BANGOR, Maine — Foxcroft Academy’s afternoon on the basepaths began in ignominy — with the Ponies running into a triple play during the first inning of Thursday’s Class B baseball game against John Bapst of Bangor.
But some alert baserunning much later in the game by senior catcher Josh Conroy set up the game-winning run as Foxcroft edged the previously undefeated Crusaders 2-1 at Mansfield Stadium.
Conroy led off the top of the sixth inning of a 1-1 game with a single to right field.
Robbie Harmon then bunted a 1-0 pitch back to the mound, and as Conroy rounded second base he saw third base uncovered — so he kept going.
“I saw the third baseman charging hard like he should, but he just didn’t get back in time and I took advantage of it and got to third,” said Conroy.
“I knew it was a sacrifice bunt and naturally the third baseman might even field the ball, so you’ve got to be picking that up as you round second, to see if the third baseman was charging or not.”
Conroy scored on Josiah Richard’s groundout to the shortstop hole, giving coach Bill Kane’s club its first lead en route to the most satisfying win of Foxcroft’s 5-2 start this spring.
“We were looking forward to this today, and talking about how big a win this could be for us down the road,” said Foxcroft junior righthander Ian Champeon, who allowed six hits and one earned run over six innings to get the pitching win. “We’re really happy to come away with this win.”
Champeon struck out five batters and walked two before giving way to reliever Mitchell Fadley, who stranded the tying run at third in the seventh.
“I was just trying to mix it up with each batter so they couldn’t get up to the plate and always think ‘he’s coming with a fastball first pitch,’” said Champeon. “I mixed in a few curveballs, changeups and two-seam [fastballs] to try to make them think more than they should, and then just pounded the corners.”
Foxcroft needed effective pitching to offset John Bapst righthander Jason McBurnie, who allowed five hits and two earned runs while working into the seventh inning.
McBurnie escaped a jam in the top of the first after Foxcroft put runners on first and second with no one out on two John Bapst infield errors.
Champeon then hit a sharp grounder to John Bapst third baseman Ryan Carr, who stepped on the bag for one out and threw to first for the second out. Richard, who was running from first base on the play, slipped as he reached second and subsequently was trapped in a rundown to complete the triple play.
John Bapst (4-1) took a 1-0 lead in the third when Carr hit a leadoff triple to straightaway center and scored on Casey Hull’s sacrifice fly to center.
Kio Mikame led off the Foxcroft fifth with a single to left — the Ponies’ first hit — and pinch-runner Justin Rice then went to third on Ryan Olmsted’s single to right before scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Tony Gabarro.
Carr singled to open the John Bapst seventh, then went to second on a sacrifice by Hull and to third on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there as Fadley struck out Miles Gagnon and got Nick Pooler to ground out to end the game.