NEWPORT — The Nokomis baseball team had no answer for Maranacook pitcher Dan Garand. And with time running low to figure one out, coach Jared Foster tried to keep it simple for his team.

The Warriors didn’t need much. But they needed something.

“I told them right before the (sixth) inning started, ‘Hey, we’re going to play small ball,’ ” Foster said. ” ‘We’re going to have to get on, bunt somebody over, get a base hit. Baseball 101.”

The Warriors did their coach one better. Zach Hartsgrove and Matt Dyer had RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth, leading Nokomis to a 2-1 victory over Maranacook and making a winner out of starting pitcher Cody Rice.

“The kids battled back,” Foster said. “We’re not young anymore. We’ve been here, we’ve done it. … I was a little nervous there in the fifth, but some kids had big hits at the right time.”

It was the sort of confidence-inspiring win that could linger throughout the season — one Foster expects to be a good one for his team.

“We’ve got high expectations this year,” he said. “We finished pretty well last year (11-8) and we’ve got some team goals to make the playoffs and be a little more successful than last year.”

Nokomis (2-0) appeared out of luck in its efforts to make Monday afternoon part of that endeavor, however, as Garand shook off a first-inning jam and was cruising through the Warrior lineup, having retired the last 10 batters he faced entering the sixth, six by strikeout. The hard-throwing righty started the frame with another strikeout, but Josh Perry reached on a fielding error, then took second when Garand balked during the ensuing at-bat.

That put the tying run in scoring position for No. 3 hitter Hartsgrove, and after getting new life when his foul pop-up landed by the bleachers, the junior catcher smacked a single up the middle. Perry scored, and Hartsgrove raced to second when the late throw home sailed in from center field.

“Zach, all-conference the last two years, is my go-to guy,” Foster said. “When it’s time to get a base hit, he’s going to get a base hit.”

Garand bounced back with a strikeout, but Dyer, swinging at the first pitch, lofted a fly ball toward shallow right field. It was hit high but perfectly placed, and dropped in safely for a single. Hartsgrove, running with two outs, and scored the go-ahead run without a play.

“It looked like it was dropping a little bit. I’m glad it did,” said Dyer, who finished 1-for-3. “There’s definitely a little nerves that goes with it, but I’m just trying to put the ball in play and give him a chance to score.”

Ahead for the first time all game, Rice didn’t let his chance for the win slip away in the seventh. He fanned two of the three Maranacook (0-2) batters, giving him eight for the game, and punctuated the last one with a yell as his teammates joined him to celebrate.

Rice was efficient, needing only 88 pitches for the complete-game victory, and he kept pace with Garand by allowing only two hits to keep the Maranacook hitters from stretching the lead.

“I go hard every night, I really want to do well for my team. I don’t want to let my team down,” he said. “But absolutely, when there’s another good pitcher on the mound, I want to try to match him. … Getting those two runs, that helped push me through the seventh.”

“Cody threw very well,” Foster said. “I was actually going to take him out until we came back, and I figured he earned it. I’d might as well let him finish it out.”

He slipped in one inning — the third, when Duncan Rogers walked with two outs, stole second and scored on Aric Belanger’s single to left. That appeared to be all Garand needed, as the junior struck out 12 in his six innings, allowed three hits and rebounded from a 25-pitch first inning in which he stranded runners at second and third base.

“He gets stronger as the game goes along,” coach Eric Brown said. “He’s a hell of a pitcher, and he did a great job today. We just didn’t get it done for him.

“We don’t have a lot of experience on the offensive and defensive side. We just have to learn to finish, is what it boils down to. We haven’t finished these first two games.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM