SKOWHEGAN — It was going to take more than an early four-run deficit to knock Skowhegan out of a regional tournament on its home field. And Skowhegan acted like it knew it.

“Just being loud in the dugout keeps everybody happy and it keeps everything smooth,” Skowhegan pitcher/third baseman Ben Morgan said.

While Morgan and reliever Simon Lewis were smoothing things out on the mound in the middle innings, Skowhegan’s offense put together a loud, eight-run third inning to rally over Oxford, Connecticut, 12-5, in Tuesday’s elimination game of the Cal Ripken 11-Under New England baseball tournament at the Carl Wright Complex.

The hosts will face Marlboro, Massachusetts, at 5 p.m. Wednesday for a spot in Thursday’s championship game.

Quintcey McCray and Hunter McEwen led Skowhegan’s 14-hit explosion with three hits apiece. Patrick McKenney notched a pair of hits.

Trailing 5-3, Skowhegan sent 13 to the plate in the decisive third inning. The first five batters reached via four singles and a walk before the first out, and even that, a ground out to second by Kyle LePage, drove in a run.

Morgan’s single to center drove in the tying run and McCray, who was able to come around with the go-ahead run when the Oxford center fielder over-ran the ball.

McEwen had a pair of singles, scored a run and drove in the final run in the frame. Adam Savage ripped an RBI double.

“Once we got up, everything went better,” Morgan said. “We felt more relaxed.”

It took some time for Morgan and his teammates to get settled in. Oxford jumped on them for three runs in the first, helped by a Skowhegan error. Skowhegan responded with one in the bottom of the first, but kept itself from cutting the deficit further with a baserunning mistake.

“We played a little sloppily,” Skowhegan manager Doug McEwen said. “Honestly, we had some mental errors early in the game. They put the ball in play and put pressure on us. But these kids, overall, they’re tough, and they hang in there.”

Oxford made it 5-1 with a well-executed safety squeeze by Ethan Coleman in the second, but it could have been worse for Skowhegan. Morgan left the bases loaded by inducing a fly out to left.

An RBI double by Collin LePage helped Skowhegan cut further into the deficit. Morgan allowed a pair of singles but didn’t let Oxford add to its lead in the third before giving way to Lewis in the fourth.

Lewis allowed an infield hit to the first batter he faced, then struck out the side. He ended up retiring eight in a row, six via strikeout.

“I was pretty confident when we had a five-run lead with Simon coming in,” McEwen said. “We were just going to be okay.”

A two-out walk ended Lewis’ string of outs in the sixth, but he got the next batter to ground into a fielder’s choice to end it.

Besides Marlboro, two other Massachusetts teams will play in today’s semifinals. Chelmsford faces Freetown/Lakeville at 5:15.

“We’ve got as good a chance as anybody,” McEwen said. “It’s been a long week. Most of the other teams are living out of hotels. We’re staying in our own bed. That’s certainly an advantage, when you’re sleeping in your own bed at night.”

“It definitely helps us,” Morgan said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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