SKOWHEGAN — In the third inning, Skowhegan Area High School pitcher Kyle Kruse took a pitch from his Hampden Academy counterpart Jackson Thayer off the left shoulder. In the top of the fifth inning, Kruse took a line drive off the bat of Thayer to the inside of his left arm. Thayer may been responsible for Kruse to leave Memorial Field with a couple welts Wednesday afternoon, but Kruse also left with what was most important to his team, the victory.

A junior righty, Kruse threw a complete game shutout, helping Skowhegan take an 8-0 win over the Broncos. Skowhegan (6-8) pulled to approximately two points behind Brunswick for the eighth and final playoff spot in Class A North with games remaining against Mt. Blue (0-11) and Messalonskee (8-6). The loss dropped Hampden to 9-3 and in third place behind undefeated Oxford Hills (14-0) and Edward Little (10-4).

“We still have a lot of work to do. I think we still have to win out to keep the teams behind us behind us,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said.

Added Kruse: I was looking at (the standings) today. This is important to us, and we have two to go.”

Kruse was efficient, throwing strikes and letting his defense do some work, and it did. Skowhegan turned a pair of double plays, including a catch along the foul line by right fielder Ryan Savage, who then threw a strike to catcher Aidan Louder at the plate to nail Thayer trying to score from third base in the top of the fifth inning.

“I had the curveball, that worked pretty well the first few innings. Then I let (the defense) make plays in the second half (of the game), and let my catcher Aidan (Louder) call a great game.,” Kruse said.

Kruse scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out two. The Broncos had three runners reach third base, but each was stranded thanks to an errorless Skowhegan defense.

“I think it was more of our pitcher making our defense look better. We’ve gotten in trouble in games where we didn’t throw strikes and out defense was on our heels a lot. Today he pounded the zone and the kids made the plays,” LeBlanc said.

Skowhegan scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, and it capitalized on five Hampden errors for five unearned runs. Cam Louder’s RBI single gave Skowhegan a 3-0 lead in the third. Skowhegan added a pair of runs in the fourth, on a Carter Hunt sacrifice fly to center field and Aidan Louder’s bases loaded walk, for a 5-0 lead.

Hunt’s two-run single in the bottom of the fifth pushed Skowhegan’s lead to 8-0. Leadoff hitter Jimmy Reed scored a pair of runs, while Lucas Patchell scored twice and had two hits, including a double.

“We’ve been making the plays, it’s just the timely hits and the execution at bat. We’ve been a couple runs back a lot of games and it comes down to execution and focus,” LeBlanc said. “Today we had both.”

Evan Thomas had a pair of hits for Hampden.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

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