FAIRFIELD — It had been at least a decade since the Lawrence High School baseball team won a playoff game, and 18 years since the Bulldogs won a playoff game at home on Keyes Field. So when the first two Presque Isle hitters of the game reached base, could you blame Lawrence fans if they wondered if those dubious playoff streaks would continue?

A double play got the Bulldogs out of the first inning unscathed. A few timely hits gave Lawrence an early lead, and another strong defensive play in the top of the seventh insured the Bulldogs a 4-2 win.

Lawrence’s Nick Robertson throws against Presque Isle during a Class B North prelim game Monday in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

No. 8 Lawrence, now 8-9, will face No. 1 Ellsworth (15-1) in the Class B North quarterfinals. No. 9 Presque Isle ends the season at 7-10.

“If things start to go not your way, you just need somebody to make a play,” Lawrence coach Rusty Mercier said, and with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and the tying run at the plate, that somebody was Lawrence first baseman Jacob Ryder.

The Bulldogs carried a 4-0 lead in the seventh, and had two on and two out when Andrew Hewitt slapped a two-run single between Ryder and second baseman Zach Nickerson. The next hitter, Sam Beaulieu, hit a one hop grounder to shortstop Dylan Coombs, whose throw to first was low. Ryder made a nice backhand pick on the short hop to get the final out and send Lawrence on to the next round.

“I started to get a little tired, but I knew if I battled and I kept it in the zone, my team was going to make plays. And that’s what they did for me,” Lawrence starting pitcher Nick Robertson said.

A senior lefty, Robertson threw a complete game for the win, giving up four hits and one walk while striking out eight. Between the second and sixth innings, Robertson retired 13 Wildcats in a row, before Ty Schneider reached on an error with one out.

“My fastball felt good for a while. My form, I think I was rushing a little bit. I was trying to speed up the game, and I had to settle down to get back into rhythm,” Robertson said.

Added Mercier: “When things didn’t go quite right, he battled, and that was good for his teammates. He threw a lot of strikes. He took advantage of a throwing balls on the outside corner, which was a strike that both teams were getting. Overall, I thought he just competed. He competed like a senior.”

Presque Isle starting pitcher Chance Bragan also was sharp, striking out seven of nine hitters the second time through the Bulldogs order. Bragan finished with nine strikeouts and no walks while allowing eight hits.

“(Bragan’s) curveball has been on and off. It was on a little bit today,” Presque Isle coach Derrick Kinney said.

Lawrence took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, when Nate Bickford scored on Chris Dow’s sacrifice fly to left field. The Bulldogs added two more runs in the second, when Bickford dropped a bloop single just out of reach of diving center fielder Torey Levesque to score Robertson and Mike Roy. It was Lawrence’s second bloop hit of the inning, and came with two outs.

Lawrence’s Nick Robertson fouls off a pitch against Presque Isle in a Class B North prelim game Monday in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“I guess you could say we should’ve had those. There’s a chance without that, it’s a 2-2 game right now,” Kinney said.

Ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Mercier tried to manufacture a run with a safety squeeze, but Dow’s bunt was right back to the pitcher and Bickford was thrown out at the plate.

“Myself and (Bickford) didn’t communicate well,” Mercier said.

The Bulldogs did add an insurance run in the sixth, when Roy singled with two out to score Robertson. Bickford had three hits for Lawrence, including a double. Robertson singled twice.

 


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