BUCKSPORT, Maine — Relatively low scores and late comebacks are becoming more the norm than the exception in the Penobscot Valley Conference Class B baseball ranks this spring.
More evidence of such balance is that Bucksport stands as the lone remaining unbeaten in the league through just two weeks of play after living out that scenario Saturday in a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Hermon.
“All the teams in this league are very tough,” said Golden Bucks’ junior third baseman Billy DeRedin, whose two-run double in the bottom of the sixth drove in the tying and winning runs. “We know that, and we come out at the start of every game knowing that.”
A common denominator among the PVC “B” contenders is starting pitching depth, and Tyler French gave 3-0 Bucksport its third straight quality start with a complete-game five-hitter.
The junior righthander required just 73 pitches to finish his seven innings while striking out five and walking just one to outduel Hermon’s Cody Veilleux.
“I just tried to keep the ball down and get a lot of ground balls,” French said. “A lot of curveballs, too, mixing it in because they were pounding it into the ground and the fielders did a good job.”
Veilleux yielded just five hits and two earned runs while striking out five and walking five for a Hermon team that is now 1-2 — with all three of its decisions coming by one run.
“Cody pitched a great game,” said Hermon coach Doug McGinley.
Hermon had taken a 3-2 lead with two runs in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Vellieux and a sacrifice fly by freshman Will Perkins.
But Bucksport countered in the bottom of the inning. Tyler McAllian lined a one-out single to center and Evan Eldridge walked before the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch.
DeRedin then drove a 2-2 fastball to the gap in right-center field, driving home both McAllian and Eldridge to restore Bucksport to a one-run lead.
“I was struggling my first couple of at-bats seeing the ball and reading the curveball because [Veilleux] has a really nice curveball,” said DeRedin. “So I was paying attention to his curve, but I saw his fastball grip and knew the count and he hit the outside corner so I just went the other way.”
French made that lead stand up by retiring Hermon in order in the top of the seventh, with the final two outs coming via strikeouts.
“Today Tyler showed what he is, just a competitor, and that’s all you can ask of these guys,” said Bucksport coach Mike Cowing. “He was very efficient.”
Bucksport scored two unearned runs to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. French drew a two-out walk and advanced to second as Tim Nason reached on an infield error. McAllian walked to load the bases before Eldridge singled up the middle to drive home French and Nason.
Hermon reached French for its first run in the fourth. Veilleux hit a one-out single to left, stole second and went to third on an infield hit by Brad McCluskey before scoring on a sacrifice fly to left by Perkins.
“As I told the kids in the huddle, I’ll guarantee this won’t be the last one-run game that we win or lose, so be prepared,” said Cowing. “We’re going to beat the crap out of each other in the PVC “B”, we really are.
“There are going to be a lot of close games out there.”