birtwell dropped down a bunt on the third base side of the pitcher’s mound to open the top of the fifth inning. Barre fielded the ball, but his throw to first was off the mark to allow Birtwell to reach safely.

“(Barre) was mixing it up nice,” Brown said. “He was hitting his spots and we needed to change it up a little bit. Sometimes you get that small ball going and it changes the defensive outlook. That’s what we had to do.”

Birtwell promptly stole second, reached third on a passed ball and scored on a double from Max McQuillen to right field to knot the game at one apiece.

McQuillen advanced to third on a groundout to second by Jason Brooks, but it appeared as if Barre and the Purple Panthers (0-2 Class B North) would escape without any further damage after inducing a Mark Buzzell popout to Waterville first baseman Jackson Aldrich in foul territory for the second out.

Barre quickly jumped ahead of Maranacook cleanup hitter Connor Ireland 0-2, but the tall lefty battled back to spoil a good curveball and fouled off another pitch before taking two straight balls to even the count at 2-2. Ireland then flashed that resiliency Brown had spoke of, sending a pitch back up the middle to plate McQuillen and give the Black Bears the lead for good.

“(Ireland) is probably one of the hardest working kids on the team, also another captain (with Birtwell) and he gives it his all,” Brown said. “He gets it done.”

Birtwell came through again for the Black Bears in the top half of the following inning to give the visitors some breathing room. He ripped a two-out double to the gap in the left-center field to plate Matt Gyorgy — who had singled and stole second earlier in the inning — to round out the game’s scoring.

“Some of the kids weren’t seeing (the ball), I guess,” Birtwell said, “but we found it”

The two-run advantage proved to be plenty for Maranacook starter Chris Florek. The tall right-hander went six innings and allowed just the single run on five hits, two walks and three strikeouts. The hard-throwing Brooks stepped in from shortstop to pitch the bottom of the seventh, throwing a perfect inning and striking out two of the three batters he faced.

“(Florek) is a solid competitor,” Brown said. “He loves to have the ball in his hand and he didn’t want to come out.”

Though it could not hold onto the lead, it was still a step in the right direction — particularly early on — for Waterville after suffering a 10-0 loss to Winslow in its season opener on Wednesday.

After stranding a runner at second in the bottom of the first, the Purple Panthers did not make the same mistake in the bottom half of the following inning. Alex Maheux led off the inning with a single and two batters later advanced to second on a softly hit ball to short. Justin Wentworth then delivered a double to left-center to plate the run, but it would prove to be Waterville’s lone hit with runners in scoring position in five chances on the afternoon.

“We played about five good ones and then the last couple we kind of fell asleep a little bit situationally,” Waterville assistant coach Kyle Bishop said. “Give (Maranacook) credit, they hit the ball all day. They hit it at people too, but Adam pitched a heck of a game. He kept us in it the whole time. We just have to play a full seven, that’s what it comes down to.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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