Waynflete baseball gets pivotal win over Traip
PORTLAND—Entering the pivotal final phase of its season, the Waynflete baseball team knew Monday's home battle with Western C rival Traip Acadey was a must-win affair.
While the Flyers faced some adversity over 140 minutes and seven innings, they made enough plays in the field and at the plate to get the job done.
Junior starting pitcher Joey Schnier wasn't overpowering, but was bailed out on several occasions by his fielders, including catcher Luke Jeton, who twice threw to Schnier to nail a runner at the plate, senior shortstop Andrew Butler, who made a couple of highlight reel plays on ground balls, and junior centerfielder Nik Morrill, who made a timely sliding catch.
Morrill also drove in three runs and pitched the final two innings, freshman first baseman Tom Silk had a clutch two-run hit and Waynflete went on to an 8-3 victory, improving to 7-4, dropping the Rangers to 4-10 in the process.
"When we hit the ball and make our plays, we're a very good baseball team," Morrill said.
Waynflete has been very competitive all season. After opening with a 12-3 loss at Old Orchard Beach, the Flyers handled visiting Sacopee (13-7), Greater Portland Christian School (12-1, in five innings), GPCS again (16-0, in five innings) and Old Orchard Beach (10-3). Following a 6-1 triumph at OOB, Waynflete fell at home to Western B contender Gray-New Gloucester, 12-7. The Flyers beat Traip in Kittery in the teams' first meeting, 16-6, then suffered an 8-4 home loss to Sacopee Wednesday.
"The loss to Sacopee was tough," Jeton said. "They had a comeback and hit a couple home runs."
The Flyers then fell, 13-3 (in five innings), at Western B power Greely Friday. That loss actually gave Waynflete confidence, as it led the mighty Rangers, 3-2, heading for the bottom of the fourth inning.
"We had a fantastic game for us against Greely," Jeton said.
"We hung with Greely for four innings," Morrill said. That felt really good."
Traip entered the game 4-9 after eking out an 11-10 decision at Sacopee Saturday.
Monday, the Flyers escaped trouble to start the game and quickly built a lead.
The Rangers' leadoff hitter, centerfielder Brandon Metevier, singled to right and stole second. He moved to third on a ground ball and appeared primed to score when a Schnier pitch got away, but Jeton pounced on the ball at the backstop and threw to Schnier, who applied the tag on Metevier at the plate just in time for the second out.
"At first, you're kind of like, 'Oh, shoot," because it hits the tip of the glove typically and gets past you," Jeton said. "I had to relax, hit my knees and throw it back and hopefully get him."
Catcher Christian Montembeau was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. First baseman Josh Schneier then hit a ground ball to Butler, who couldn't handle it, putting runners at the corners. Butler quickly atoned, however, as after Schneier stole second, pitcher Danny Eddy hit a ground ball to the hole, where Butler went to his right to field it and fire a throw across the diamond just in time for the inning-ending out.
"Andrew has such a good arm," said Waynflete coach Steve Kautz. "I didn't think he'd get to that one. He knows he can go in the hole. He has confidence in a freshman at first base. He makes that play as well as anybody. He's strong and his strides are long."
In the bottom half, junior second baseman Isaac Scher struck out looking and Schnier flew out deep to center, but Butler started a rally with a walk, stole second and after Jeton walked, Butler went to third on a wild pitch. Jeton stole second and Morrill was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A ground ball off the bat of senior designated hitter Ryan Carr appeared to end the inning, but Traip second baseman Evan Periera couldn't handle a throw from shortstop Jonathan Davis, allowing Butler to score, reloading the bases. Silk then delivered a singled to left-center and Jeton and Morrill scored for a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Schnier worked around a one-out single to retire the side.
In the bottom half, Waynflete made it 4-0. Junior leftfielder Matt Jarrell led off with a single to right and went to second on an infield hit by Scher. After Schnier and Butler struck out looking, Jeton walked and Morrill also drew a walk to force home the run.
In the third, Davis walked with one out, was wild pitched to second and Montembeau also walked. Schnier battled back by getting Schneier to ground back to the mound before getting Eddy looking at strike three.
Eddy struck out the side in the bottom of the thrid and Schnier again found himself in trouble in the fourth, but was able to escape.
Periera led off with a single to left and was sacrificed to second. After rightfielder Henry Driscoll blooped a single to left (Periera had to hold at second), Schnier got leftfielder Johnny Guy to pop out to Scher and struck out Metevier to keep the Rangers scoreless.
The Flyers added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth.
With one down, Schnier hit a sinking liner that went off the glove of Metevier for a single Schnier stole second and Butler was hit by a pitch. Jeton flew out to center, moving Schnier to third. Butler stole second and Morrill delivered the key hit, singling to left, scoring both runners for a 6-0 advantage.
"I was trying to get a fastball and hit it hard somewhere," Morrill said. "I took too many pitches earlier and was just trying to see one and hit one."
Traip finally got to Schnier in the fifth.
Davis got a rally started by beating out an infield single. Montembeau then ripped a double to the fence in deep center, putting runners at second and third. Schneier singled to center to bring home Davis with the first run and a ground ball by Eddy got by freshman third baseman Ben Freedman for an error, plating Montembeau. The runners stole their way to second and third and after Schnier fanned Periera, third baseman Nick Foye laid down a bunt single which scored the third run.
A wild pitch should have made it 6-4, but again Jeton came up huge, getting to the loose baseball and throwing to Schnier, who tagged Eddy for the second out.
"No one has worked harder (than Luke) to become a varsity catcher," Kautz said. "He works with (assistant coach Zak Starr) every day on blocking balls. You saw it today. He did everything he had to do."
Foye took second and was primed to score when Driscoll hit a sinking liner to center, but out of nowhere raced Morrill to make a sliding catch to end the inning and keep the score 6-3.
"I like to be in the middle of it," Morrill said. "Playing hard is fun. My mentality in the outfield is to never give up on a ball. If I see it, I run hard and keep going."
"What a great play from Nik," Kautz said. "That was possibly a game-saver."
The Flyers promptly got two runs back in their half of the inning.
Jarrell grounded a one-out single to left and after Scher was hit by a pitch, Schnier grounded a single over third base, scoring Jarrell for a 7-3 lead. A wild pitch moved the runners up and Butler appeared to strike out, but strike three got away and Butler reached first base safely to load the bags for Jeton, who hit into a second-to-short force out to score Scher for an 8-3 lead.
Schnier gave way to Morrill for the sixth and after giving up a single to leftfielder Johnny Guy on the first pitch, Morrill got out of trouble, as Metevier sacrificed into an out, Guy tried to steal third on a low pitch, but was gunned down by Jeton, and Davis struck out.
Leading off the bottom half, Carr was hit on the back of the helmet by an Eddy off-speed pitch. Play was stopped for several minutes, but Carr left under his own power. Waynflete eventually put two runners on, but couldn't score and it was on to the seventh.
There, Morrill wasted no time ending it.
Leading off, Montembeau flew deep to left, but Jarrell made the catch. After Schneier struck out looking, Eddy hit another ball deep into the hole, but as he did in the first inning, Butler ranged to his right, set himself and made a stellar throw to Silk to end it.
Waynflete 8 Traip 3.
"This was key," Jeton said. "This was a big game. To go up in the first inning felt really good. We have to focus on making the plays we need to make. Today was a great example of people stepping up. Everyone picked each other up."
The Waynflete offense featured two hits apiece from Jarrell and Schnier, three RBI from Morrill, two from Silk and one apiece from Jeton and Schnier. Butler and Jarrell both scored twice, while Jeton, Morrill, Scher and Schnier each touched home plate once.
"We got a few hits with men on base," Kautz said.
Butler and Jeton each stole two bases, while Carr, Morrill and Schnier had one each.
Schnier earned the win after giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out five, threw a wild pitch and hit one batter.
"The thing about Joe is that his control is so good that even if he doesn't have a perfect day, he'll still pitch a great game," Jeton said.
"Joey toughed it out," Kautz said. "He did what he had to. He didn't have all his pitches working, but he wanted it badly. He gave us exactly what we needed."
Morrill closed it out by allowing just one hit in two scoreless innings. Morrill fanned two.
"I've mostly started this year, but I'm always ready to pitch," Morrill said. "Relieving is more fun."
"When Nik comes in, I know we can go fastball, curve and they're not going to hit it," Jeton said.
"(Nik) had a two-out, two-RBI single, that catch in center and came in and shut it down," Kautz added. "He's really come on."
Traip got two hits from Foye. Davis, Montembeau (who had the game's lone extra base hit) and Schneier scored runs. Eddy, Foye and Schneier had RBI. Schneier stole two bases, while Eddy, Foye and Montembeau each stole one bag.
Eddy took the loss after giving up eight runs (five earned) on seven hits. He struck out 11, but walked five, threw four wild pitches and hit five batters.
"It wasn't a thing of beauty, but it's difficult to dig in when a pitcher's that wild," Kautz said. "Last week, in one inning, he hit four of us. That makes for a choppy game. He gutted it out. I was impressed he went the whole way."
Waynflete has two key road tests coming up this week, at Fryeburg (a Western B team) Wednesday and at Sacopee Friday. The Flyers close the regular season at home versus Traip Wednesday of next week.
Waynflete still has lots of work to do, but like its chances.
"We have a shot, certainly at regionals and maybe we can push it to states," Jeton said.
"We want to win them all," Kautz said. "We know we'll never get a high seed the way things are structured. We want to be at home that first round. We want to be playing well. We hung with Gray and we hung with Greely for four innings. We know we can beat the other teams. Conference games are always close. We have to be ready. We need more (wins). If (the guys) believe in themselves and don't try to do too much, they can get it done."