Winthrop’s Maguire Anuszewski collects a throw to home as Mt. Abram’s Luke Kearing slides in Tuesday in Winthrop. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

WINTHROP — The Mt. Abram baseball team was down. But even with a six-run deficit, the Roadrunners were not out.

And according to cleanup hitter Luke Kearing, none of them thought they were.

“We’ve had some tough games this season,” he said. “But when we get hot, we get hot.”

Kearing helped make sure the narrative played out again. The junior’s three-run homer keyed a six-run, third-inning rally that tied the game, Nate Luce shut the Winthrop bats down in relief, and another late offensive surge lifted the 10th-seeded Roadrunners past the seventh-seeded Ramblers, 14-8, in the C South preliminary round.

Mt. Abram (9-8), which trailed 8-2 in the second, will play No. 2 Maranacook on Thursday. Winthrop is done at 10-7.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Luce, who also scored three runs. “Everybody usually sleeps on Mt. Abram, so it’s huge for us to come in here and beat them.”

Things couldn’t have started much worse. Mt. Abram went up 2-0 in the top of the first, but Winthrop came right back with four runs in the bottom half, and then piled on four more in the second.

When the Roadrunners reconvened in the dugout, however, they could tell there was plenty of fight left.

Mt. Abram’s Trevor Phelps grabs a line drive at short Tuesday in Winthrop. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

“We knew 8-2 was nothing. It was only the second inning,” Luce said before motioning to the scoreboard. “We knew we were capable of putting 14 up there.”

The rally began with a Kenyon Pillsbury single, and two batters later, Ben Debaise singled to right to put runners at the corners. Up came Kearing, who showed bunt on the first pitch before tagging the second down the right field line.

“I’m just looking for a base hit, drive a run in,” said Kearing, who had two hits and four RBIs. “It felt like I hit the sweet spot, but most of my shots this year have been foul. I was glad to see that one sneak (in).”

Kearing raised his fist before the ball disappeared over the wall, and the Roadrunners dugout erupted.

“I thought it was a spark to get us started,” Kearing said.

The comeback continued when Hunter Warren and Ethan Powell singled and Trevor Phelps doubled to right, scoring Warren, and Powell and Phelps eventually scored on a throwing error to tie the game at 8.

“We haven’t hit. We just haven’t had that timely hit,” coach Jeff Pillsbury said. “But tonight, we had a bunch of timely hits.”

Mt. Abram went ahead without getting a hit in the sixth, as walks to Luce and Debaise led to runners at the corners, and a wild pitch and errant throw back to the pitcher allowed both to come in and make it 10-8. Winthrop’s leaky defense resulted in three more errors in the seventh, and an RBI single by Marty Kelley and sacrifice fly by Pillsbury made it 12-8. Back-to-back errors allowed Wyatt Sieminski and Luce to cross home and up the advantage to 14-8.

It was all the backing Luce needed. The junior came on in the fourth and immediately extinguished the Winthrop bats, throwing 3.2 hitless innings while striking out three.

“I love the pressure,” he said. “I hadn’t pitched my best game yet, so I’m glad it came today. … I was hitting the corners. I never usually hit the corners like that. Everything was going right for me.”

Luce got every out but the last one; with a large lead, Coach Pillsbury pulled the righthander to preserve his availability for Thursday. Warren, who started the game, came in to finish it.

“I was proud of the boys. That was a team effort,” Coach Pillsbury said. “I’m hoping we’re the hottest team in the playoffs. You don’t always have to be the best team, but sometimes the hottest.”

In the first, Kearing had an RBI single and Mt. Abram got another run on an error to go up 2-0. Winthrop answered first with Cam Hachey’s RBI single, and then with a bases-clearing triple from Chase Keezer that made it 4-2. Winthrop jumped on the Roadrunners again in the third, as an error on a well-hit ball to right by Maguire Anuszewski allowed Jackson Ladd, Colby Emery and Brad Bourne to score, and Hachey brought Anuszewski in with a hard single to left that made it 8-2.

“It was a true team event,” assistant coach Jonathan Novak said of the fast start. “The middle, bottom of the lineup hit the ball really well. That’s what a team does.”

It didn’t take long for the game to change.

“It was certainly a tough game. We threw the ball around a little bit too much, more than we should have,” Novak said. “It’s just the way it goes. It’s baseball. Anything can happen any day.”

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