AUGUSTA — A work of art this game was not.

Featuring 20 hits, 10 walks, 23 runners stranded on the basepaths, more than 270 pitches and a time of game that would make Major League Baseball proud, Skowhegan remained undefeated by leaving Cony Family Field with an 8-1 win over the host Rams on Wednesday afternoon. Skowhegan, which got a 3 for 4 effort from catcher Sydney Reed that included three runs batted in, improved to 8-0 in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

Lee Johnson realized how silly it sounded for the coach of an undefeated team to be less than pleased with adding another win at the midway point of the season, yet there he was doing just that.

“We weren’t really good today, and neither were they,” Johnson said. “We’re still really growing right now. That’s the thing I’m looking at. Yes, we’re undefeated, but I don’t even know that we’re playing to our ability by any means. We’ve got to get better.”

Skowhegan jumped out to a 5-0 lead after an inning and a half and appeared to have things in cruise control. But it left the bases loaded without scoring in both the third and fifth innings, and in the fourth a pair of one-out singles from Jaycie Christopher and Annie Cooke (3 for 5 with a double and a triple) led to just a single run.

In all, the visitors left 13 runners on base.

“We left a lot of runners on, which is not really like us,” Reed said. “There were so many. We didn’t have timely hits. We’d get people on, get the bases loaded, and that’s when we’d decide to pop one up to left field. That’s just kind of how it worked out today. It will be different on another day, I think.”

Cony’s Brooklyn Belanger tries to make a play at shortstop against Skowhegan’s Sydney Ames on Wednesday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

At the top of the order, Sydney Ames and Reed were catalysts. They started the game with back-to-back doubles for the 1-0 lead, and in the second they did it again.

That type of offensive outburst didn’t happen again, despite constant activity on the basepaths. When leaving the bases loaded in the sixth, albeit after getting a run home off Cooke’s RBI double, it marked the third time Skowhegan managed to do that.

“We left a million people on base,” Johnson said. “All we needed was a couple of timely hits and the game could have changed completely. We just couldn’t get that one big hit we needed to make things a little bit different.”

Some of the credit had to go to Cony pitcher Gaby McGuire, who did a fine job limiting damage and holding potential big innings down to just a single run. Her defense, too, was stellar at important times: Tanley Tibbetts led to rob Ames of a would-be double in center field to end the third inning and first baseman Jaden Bowley tracked down a pop-up in foul territory to end the seventh.

“For (McGuire), she just needs to get a good feel on what the batters are like and what the umpire’s calling for balls and strikes,” Cony coach Angela McKenna said of her pitcher. “After a few batters, she said, ‘OK, I know where I need to go.’ She did, and she pulled it in and was able to compete a bit better.”

Cony’s Sam Melland can’t get under a pop up to left field against Skowhegan on Wednesday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Not that McKenna was any less frustrated than Johnson was.

In a game that featured only a single half-inning where a side was retired in order — Cony’s half of the second — the Rams couldn’t deliver a big hit to get Skowhegan’s Ames on the ropes. Five of the 10 runners Cony left on base were left in scoring position, and after Sam Melland’s two-out single to right put Cony on the scoreboard Ames recovered with one of her eight strikeouts to end the threat.

“We just didn’t get a lot of hits in a row,” McKenna said. “That was our problem. We had some hits, they just were never in a combination so we could work off it.”

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