BREWER, Maine — Two up, two down could have signaled the gist of a nonproductive fifth inning for the Brewer baseball team Monday afternoon.
But nine batters later, nonproductive had evolved into a seven-run rally that broke the game open as the defending Eastern Maine Class A champions pulled away from Oxford Hills of South Paris 8-1 at Heddericg Field.
The win was the fourth straight for 6-1 Brewer, which will complete the first half of its schedule Tuesday with a makeup game at Lawrence of Fairfield.
“We’ve got some good leadership, and I think the kids are seeing what this whole thing is all about,” said Brewer coach Dave Morris. “They’re getting to know each other better, and they’re playing well. When you get in a tight game like this, there’s not a panic, but at the same time when we see some success, there’s some humble pie there, too.”
“But it’s baseball, so hopefully we can keep it up.”
Pat McEwen (3-0) pitched a two-hitter, yielding just a leadoff double in the first inning and a third-inning single by Oxford Hills star Matt Verrier.
“Pat was throwing his curveball very good and was hitting his spots,” said Brewer catcher Andy Bush. “He did a great job today.”
McEwen struck out five and walked three, including two in the third inning when the righthander faced his only jam.
Tucker Hill and Kyle Farrar opened the inning with walks, and Verrier singled up the middle to load the bases with no one out.
Cody Hadley hit a sacrifice fly to right to drive home Hill with the tying run, but McEwen then got Nate Dubois on a comebacker to the mound and Andrew Kenniston on a flyout to center field to escape the inning with minimal damage.
“Pat’s been working on mound composure, and he’s developed a really good sense of that,” said Morris. “When you come out and walk the first two guys in an inning, some guys tend to get rattled or give up that big hit. The Verrier kid did a great job of hitting a curveball up the middle, but after that Pat shut them down, and he got stronger from that point on.”
Dubois, the Oxford Hills starter, similarly gained momentum as the game reached the fifth inning, when he retired Chase Daniels on a fly to right and Eric White on a line-drive to shortstop.
But Billy Bissell singled to center, stole second and scored the go-ahead when Bush guided a 2-2 pitch into center field for an RBI single.
“He got me to two strikes and I figured he was going to throw me a curveball so I sat back on it,” said Bush. “I kind of reached out for it, but I got it over the shortstop’s head.”
Kyle O’Connell walked and Matt Helfen hit an RBI single to make it 3-1, and O’Connell then scored as Jordan Richards’ infield grounder was misplayed.
Coby Hutchins, who had doubled home Brewer’s first run in the bottom of the second, blooped another RBI double to right, and Brandon Gendreau singled home another run. Daniels capped off the rally with a two-run double to right-center — and suddenly the Witches had a seven-run lead.
“I think with a good hitting team like they have, they got to see [Dubois] for the third time and that was it,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer. “He pitched great up until that time and got out of some jams. But we had a timely error that kept the inning alive, and I think we just gave them too many opportunities.”