WATERVILLE — When James Smith took the mound for the Messalonskee High School baseball team in the top of the fifth inning Monday, he inherited a one-run lead. Just the situation Smith loves.

“I feel like I pitch the best when there’s a little bit of pressure on me. I know my infielders have my back,” Smith, a sophomore, said.

Messalonskee’s Mitchell Grant fields a late throw as Mt. Ararat’s Austin Damon slides into third base during game on Monday in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Smith held the lead, but it wasn’t easy. Mt. Ararat had the tying run on third base with one out in the top of the seventh, with the heart of the order coming up. A strikeout of No. 3 hitter Austin Damon and a ground out to third base from cleanup man Devin Tobin got Smith and Messalonskee out of the jam and gave it a 6-5 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A win at Thomas College.

Messalonskee improved to 6-4, while Mt. Ararat is 6-5.

Smith came on in the top of the fifth in relief of Tyesn Paz, who gave up four runs, just one earned, in four innings.

“Tyesn pitched great. We just didn’t have any defense for him to start the game. James has been our primary bullpen guy. He comes in and picks guys up, and he’s been phenomenal doing that. He did it again today. He throws strikes. He’s always ahead (in the count),” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said.

Down 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Messalonskee capitalized on Mt. Ararat mistakes to take the lead. Starting pitcher Ben Freeman walked four in the first three innings, but worked out of trouble with seven strikeouts over that span. In the fourth, Freeman walked the first three Eagles to load the bases. Hunter Lohr came on in relief and walked his first hitter, Jake Perry, to drive in Messalonskee’s first run. Back-to-back errors allowed Messalonskee to tie the game, and the Eagles took a 5-4 lead when Dylan Cunningham scored on Ben Hellen’s RBI single.

“We did a great job holding them back, and that gave us enough time to get that big inning,” Bernier said.

In the bottom of the fifth, Perry hit an RBI single to score Mitch Grant and push Messalonskee’s lead to 6-4. Mt. Ararat coach Brett Chase said the walks and errors have been a common problem for his club over the last week and a half. Monday’s game was Mt. Ararat’s third consecutive loss.

“We’ve had two practices outside. We’ve got to get outside this week and clean up simple mistakes. But, it’s stuff we’ve got to clean up,” Chase said.

Kobe Clark led off the top of the seventh with an infield single for Mt. Ararat. With one out, Lohr singled to left field. An error on the play allowed Clark to score, cutting Messalonskee’s lead to 6-5, and sending Lohr to second base. Lohr swiped third to put the pressure on Smith to deliver with two of Mt. Ararat’s big bats due up.

“It was a good batter up there, so I made sure I pitched low,” Smith said of striking out Damon.

Damon drove in one run in the first, and another in the third to help Mt. Ararat build a 4-0 lead. Hellen had a pair of hits for Messalonskee and reached base four times.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

 

 

 


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