READFIELD — It was far from perfect, but the Brewer softball team still managed to keep its perfect Class B record intact, regardless.

The defending state champions took advantage of three Gardiner errors in the eighth inning, batting around en route to six runs and shaking off the Tigers with a 13-7 extra-inning win at Kents Hill School on Thursday afternoon. The win, the 21st in a row for Brewer, came in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference season opener for both teams. The Witches have not lost since dropping to Class B at the start of the 2018 season.

Gardiner shortstop Kiley Maschino collects a pop up against Brewer during a softball game on Thursday at Kents Hill School. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Gardiner scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to send the game into extras, where Brewer’s relentless lineup took over. The Witches sent 10 batters to the plate — all of them putting the ball in play — and pushed four runs across the plate before the Tigers could get an out. Not that Gardiner didn’t have opportunities to do just that, with four of the six Brewer runs in the eighth being unearned thanks to three Tiger errors in the inning.

The big blow belonged to Brewer shortstop MacKenzie Dore, who capped her 3 for 5 day at the dish with a three-run homer in the rally. She finished with five runs batted in.

“Our team has a tendency to hold off all of our runs until the end of the game and really stress our coach out,” Brewer senior pitcher Libby Hewes said. “Honestly, we’ve been in these situations many times. We all have complete faith that we can get through it and we’ll add some runs at the end when we really, really need to. We always come through.”

“The last three years, our kids have been able to hit the ball. A lot of times, they hit right through the lineup,” said Brewer coach Skip Estes, who graduated only two starters from last year’s title team. “These kids have been playing together since they were 10 years old, so they’re pretty relaxed. Their mindset right now is that they’ve done it, they want to see if they can be the first (Brewer) team to do two, but they’re not really stressed about it.”

Until the sloppy top of the eighth, it had been a well-played and intriguing matchup, particularly as season openers go for teams that haven’t been outside a whole lot this early in the spring.

“That’s an undefeated state champ, and we stayed with them,” Gardiner coach Don Brochu said. “(The Tigers) surprised me, keeping up with them.”

Brewer scored three times in the first, twice via a Dore double to left-center field. The teams traded single runs in the third before Gardiner found answers in the late innings.

The second of Tiger shortstop Maddie Farnham’s two triples in the game tied the score at 4-4 in the fifth. The Witches responded with three of their own in the top of the sixth, thanks to a Hewes three-run homer to left-center, but the Tigers were up to the challenge yet again in the home half of the inning. Jillian Bisson’s single to right drove in one run, and a Brewer defense which had been so good behind Hewes crumbled a bit and let Farnham bring home two more runs on an error in the infield.

That knotted the score at 7-7.

Bisson knew it would be difficult to keep holding Brewer at bay, as she did in the seventh by stranding runners at the corners with a pair of strikeouts. In all, the Witches rapped out 15 hits against the Gardiner senior hurler. All but one member of the Brewer lineup finished with at least one hit on the day, and five of the top seven in the order collected two or more hits.

“Definitely one of the best (offenses). They’re consistent throughout the entire lineup, and everyone comes in and hits — usually the first pitch,” Bisson said. “We try to work around it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Bisson, out of the leadoff spot, finished with two hits for Gardiner. The Tigers’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Kylie Sirois and Haley Brann, also had two hits apiece.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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