Oxford Hills pitcher Colton Carson throws a pitch during Thursday’s Class A North quarterfinal baseball game in Paris. Brewster Burns photo

PARIS — Leading up to Thursday’s Class A North quarterfinal against Skowhegan, Oxford Hills baseball coach Shane Slicer had a tough decision about whether to start ace pitcher Colton Carson or save him for the semifinals.

The Vikings’ goal this season is to win a state championship. But they have to get there first.

So, against eighth-seeded Skowhegan, the first of what the top-seeded Vikings hope will be four postseason games over 10-day period, Slicer opted to send Carson to the mound at Gouin Athletic Complex.

“It’s an easy call just to throw your best out there and win and move on,” Slicer said.

Carson helped the unbeaten Vikings pick up where they left off the regular season, pitching a no-hitter in a 7-0 win.

“He was dealing. He was throwing really well,” Slicer said. “He never let anything get out of control. He owned the game. That’s how I felt: it was in his hands the whole time.”

After a brief discussion on the mound, catcher Wyatt Williamson and pitcher Colton Carson exchange a fist bump during Thursday’s Class A North quarterfinal baseball game. Brewster Burns photo

Oxford Hills (17-0) will next host No. 5 Lewiston (10-7) in the semifinals Saturday.

Carson, a hard-throwing right-hander committed to play at the University of Maine next season, struck out eight batters, including two in the final inning, and allowed only three walks. He threw 98 pitches.

“I felt like I was attacking the zone,” Carson said. “The umpire kind of had a smaller zone today, but we kept it all going straight downhill and it worked out well for us.”

There was some question after the game about whether or not it was a no-hitter due to an error in the first inning. Skowhegan marked it as an infield hit, but it seemed like a routine play and the Oxford Hills coaches said it was one that their second baseman almost always makes.

While Slicer debated whether to start of save Carson, Skowhegan wasn’t surprised to see him take the mound. He always seems to be the starter when the two teams meet.

“Like I told Coach Slicer, we face him every time we come here,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said. “Ever since he’s started, we’ve faced him every single year.”

Carson said the no-hitter is the second he has thrown.

“I think I threw one in AAU when I was like 13, but that’s it,” Carson said. “It’s pretty awesome. But, I don’t know, it’s weird, it doesn’t feel like it actually happened.”

Oxford Hills pitcher Colton Carson delivers a pitch to Skowhegan’s Marcus Christopher during Thursday’s Class A North quarterfinal baseball game. Brewster Burns

Carson struck out four consecutive batters, fanning the side in the third inning and the first out of the fourth. That was followed by his first walk and then the only two times Skowhegan hit the ball out of the infield, the first a fly out to left-center field and then a hard-hit line drive that Will Dieterich snagged with a diving catch.

“We just tell (Carson) that we got the greatest defense in the state, and if the throws strikes we’re going to be fine,” Vikings catcher Wyatt Williamson said.

After finishing off a 16-0 regular season last Tuesday, the Vikings had a nine-day layoff, though they did have a scrimmage earlier this week. Slicer was concerned about the length of time between meaningful games, particularly that the offense might be rusty.

The Vikings had only five hits, including two by Janek Luksza, but used those hits and 11 walks to produce seven runs.

The first run came on a balk in the bottom of the third inning, bringing in Caden Truman.

Skowhegan pitcher Kyle Kruse walked the next three batters, which brought in Ethan Cutler for the second run.

Williamson then drove in Rodney Bean and Luksza with a single to right field.

“I was looking for an outside pitch, something that I could hit a line drive to right field, and that’s exactly what I got,” Williamson said.

Ashton Kennison capped the five-run third when he scored on a single by Dieterich.

“I don’t like the way we bounced back mentally from that,” LeBlanc said.

Skowhegan pitcher Colby Miller gives Oxford Hills baserunner Cam Slicer a look during Thursday’s Class A North baseball quarterfinal in Paris.. Brewster Burns

The Vikings added another run in the fifth when they drew four walks off Skowhegan reliever Colby Miller.

“That’s been our season,” LeBlanc said. “All year, we’ve compounded our problems with walks.”

Luksza capped the scoring in the sixth when he doubled home Cam Slicer to make Oxford Hills’ lead 7-0.

“It was huge, just going out and dominating the game, really,” Shane Slicer said. “That gets us in the right frame of mind, moving forward.

“They have a goal, and they’re not going to accept anything but winning it.”

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