AUGUSTA — In the blink of an eye, a subpar offensive performance from the Messalonskee baseball team became an explosive one.

Seven hits, four for extra bases; three walks; two critical Cony errors. The 10-run fifth inning Tuesday turned a four-run deficit into a six-run lead for the Eagles, who topped the Rams 14-6 in a season-opening showdown at Morton Field.

“To come back and win big like that, it feels pretty good,” said Messalonskee senior Garrett Card. “We made some mistakes early — I had some errors — but we didn’t let it get to us or get our heads down. We just stuck with it, and once we got going, it all worked out for us.”

Nine different players recorded hits for Messalonskee, which totaled 13 as a team. Card had three hits and three runs scored, with Cash Bizier (two hits, two RBIs, four runs scored) and Ty Bernier (two hits, two runs) also notching multi-hit games.

The game couldn’t have started much better for Cony (0-1), which scored the game’s first two runs on an error in the first inning. The Rams then finagled two hits and a Messalonskee error in the second into three more runs before adding another in the third to take a 6-0 lead.

Messalonskee, playing as the home team with its own field unplayable, finally answered in the third as hits by Ethan Mayo and Card led to runs. That put the Eagles within a crooked number of making it a game against the Rams, whose bats went silent after the hot start.


“Even when we were down 6-0, we had five- or six-pitch as-bats; our guys were making them throw,” said Messalonskee head coach Eric Palin. “We wanted to get (Cony starting pitcher Max Tibbetts) out of the game into their second, third and fourth pitchers, and we were able to do that.”

Indeed, the Rams pulled Tibbetts after Messalonskee started to get to him with those two runs in the top of the fourth — and then, just as Palin hoped, the Eagles feasted on Cony’s relievers.

Smacking four base hits against the Rams’ Anderson Noyes, Messalonskee cut the deficit to 6-5 with just one out in the inning. The Eagles did even more damage against Parker Morin, whom they tagged for six earned runs to take an 11-6 lead. They added one more run in the fifth via a bases-loaded walk before scoring two runs in the sixth.

“Confidence builds when you see the guy in front of you have success, and I think that’s a lot of what happened, but also, we haven’t seen a ton of live pitching here in the preseason,” Palin said. “I think (that was part of it), and when we started getting to the second and third times through our lineup, our guys’ confidence grew.”

Sean Achorn (2 2/3 innings pitched, no hits allowed, five strikeouts) earned the win for Messalonskee. It was a memorable first high school game for the freshman, who was nearly flawless after relieving starter Donovan Hermann (4 1/3 innings pitched, three strikeouts, four walks, four earned runs) in the fifth. 


Cony’s Jordan Benedict hits a pitch against Messalonskee during a baseball game Wednesday at Morton Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I kept getting them with my fastball right down the middle,” Achorn said. “I was just hitting my spots out there. For (my first varsity game), I’d say it was definitely pretty great.”

Tibbetts had four strikeouts, four walks and no earned runs in three innings for Cony, which saw Morin (six hits, six earned runs) tagged with the loss. Jordan Benedict had two hits and a run scored for the Rams, while Noyes and Austin Theriault each had a hit, a run and an RBI.

Just as Messalonskee improved at the plate and on the mound as the game went on, the Eagles also got better in the field. After the two early errors led to unearned runs for the Rams, the “home” team didn’t commit another one the rest of the way to earn a key win over a Cony team coming off a 16-2 season.

“We knew those physical errors would come, but we hoped there wouldn’t be any mental errors,” Palin said. “Mental errors, you can prepare for, but physical errors, those come with practice and being outside, so I’m not going to get too worried (about that). … I’m proud of the guys.”

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