BANGOR, Maine — The Central Aroostook High School baseball team had scored 39 runs, pounded out 33 hits and made six errors in its three Eastern Maine Class D tournament victories.
They collected 10 more hits in Saturday’s state championship game against Richmond but Bobcat lefty Nick Woods put on an impressive exhibition of clutch pitching, stranding 13 runners, to lead Richmond to a 7-4 triumph on a steamy, windy day at Mansfield Stadium.
It was 15-4 Richmond’s first state Class D baseball title since 1996.
The Panthers wound up 16-4.
Woods walked four hitters and hit three more while throwing 125 pitches, 65 for strikes.
“I threw all right,” he said. “It was kind of hot and I got tired quickly. But I kept at it. I threw strikes and I knew the team was behind me. And we came up with some runs.”
“Nick’s a fighter,” said Richmond senior center fielder Eric Dowd.
Woods was only the third lefty that the Panthers faced this season.
“He was the best lefty we faced all year. He was a very good pitcher,” said CAHS pitcher/shortstop Logan McLaughlin.
“He kept us off balance,” said Panther third baseman Kasey Brewer. “He’d throw his fastball away [to righthanded hitters] and his curve would break in on you. And you didn’t know it was coming.”
“His fastball had a good tail on it,” added Panthers catcher-pitcher Mitch Folsom.
Woods said he tried to keep the Central Aroostook hitters off balance by mixing up his fastball and curve and throwing a few knuckleballs.
“I tried not to throw anything right down the middle. I know they had great hitters,” said Woods. “I tried to work around their best hitters so I walked a few here and there. But it all worked out good.”
Brewer, Folsom and York, CA’s Nos. 4-5-6 hitters, had combined for six multiple-hit games in the EM playoffs to lead the Panthers and they went 6-for-10 with six RBIs against Deer-Isle Stonington in the 10-0 EM final win. But Woods held them to a 2-for-10 performance with two RBIs.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats mustered just four singles but capitalized on nine walks, two hit batsmen and five errors.
Six of their seven runs were unearned.
“We took advantage of their mistakes and their walks,” said Richmond senior catcher Bruce Carver. “You aren’t going to win many games when you walk nine and hit two batters. We made only one error. We had some walks but we made the plays.”
“Walks and errors killed us and that’s something we hadn’t been doing,” said Central Aroostook coach Brent York. “Our five errors came mostly in two innings, the fifth and the sixth. We got our hits but we didn’t get timely hits.”
Central Aroostook took a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning when the Bobcats struck for three runs without a hit.
Josh Rice and Woods walked off losing pitcher McLaughlin to open the inning and McLaughlin was replaced by Folsom,
One out later, Carver walked to load the bases and, with the infield drawn in, Wade Tuttle tied it when his hard ground bounced off second baseman York’s legs for an error.
One out later, Folsom hit Kade Strout and walked Mike King to force in two more runs.
Freshman Derek Rusby’s third hit of the game, a two-out RBI single, sliced the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
But Richmond added three more runs in the top of the sixth.
Rice walked and Woods ripped a line drive single to left.
Two outs later, with runners on second and third, Tuttle bounced a slow roller toward shortstop that third baseman Brewer did a nice job cutting off. However, his throw sailed up the right field side of first allowing two runs to score.
Shortstop McLaughlin’s throwing error allowed Tuttle to score.
“Our infield play had been pretty solid the whole season. We didn’t make any errors against Deer-Isle Stonington. That’s just the way it goes,” said Kasey Brewer.
Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said “that’s the way we play.
“We play solid defense, we put the ball in play and we rely on good senior pitching,” said Gardner, whose team made just one error in postseason play.
Carver’s sacrifice fly gave Richmond a 1-0 lead in the first but Folsom answered by lining a two-out, two-run double to left in the bottom of the first.
Woods had two singles for the winners while Rusby’s three hits and two apiece by McLaughlin and Mike McClung paced Central Aroostook.