BANGOR, Maine — Josh Gillespie admittedly had mixed success with his curveball Thursday evening, but the unpredictability of that pitch was one of his biggest weapons in leading Calais to a 3-2 American Legion Zone 1 baseball victory over Motor City at the Winkin Baseball Complex.
Gillespie, a righthander who will be a junior at Calais High School in the fall, pitched a complete-game five-hitter, striking out 10 batters and walking three.
He struck out at least one batter in each inning and had the Motor City batters guessing throughout — five of his strikeouts came on called third strikes.
“My curveball wasn’t working, I threw it behind a couple of guys, but my fastball was working pretty good, my slider was working all right, too,” said Gillespie, now 2-0 on the summer for the 2-6 Suns. “A couple of times the curveball slipped, but I gripped it harder and threw it a little softer and it kept dropping into the zone.”
Gillespie yielded just two hits over the final five innings in outdueling Motor City righthander Jared Theriault, who scattered seven hits and three earned runs in his first start of the summer before giving way to reliever Chris Hammond in the seventh.
He also was effective at short-circuiting potential Motor City rallies. The Bangor team stranded seven baserunners, six in scoring position.
“Josh has won both of our games this year, and he’s had three very good starts,” said Calais shortstop Bryce Colbeth. “He keeps us in the games because he doesn’t walk many guys. He keeps the ball in play, and keeps us going.”
Gillespie was aided by a big defensive play in the bottom of the second inning that prevented Motor City from taking early control.
After Aaron Healey reached on a fielder’s choice and Jon Johnson was hit by a pitch, Ryan Carr hit a blast to center field that went just beyond the reach of Calais outfielder Dylan Ramsdell and bounded all the way to the fence.
Healey and Johnson scored to give Motor City a 2-1 lead, but Ramsdell retrieved the ball and fired it in to second baseman Tim Barnes, whose perfect relay throw home enabled Calais catcher Mike Kennedy to tag out Carr to foil his bid for an inside-the-park home run.
“I saw that [Ramsdell] threw it over Bryce’s head to me,” said Barnes, who caught the throw in shallow center field, “and I heard them say ‘Go home, go home,’ so I just tried to get the ball out of my glove as quick as I could. I saw the runner was about halfway there, so I threw it as hard as I could.”
Barnes scored the tying run in the top of the third, hitting an opposite-field triple to left and then beating a strong throw home from Healey in left field to score on a sacrifice fly by Adam Geel.
Barnes’ next at-bat led to the winning run. The Shead High School of Eastport product singled to center to open the Calais fifth, went to second on a single up the middle by Geel and to third on a flyout by Tom Pottle before scoring a sharp single to left by Gillespie.
“Tonight was probably one of my best nights hitting,” said Barnes, the Suns’ lone repeat hitter.
Motor City (3-5) threatened in the fifth when Chris Potter reached on an infield chopper, stole second and went to third on a throwing error with one out. But Gillespie struck out the next two batters looking to keep the tying run from scoring.
Carr hit a leadoff single for Motor City in the bottom of the seventh, stole second base immediately and then stole third with one out.
Again Gillespie got tough, striking out Potter and getting Nick Smith on a come-backer to the mound to end the game.
Calais took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Colbeth rocked a leadoff triple to right-center and scored on the next pitch when Kennedy doubled to left.
But Theriault limited the damage, retiring the next three batters to strand Kennedy on third base.