BUCKSPORT, Maine — Five runs in three games last week left the Bucksport baseball team a frustrated offensive unit — but only temporarily.
The Golden Bucks returned from the Memorial Day weekend reinvigorated, pounding out 16 hits during a 9-6 victory over John Bapst of Bangor on Tuesday in a battle of two of the top teams in Eastern Maine Class B.
Eight of those hits came virtually all at once, during a six-run second-inning rally that gave coach Mike Cowing’s club the lead for good en route to its second win over John Bapst in five days.
“We were hitting the ball early in the year but we’d been struggling as of late so we took a couple of practices and really focused on hitting,” said senior shortstop Steve Klenowski. “Sometimes it takes a while for it to get going, but I think it’s finally starting to come back to where it was at the beginning of the season.”
Bucksport (10-4) had suffered a 1-0 loss at Ellsworth and a 2-1 loss to Mount Desert Island before edging John Bapst 4-3 in eight innings last Friday.
That win provided a sign of things to come, as the Golden Bucks were able to manage nine hits off talented Bapst sophomore Chris Hammond.
“We hit the ball a little better the other night against a very good pitcher, and it just kind of carried over,” said Cowing. “If you can get a couple of hits at the beginning, I guess it becomes contagious. It’s hard to explain.”
John Bapst (8-4-1) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second before Bucksport erupted in the bottom of the inning.
The rally began modestly, with a pop single to left by Cam Wentworth and a ground single to left by Ryan Bailey before Cody Farrell beat out what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt.
John Bapst starter Jason McBurnie retired the next batter before the top of the Bucksport batting order turned aggressive.
Kyle McGeechan hit the first pitch he saw for an RBI single to tie the game, then winning pitcher Tyler French doubled home two runs on the next pitch before Klenowski doubled off the top of the center-field fence on an 0-1 pitch to deliver two more runs.
Cleanup hitter Jordan Trasko capped off the uprising on the very next pitch, hitting an RBI single to right center to give the Bucks a 6-1 lead.
Five pitches. Four hits. Six runs.
“They were throwing first-pitch fastballs,” said McGeechan, “and they were right in the zone so we were just jumping on them.”
John Bapst scored a run in the third to close within 6-2, then scored twice in the fourth — one on an RBI single by Matt Duplisea — before Klenowski and second baseman Farrell turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Bucksport scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning to extend its lead to 7-4, but Nick Pooler’s two-run homer in the top of the sixth pulled John Bapst within a run.
The Golden Bucks scored two insurance runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Tim Nason hit a leadoff single, went to second on a balk and scored on a two-out infield error that allowed Farrell to reach base.
Pinch-hitter Mike Bridges reached on an infield hit before McGeechan singled home Farrell to restore Bucksport to a three-run lead.
“This is big in the standings for us because they’re a great ball team and to beat them definitely helps us out a lot,” said Klenowski. “And coming this close to playoffs, to see the better teams and especially that type of pitching is just getting us ready.”
McGeechan finished with three singles for Bucksport, while Trasko, Nason, Wentworth and Ray Wood each singled twice.
Ryan Carr reached base four times for John Bapst with two singles and two walks, while Pooler homered and singled and Duplisea and Casey Hull each singled twice.