GARDINER – It rained most of the way on the four-hour bus ride from Presque Isle to Gardiner on Monday, which kept the visiting Wildcats wondering if their preliminary round baseball game would be played.

It was, in a light mist, and the bus trip back to The County seemed much shorter following Presque Isle’s 6-3 victory.

“That’s OK,” Presque Isle coach Derrick Kinney said. “We’ll take a ride to play in the playoffs any time.”

The 10th seeded Wildcats (9-8) advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round where they’ll face No. 2 Hermon. Gardiner, seeded seventh, finishes its season at 11-6.

This game came down to which team would take advantage of errors. Each team made five in the slippery conditions, but it was the Wildcats who made the most of them. They scored four unearned runs off Gardiner starter Hunter Chasse while committing all five errors in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

“Condition-wise, we would have liked to play this on a nice sunny day,” Gardiner coach Russ Beckwith said. “Our group usually is very strong defensively and that’s what kind of let us down today.”

The Wildcats started sophomore Jonah Hudson and he pitched effectively although he, too, was victimized by errors, two in the third when the Tigers scored a run and two more in the sixth when they scored twice.

“Honestly, he’s really been our (No.) 2, but he’s been coming on strong with his breaking stuff,” Kinney said. “He’s started well. RJ Gross has probably been our best pitcher . . . so I felt comfortable going to him to close the game. It worked out well today.”

Neither team hit the ball especially well. The Wildcats finished with seven hits, led by Jake Kinney, who singled twice and doubled. Ryan Kelley had a pair of hits for the Tigers to go with a sacrifice fly.

“Early on in the game we were hitting the ball right at guys,” Beckwith said. “It kind of made it easier for him to cruise through and we didn’t do the things we typically do to move runners around.”

A pair of errors gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the third, then they returned the favor with two errors of their own in the bottom of the inning. Alic Shorey scored for the Tigers when he drew a walk and scored on consecutive throwing errors as he attempted to steal second. Two walks from Chasse and a dropped fly ball gave the Wildcats a 3-1 lead in the fourth. They made it 5-1 in the fifth on two more errors, a balk and an infield hit.

Gardiner made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth as Hudson reached the 90-pitch mark.

“I started to tire in the fifth and sixth innings,” Hudson said. “I knew I had to keep throwing strikes.”

Logan Porter started the inning with a walk, took second on an error and scored when Kolton Brochu’s single was misplayed in the outfield. Kelley’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3. A nice diving catch of Chasse’s fly ball by first baseman Nick Bartlett saved it from being a big inning. Gross retired the side in order in the seventh to earn the save.

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