HERMON, Maine — For much of Wednesday afternoon, Jesse Graffam had to be content with making the defensive play of Hermon’s baseball game against Ellsworth — a diving catch in center field to rob John Carlin of extra bases.
But given a final chance to atone for a hitless day at the plate Graffam delivered in dramatic fashion, ripping a single down the left-field line to drive home Logan Trembley with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and give the Hawks a come-from-behind 7-6 victory.
Hermon (1-1) never led until the game’s final play, and had rallied from a 6-1 deficit with five runs in the sixth inning.
But after a season-opening 6-5 loss at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln on Saturday when the Hawks gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh, this was the sort of response the youthful Hawks — whose roster sports just three seniors — needed to set their season in a positive direction.
“After the loss up to Lincoln, the kids got on the bus and they felt hurt because they wanted that game so badly,” said Hermon coach Doug McGinley. “To come back from that and come out here and come back from 6-1 down just showed how tough these kids are.
“They’re battlers, every one of them.”
Logan Trembley opened the Hermon eighth with a walk, and No. 9 hitter Reid McGinley then put down a sacrifice bunt to move Trembley into scoring position.
After Tyler Fournier popped out to third base in foul territory, Graffam came to the plate armed with the knowledge that if he didn’t deliver the game likely would end in a tie as darkness had already descended on the Hermon field.
But Graffam saw a 1-0 fastball as plain as if playing on sun-splashed day, and he smashed it just beyond the reach of diving Ellsworth third baseman Seth Cote and into left field to drive home Trembley from second base.
“I was 0-for-4 until that last at-bat so I knew I needed to hit it when the time came, and I pulled through when we needed it,” said Graffam. “It was a fastball. I hit it pretty solid.”
Trembley, a sophomore righthander, earned the pitching victory with three innings of two-hit relief. Trembley allowed just one unearned run while striking out two and walking one.
Freshman Will Perkins paced Hermon’s nine-hit attack with a triple and two singles, while senior Brad McCluskey doubled, singled and walked in four plate appearances.
Cote had three singles and three RBIs for 1-1 Ellsworth, while Ross Saunders doubled and single and Hodge and Cote Card each singled twice.
Ellsworth reached .Hermon starter Greg Hamlin for two runs in the first, with Saunders delivering an RBI double and scoring on Cote’s two-out single to center.
The Eagles made it 5-0 with a three-run fifth thanks to four straight hits —singles by Card and Saunders, an RBI single to left by Hodge and a two-run single to left by Cote.
Hermon got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Kevin Frederick walked and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Fournier.
Ellsworth regained a five-run lead in the top of the sixth when Brad Folmer reached on catcher’s interference, stole second and scored on Card’s single to right-center.
But Hermon countered with a game-tying rally in the bottom of the inning. Braddock Deabay walked and scored on a double to right-center by McCluskey. McCluskey went to third on the throw home and scored on Cody Veilleux’s ground single to center.
Perkins followed with an opposite-field RBI triple to right and scored the fourth run of the inning by stealing home after Ellsworth had to throw to first base on a dropped third strike to Frederick.
McGinley drew a two-out walk, went to second on a single by Fournier and to third on a wild pitch before scoring on the back end of a delayed double steal to tie the game.