Before the season, new Mt. Abram baseball coach Jeff Pillsbury hoped his Roadrunners could sneak up on a few opponents this season. After Wednesday’s 8-6 win over Monmouth, that may no longer be possible.

Wednesday’s victory improved Mt. Abram’s record to 3-3. Coming off back-to-back winless seasons, the Roadrunners are showing they could be a contender for the playoffs in Class C South.

“You always have to give the kids credit,” Pillsbury said. “We have some good young freshmen and sophomores. Those boys bring a baseball background. They’ve had success at younger levels. And my four seniors, they’ve worked hard and have been pretty good role models.”

The Roadrunners’ success begins with pitching, Pillsbury said.

“We don’t have one of those guys with a big arm, but we’ve got kids that hit their spots, hopefully,” Pillsbury said. “We’re not giving away a lot of free bases. We have been haunted by that big inning.”

There have been some growing pains, and Pillsbury expects to experience more. In the season-opening game at Oak Hill, the Roadrunners carried a three-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, only to fall to Oak Hill, 7-6.

“That was not knowing how to handle being ahead in the seventh inning,” Pillsbury said.

Maintaining composure in those close games will be a season-long project, Pillsbury said. Attitude hasn’t been a problem. Many of the younger players have been on winning baseball teams and “don’t know how to lose,” Pillsbury said. As they pick up varsity wins, confidence will grow, he said. The Roadrunners are improved, but still need to play at their best to see that improvement translate into wins.

“We pretty much have to play an ‘A’ game every night. We’d like to get a tournament spot, but the league (Mountain Valley Conference) is tough,” Pillsbury said.

• • •

One-third into the season, Messalonskee has seen the top and the bottom of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. The Eagles two losses came against Oxford Hills and Edward Little, each undefeated entering Thursday. Messalonskee’s three wins are over Cony, Winslow and Mt. Blue, each of whom was winless before Thursday’s action. Of those five games, only a 14-3 loss to Edward Little wasn’t close.

“Our defense is ahead of where I thought it would be,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “Hitting, we have stretches where we string together good at bats, and stretches where we look like a bunch of freshmen out there. We have to get more consistent if we want to win games.”

Entering the season, Bernier thought pitching depth would be a team strength, and so far that has been the case. Bernier used 12 pitchers in the first five games, with senior Tyler Noonan leading the team in innings pitched with just seven.

“I’m using this early part of the season to see what we’ve got down the stretch,” Bernier said.

The Eagles are scheduled to host Waterville in a cross-class game at 3:30 Friday afternoon. If Thursday’s rain lingers or makes Messalonskee’s field unplayable, the Eagles could play a split doubleheader Saturday. They would host Waterville in the morning, before playing at Skowhegan at 3 p.m. in a makeup of Thursday’s rainout.

“I’ve never had a doubleheader in high school. Not as a player or a coach,” Bernier said.

• • •

At 3-2, Skowhegan sits in fifth place in Class A North. Even with Thursday’s rainout, Skowhegan has a stretch of three games in four days upcoming. The Indians host Camden Hills on Friday and Messalonskee on Saturday, and will play at Lawrence on Monday.

“I think our pitching can handle it,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said.

For Skowhegan to continue winning, LeBlanc said nothing has to change.

“Our biggest thing is competing the way we are,” LeBlanc said.

The team is doing the little things well, like baserunning, LeBlanc added. The key now is figuring out why they’re doing them, and increasing the team’s overall baseball IQ. While the roster is full of talented athletes, many are learning the game on the job.

“We will hit and run and play the field, but we don’t understand the philosophy of the game yet,” LeBlanc said. “We don’t have baseball players. We have kids who play baseball.”

• • •

Around the state: Two of the top teams in Class A will meet Friday, when Bangor travels to Oxford Hills. Both teams are undefeated and are among the favorites to win Class A North… While teams across the state have struggled to get in early season games due to the weather, Narraguagus, Bucksport and Sumner have managed to play seven games, nearly half their schedules. Narraguagus (0-7) is still looking for its first win, however… A big game in Class A South is set for Saturday, when rivals Thornton (3-1) and Biddeford (4-1) meet at St. Louis Field in Biddeford… In Wednesday’s 10-3 win over Bates, the 1,000th win of coach Ed Flaherty’s career, Winslow native Dylan Hapworth hit his team-leading eighth home run of the season for the Huskies. The blast was the 17th of Hapworth’s career. He’s now just over halfway to USM’s career home run mark, 32, set by Pete Misiaszek from 1991-94. Misiaszek his 17 of his home runs in 1993, still USM’s single season record.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM