EAST MACHIAS, Maine — Early season baseball games often are decided by which team makes the fewest mistakes.
The Calais Blue Devils combined a nearly flawless defense with a 12-hit attack to open their 2010 season with a 10-7 victory over Washington Academy in a battle of Class C rivals Friday afternoon.
Calais never trailed in the contest, but didn’t take the lead for good until sophomore second baseman Jesse Clark grounded an opposite-field single to right off WA lefthander Tim Sawyer that drove home Adam Geel with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 7-7 tie.
“It was an outside fastball, maybe a slider, and I just went with it,” said Clark. “I’m not a pull hitter, I just swing at whatever comes my way.”
Jeremy Carr added a one-out solo homer to center in the top of the seventh, and Calais added another insurance run in the inning when Jeremy Beers walked, stole second and scored on Geel’s ground single through the shortstop hole.
Righthander Josh Gillespie, one of just three seniors on the Calais roster, then struck out the side around a two-out single by Tyler Varney in the bottom of the inning to complete a three-inning relief stint and earn the victory.
“I was a little rusty coming out at the start,” said Gillespie, who yielded four runs in the bottom of the fifth after taking Geel’s place on the mound. “I settled in a little after the first inning and got a little better.”
Geel left with a 7-3 lead after yielding just two earned runs on four hits over the first four innings.
“Adam was going to pitch 80 pitches, and then I brought in Josh to close the door,” said Calais coach Ken Murphy. “Josh struggled at first, but he hadn’t pitched because he’d been in Mexico for a week and has only been back for four days. Eventually he settled down.”
While Calais committed just one error, Washington Academy was hampered by three errors and a pair of errant cutoff throws that enabled Blue Devil baserunners to advance into scoring position.
“But I’ve got to give Calais credit,” said WA coach Blaine Steeves. “They hit the ball, and they fielded the ball particularly well and did not throw the ball around. Where we had a few times when we threw the ball in and missed the cutoff and they took the extra base, they did not do that at all.”
Gillespie paced the Calais offense with a double, two singles and two RBIs, while Carr, Geel, Clark and Dylan Carter each had two hits and Beers scored three runs and stole two bases.
“The guys showed a lot of heart, they just wouldn’t quit,” said Calais assistant coach Scott Geel. “They wanted this game, and every time WA made a rally we answered. That was a big thing.”
Run-scoring singles by Dylan Ramsdell and Carter with two out in the first gave Calais a 2-0 lead, but WA got a run back in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded forceout by Ryan Schoppee — the first of his five RBIs in the game.
Calais made it 3-1 in the second as No. 9 hitter Nat Pike walked, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout by Carr before scoring on the second wild pitch of the inning by WA starter Toby Woods.
Schoppee hit a two-out, two-run single to the base of the fence in left-center to drive home Woods and Bryce Colbeth and tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the third.
Calais then took its largest lead with a four-run fourth that drove Woods from the mound. Gillespie had a two-run double to right to highlight the uprising, while Carter flared an RBI single to right as the Blue Devils capitalized on three hits, a walk, a hit batsman and a WA error.
But Washington Academy greeted Gillespie’s appearance on the mound with a four-run rally of its own in the bottom of the fifth. Schoppee hit another two-run double and scored on Ryan Sprague’s double to left to help the Raiders re-tie the contest.
Schoppee led WA’s nine-hit attack with his two doubles, while catcher Mike Lenfestey singled twice, Woods scored three runs and Colbeth reached base in all four of his plate appearances.