EAST MACHIAS, Maine — Toby Woods is used to starting games on the mound for the Washington Academy baseball team.
But the sophomore lefthander experienced a new way to finish Saturday while leading the Raiders to an 8-5 victory over Lee Academy.
Woods pitched the first three innings while WA built a 7-1 lead, then shifted to first base before returning to the mound in the sixth to quell a Lee rally.
“That’s something I’ve never done before,” said Woods. “It’s kind of a weird mentality because when you’re pitching you’re so focused, and once it’s over you kind of take a deep breath and you move on.
“And then when you have to step back in there it’s a challenge but I was able to focus and bear down and get some guys out at the end.”
Woods pitched 4ª innings in his two stints, allowing one run on two hits while striking out 11 and walking three.
“It’s good to see that my stuff was getting people to miss like that,” he said. “I’ve got to work off my fastball, but it’s not a blow-you-away fastball so I’ve got to come with the curveball and changeup, too.”
The 6-foot-4 Woods threw 77 pitches, keeping the Pandas off balance by changing speeds and working the outside corner of the plate.
“When Toby’s throwing all three of his pitches for strikes he’s one of the toughest pitchers in Eastern Maine as far as I’m concerned,” said WA catcher Mike Lenfestey. “He’s so tall, and when he spots his fastball with good movement and then works in his breaking pitches, he’s so tough to hit.”
WA’s first six batters reached base against Lee starter A.J. Harris, sparking a five-run first-inning rally that featured a two-run double by Ryan Sprague and RBI singles by Woods and Bryce Colbeth.
The Raiders (1-1) added two runs in the second as Lenfestey and Colbeth — both hit by pitches — scored on back-to-back singles by Sprague and Tim Sawyer.
But Lee reliever Dustin Sawtelle came on to limit WA to just one unearned run on one hit over the final four innings, providing his Pandas a chance to come back.
Lee (0-1) got a run in the third when Harris hit a two-out single and scored on David Cropley’s double to deep center.
Woods was replaced on the mound in the fourth by Sawyer, and Sawyer cruised through the middle innings before his defense let him down in the sixth.
Washington Academy, which had played errorless defense to that point, committed three errors on its first four chances of the inning, fueling a four-run Lee rally that drew the Pandas within 7-5.
A two-run single to center by Tyler Kuester pulled Lee within two runs, and that prompted WA coach Blaine Steeves to bring Woods back to the mound.
A fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Woods struck out Lee’s No. 3 hitter, Ryan Beers, with a sweeping curveball to end the inning.
“We’re fairly young, and we’ve got guys all moved around right now and it’s going to take us a few games to jell,” said Lee coach Randy Harris. “This is probably not the ideal opening game for us against a team that’s considered one of the favorites in Class C, but we’ll be better.”