OAKLAND – When Grady Hotham is on the mound, Erskine baseball coach Colby Foster doesn’t worry too much.

Hotham, a junior, has been a reliable arm for Erskine Academy since his first varsity season last year. So, when the Palermo pitcher found himself in jams during a 5-4 victory Monday against Messalonskee, Foster had full confidence in his ace.

“Anytime Grady’s out there, you know we’re going to be in it,” Foster said. “You can rely on him. You know he’s going to settle in and get it done.”

There were, perhaps expectedly, some challenging moments against a team that posed the biggest offensive threat Erskine had seen thus far in the early stages of the 2022 season. Yet Hotham saw through them, and, in doing so, saw his team through to a statement victory.

Hotham powered through the late innings, pitching flawless fourth, fifth and sixth innings before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to hand Messalonskee — which had been red-hot at the plate — its first loss.

Erskine (4-1) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning as a Hotham sacrifice plated a pair following base hits from Sam Boynton and Liam Perfetto. Messalonskee would pull ahead 3-2 in the second following four singles and a series of Erskine errors.


Erskine took a 5-3 lead in the third following base hits from Hunter Foard and Isaac Hayden, coupled with a pair of Messalonskee defensive lapses. The visitors’ lead was then cut to 5-4 on an RBI single from Brady Bumford. Then, both pitchers, Erskine’s Hotham and Messalonskee’s Ryan Wright, found their respective grooves.

“They were on my fastball, so in the fourth inning, I changed my approach and started to mix it up,” Hotham said. “They were on my fastball, so I started to go to my offspeed. I feel like when I’m 0-2 and can get to my offspeed, it’s really unhittable, and it was working for me today.”

Erskine baserunner Grady Hotham, right, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run during a game against Messalonskee on Monday in Oakland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Jacob Love relieved Wright for Messalonskee (4-1) in the top of the sixth, but Hotham kept going for Erskine. He struck out the side in the sixth inning, and after a pair of flyouts to begin the bottom of the seventh, Hotham was just one batter away from retiring 13 straight to end the game.

Instead, Messalonskee loaded the bases with Mitch Grant singling up the middle, Jacob Thomas singling to left and Brendan Roderick being intentionally walked. Yet on a 3-2 count, Hotham battled through the pressure as he forced a soft ground ball from Love that made for an easy final out.

“We’ve gotten used to being in some tight games, so I knew we could bunker down when we needed to, and I trusted my defense,” Hotham said. “That’s really the first time we’ve been put in that situation, so it was really cool to see us come together and finish the game against a great team.”

Hotham finished with nine strikeouts and two RBIs and one run scored at the plate for Erskine, which also got two hits and an RBI from Isaac Hayden and a hit and two runs scored from Perfetto. Love struck out seven batters and knocked a base hit for Messalonskee. Grant added two base hits and a run scored.

Messalonskee shortstop Mitchell Grant leaps to receive a throw from pitcher Ryan White on a pickoff attempt at second base during a game against Erskine on Monday in Oakland. Umpires called a balk on the play and awarded third base to Erskine baserunner Grady Hotham, pictured behind Mitchell. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Erskine, as Hotham noted, has become used to playing in some tight games this year. The win marked the third straight one-run ballgame for the club.

“We’re a young team, and it really feels good to get this one under our belts,” Foster said. “Messalonskee is a great team, and they’re going to be a contender this year. We knew they were going to put the bat on the ball, but we limited our mistakes, and like I said, you feel good whenever Grady’s on the mound.”

Added Messalonskee head coach Eric Palin: “We stayed in and battled, but we just couldn’t get that big hit late when we needed it. We also didn’t play defense the way we should and normally do, but we’re a good team, and we’ll move on and bounce back.”

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