GARDINER — A few inches was all the Oceanside High School baseball team needed Saturday afternoon.

Locked in a tie game, the Mariners scored twice in the top of the seventh thanks to a few close plays to capture a 3-1 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B win over host Gardiner in a pitchers’ duel between the Tigers’ Nic Berube and the Mariners’ Logan Sheridan.

Each starter went the distance, with Sheridan allowing just the one run on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on 93 pitches, 60 of which were for strikes. Berube allowed just three hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts, but was plagued by free passes as he walked seven and hit a batter.

“Our effort was real good (Saturday). They saw an arm (Sheridan) that was pretty good that kept them in the game late. We battled and every pitch we were in there,” Gardiner coach Russell Beckwith said. “We were aggressive at the plate (Saturday) and put the ball in play a lot. We’re just talking about a couple inches there at the end that really changed the game.”

Admittedly tired and approaching 100 pitches, Berube went back out for the top of the seventh with the score 1-1 to try to give his team a chance to win it in the bottom half of the inning. He walked Thomas Curtis to start the inning, though, who was in turn lifted for pinch runner Michael Dougherty.

Sheridan followed and tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but offered and missed at the first pitch from Berube. Anticipating contact, Dougherty wandered too far from first and Gardiner catcher Kolton Brochu — who had caught two runners stealing at second earlier in the contest — snapped a throw to first baseman Eli Fish. Dougherty was ruled safe on the play having gotten back to the base mere moments before Fish’s tag.

Berube went on to strike Sheridan out on four pitches, but then walked Colby Dorr on six pitches to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

Jacob Bartlett, the Mariners’ No. 8 hitter, made the Tigers pay six pitches later with the count full. Bartlett grounded a ball just to the shortstop side of second base that for what it lacked in pace made up for in placement, as it rolled just past the diving attempt from Gardiner shortstop Devon Maschino to allow Dougherty to score from second.

Berube then walked Hunter Davis to load the bases and lead-off hitter Michael Norton Jr. flew out to Ryan Kelley in right field just deep enough to score Dorr tagging up from third. Berube managed to mitigate any further damage two pitches later — his 116th of the game — when he got Titus Kaewthong to pop out to Fish in foul territory to end the threat.

“I started feeling it at the end of the sixth inning,” Berube said. “I couldn’t bring the velocity in the last inning.”

Sheridan allowed a lead-off walk to Hunter Chasse to begin the bottom of the seventh, but bounced back immediately by getting Brady Smith to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and striking out Deven Walker to end the game.

“They’re a good team,” Oceanside coach Don Shields said. “When we started the season I thought the four best teams in the conference were us, Winslow, Gardiner and Belfast, and they proved to me (Saturday) that Gardiner is a team that’s going to be tough throughout the year.

“Berube pitched a hell of a ballgame for them, and just lost command there for the first couple of batters and that gave us the crack that we needed.”

While the breaks ultimately went against the Tigers, a fortuitous one in the bottom of the fourth allowed them to tie the game.

Oceanside took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Kaewthong drew a one-out walk and later scored on a passed ball, but Gardiner answered back in the fourth. Berube led off with a single and Kelley then swung at the first offering he saw from Sheridan on a well-timed hit-and-run.

The right-handed hitting Kelley sent the ball toward where the second baseman, Davis, would have been playing had he not broken toward the bag at second to cover a potential throw to catch Berube stealing. Instead, the base hit trickled into right field and Berube went from first to third. He then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Chasse, but it would be the only run the Tigers could muster.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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