HOWLAND — The breakthrough sports season at Penobscot Valley High School continues.
The Howlers’ baseball team, hosting a postseason contest for the first time since 1996, used the all-around play of Jacob Jones and the steady pitching of Dylan Worster to edge Washington Academy of East Machias 3-1 in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal at Lovett Field on Thursday.
The win, believed to be the first in postseason play for the PVHS baseball program since 1988, comes on the heels of an undefeated regular season in soccer and the first trip by the boys basketball team to the Bangor Auditorium in 23 years.
“We’ve had a good year all around,” said Jones. “In soccer, basketball and baseball, we’re feeling a little more up there than in years past because we’re getting things done and accomplishing our goals.”
Now the fourth-ranked Howlers (12-5) get another home game Saturday — a semifinal against No. 8 Orono, which stunned top-ranked Foxcroft Academy 6-4 in 11 innings in its quarterfinal.
No. 5 Washington Academy, which ironically defeated PVHS in its 1996 home playoff game, finishes 12- 5.
Worster allowed one run on seven hits while striking out seven, walking two and hitting a batter to outduel WA sophomore lefthander Toby Woods.
“I just wanted to throw strikes,” said Worster, a senior righthander who threw 96 pitches during a complete-game effort. “I hate giving up runs, so I just want to throw strikes because I’ve got a good defense behind me, they can field the ball.”
Woods yielded two runs on seven hits over five innings with five strikeouts and three walks.
“Toby pitched well enough, but Worster pitched a little better and they made some big plays,” said WA coach Blaine Steeves.
Many of those plays were made by Jones. The junior shortstop hit a two-out, two-run single in the second and a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to deliver the Howlers’ offense, and also made a diving stop of a grounder by Ryan Schoppee to start a double play that quelled a WA rally in the top of the sixth, when the Raiders scored their only run.
“We had awards night and Jake was our MVP for a reason,” said PVHS coach Ernie Gerrish. “He came out today and proved why.”
PVHS took the lead in the second as Logan Jipson and Adam Callender each singled to center and Derrick Bellevance walked before Jones singled to center to drive home Jipson and Callender.
WA mounted a threat in the fourth, only to have Worster thwart it by being in the wrong place at the right time.
Mike Lenfestey led off with an infield single and Bryce Colbeth was hit by a pitch. Schoppee then singled to left-center, but PVHS cut down Lenfestey at the plate. Center fielder Ryan Scopino threw the ball toward home where Worster — who should have been backing up the play behind the plate — caught the ball near the mound and made the short relay throw to catcher David Hallett, who tagged out the sliding Lenfestey on a close play.
“I should have backed it up there, but when I was running back I saw the throw had a couple of hops to it, and David said we had time so I just cut it off and threw it home,” Worster said.
WA finally broke through in the sixth, only to have Jones prevent an even greater uprising.
Lenfestey doubled to left-center and reached third on an infield hit by Colbeth. Schoppee then hit a grounder seemingly destined for center field — but Jones dove to his left to make the stop and flipped the ball to second baseman Tyler Brzozowski to start a momentum-killing double play.
“As soon as he hit it I knew I was going to have to go to the ground to get it,” said Jones.
Lenfestey scored on the play, but the bases were empty again and though Brett Lyons followed with a bloop double to left, the Raiders were unable to capitalize.