BREWER — Nine days without a countable game could have left the Brewer baseball team rusty entering its postseason debut Friday.
Instead the break rejuvenated the fourth-ranked Witches, who pounded out 15 hits to defeat No. 5 Lewiston 12-6 in an Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal at Heddericg Field.
“It’s been nice to kind of get some rest,” said Brewer senior left fielder Jordan Richards, who doubled and singled twice with four RBIs.
“But we’ve been anxious to get back and I think that helped us hitting-wise because we’ve really been concentrating the last couple days in batting practice and we’ve just been crushing the ball.”
The win sets up a semifinal between Brewer and top-ranked Bangor at 1 p.m. today at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Undefeated Bangor (17-0) has defeated Brewer twice this spring, 9-4 in the season opener at Bangor on April 21 and 10-6 at Brewer on May 14.
But Brewer (13-4) is now riding its own seven-game win streak — despite having senior pitcher Pat McEwen on crutches Friday after an ankle injury earlier this week — and the Witches are looking forward to playing a second game in less than 24 hours.
“It’s a quick turnaround, but it’s an enjoyable turnaround,” said Brewer coach Dana Corey. “It’s the one turnaround you want, you don’t to turn around and say ‘I’m going to play 18 tomorrow.’
“The kids are excited about it, and we’re looking forward to playing Bangor. One, it’s the rivalry, but two, both teams are on the journey to get to the same spot.”
Brewer jumped on Lewiston sophomore lefthander Corbin Hyde for a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and extended the margin to as much as 12-3 through five innings.
Seven of Brewer’s hits went for extra bases, including a triple by Eric White and two doubles by second baseman Brandon Gendreau.
“That was definitely our best hitting performance,” said White, who this week was named a finalist for the John W. Winkin Award symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball. “The last couple of days in batting practice we’ve been hitting real well, and it just translated to the game.”
Richards had three hits, including a two-run single to cap Brewer’s first-inning rally.
“I was just trying to make contact, trying to score some runs early to jump out on top because that would really boost our confidence,” he said. “[Hyde] threw me a fastball, so I just put it back up the middle and got us some runs.”
Richards added a third-inning single and a two-run double during a five-run rally by the Witches in the fourth. Gendreau also had three hits, while White had two hits, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs.
Winning pitcher Kyle McLain contributed a double and a single, while Blake Birmingham and Tyler Desjardins each singled twice as the top six batters in the Brewer lineup had at least two hits each.
“They hit the ball outstanding today,” said Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli. “They did a little more than just put the ball in play, they drove the ball to the outfield.”
Brewer’s offensive might made the going easier for McLain, a junior righthander who scattered nine hits while striking out nine batters and walking two.
Lewiston (10-7) reached McLain for three runs in the third and sixth innings, but McLain also struck out eight straight batters during one stretch.
“The first couple of innings I was just trying to pound the strike zone and let my guys behind me make plays,” said McLain. “The second and third times around I wanted to mix it up, so I went a little more off-speed, and then we got a good lead so I was able to go back to pounding the strike zone.
“I was lucky our game wasn’t [Thursday] to be honest, because my arm was dragging a little bit, but I came out here today and felt pretty good.”