ORONO, Maine — When Cody Cross belted the first pitch of the Old Town baseball team’s season over the center-field fence 370 feet from home plate, little did the Coyotes know that was the only run they needed.
For there was much, much more to come.
Casey Estes pitched a four-hit shutout and went 3-for-5 at the plate, and Shane Nadeau drove in three runs from the No. 9 spot in the batting order as Old Town cruised to a 14-0 five-inning victory over Orono.
“It [Cross’ home run] set the tone for the whole game,” said Estes, a junior righthander. “It was awesome, we just got so much more pumped up after that.”
The game was supposed to be the Coyotes’ home opener but was moved to Orono due to wet field conditions in Old Town.
That just enabled Cross to make his season debut at the plate in the top of the first rather than the bottom of the inning, and when he got a first-pitch fastball from Orono righthander Phil Benoit he wasted even less time in giving Old Town a 1-0 lead.
“It came right down the middle, right below the belt,” said Cross, a left-handed batter who starts at catcher for coach Dave Utterback’s club. “I saw it well and it felt good off the bat.”
Class B Old Town added a second run in the inning as Estes hit a one-out double to right-center, went to third on a ground out and scored on a passed ball.
Old Town made it 3-0 in the second. Nadeau led off with a double to left and scored on Estes’ two-out ground single to left — on the next pitch after a foul popup fell harmlessly just outside the third-base line 30 feet from home plate within reach of three Orono fielders.
Nadeau popped a two-out, two-run single to center in the third to extend the Coyotes’ lead to 6-0 before Old Town broke the game open with five runs on just one hit in the top of the fourth.
Estes opened the inning with a ground single to left, and the Coyotes subsequently capitalized on five walks, a balk, a wild pitch and an Orono error to push their lead to 11-0.
Estes, meanwhile, shook off some lengthy stays on the bench during Old Town rallies to shut down Orono’s offense on just 69 pitches.
He relied on a biting breaking pitch to strike out six batters while walking two, and he preserved his shutout by twice getting out of innings unscathed after Orono advanced a runner to third base.
“When I was throwing in pre-game I felt really good about today,” said Estes, “and the curve ball I threw first pitch every single time. I just relied on that. When my fastball didn’t work I just threw the curve ball over.”
Shortstop Jake Stoddard had Orono’s only extra-base hit, a one-out triple to center in the fourth. He was stranded there, however, as Estes sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a two-out walk to Cam Dwyer.