NEWPORT — As the final out was made, the Waterville Senior High School baseball team celebrated as if it had just earned a playoff win. That’s not what happened, but Friday’s 6-5 win at Nokomis pushed the Purple Panthers from the edge of the Class B North playoff picture on to more stable postseason ground.

Waterville (9-6) entered Friday’s game in 14th place in the Class B North Heal point standings, holding a slim edge over Maine Central Institute for the region’s final playoff spot. The win over the Warriors jumped Waterville to ninth place, with the regular season finale against Winslow on Tuesday.

“We needed to move ourselves up and that was a huge win and should give us some Heal points,” Waterville senior Cody Pellerin said.

“We dropped a couple tough ones earlier this week, and coming into this we looked at the Heals and knew this was a big game for us,” Waterville coach Russell Beckwith said. “We came in with a different mentality than we have, knowing we needed to get out of here with a win.”

Pellerin came on to pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the Panthers ahead 5-4 and Nokomis’ tying run on third base with one out. Pellerin got a pair of strikeouts, but Josh Grozik reached on a strike three passed ball, allowing Andy Hopkins to score the tying run.

“That’s a tough one to swallow, but we get that one right back and we got our confidence back,” Pellerin said.

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Kai Rabideau led off the top of the seventh for the Panthers getting hit by a pitch. Kody Vallee reached on a bunt single, and when the throw to first sailed wide, it allowed Rabideau to come all the way around to score the go ahead run. Zach Hartsgrove led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and went to second base on a passed ball, but Pellerin recorded three consecutive strikeouts to end the game.

“That’s what I was just talking to the guys about, coming up with that big hit. It wasn’t there today,” Nokomis (10-5) coach Scott Hartsgrove said. “We’ve just got to keep moving forward and try to figure it out. We’ve got one more tough game coming Tuesday against Brewer.”

Pellerin was available to come in relief of starter David Barre because he was held to a low pitch count in Tuesday’s loss to Maranacook.

“It helped having him able to come in and shut the door with David’s pitch count getting up. David did a really good job keeping us in the game, too,” Beckwith said. “It’s nice for us as a group to come together and finally scratch out a tough-fought game. We’ve been on the other side of a lot of tough ones so far.”

Waterville opened the game hot, scoring three runs in the top of the first to take a 3-0 lead. In the second inning, Cody Marquis came on in relief of starter Garrett Burke and settled things down for the Warriors. Marquis allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings to keep Nokomis in the game.

“(Marquis) got us through some tough times in the game. He settled in quick. He pounded the strike zone early, and he looked really sharp today,” Coach Hartsgrove said.

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Nokomis took a 4-3 lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning, taking the lead when Gabe Gilley scored on Hopkins’ RBI single. Waterville tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth when Alex Vargas scored on a passed ball. The Panthers regained the lead in the sixth when Chase Wheeler scored on a Jack Thompson groundout.

“We stuck together as a team the whole time. They were louder than us and we said we’ve got to keep it up. We’ve got to be louder than them. We were, and we took over the game,” Pellerin said.

Rabideau scored a pair of runs for Waterville. Josh Perry, Zach Hartsgrove, Gilley, and Hopkins each had two hits for the Warriors.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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