ORONO — The Old Town High School baseball team aspires to be among the top contenders in Eastern Maine Class B this spring with its blend of pitching, defense and run manufacturing.
All were on display at Mahaney Diamond on Tuesday as the Coyotes opened their season with a 15-2, five-inning victory over Orono.
Coach Dave Utterback’s club combined 10 base hits with 10 stolen bases to provide plenty of offensive support for senior righthander Casey Estes, who scattered seven hits while striking out eight batters and walking just two.
“I wasn’t pitching as well as I’d like,” said Estes, who threw 85 pitches during a complete-game effort, “but you’ve got to battle through that because you’re not going to be on every single day. I’m just happy my guys got a lot of runs and played good defense behind me.”
Dan Gastia, the No. 9 batter in the Old Town lineup, had three singles — two of them infield hits — and scored three runs, while Cody Cross tripled and singled and Estes doubled and singled with two RBIs.
Gabe Melmed also scored three runs for the Coyotes while leadoff batter Cameron Archer added a two-run triple.
“It was good to open up with a lot of runs and good pitching,” said Cross. “We have trouble producing runs, but it didn’t show today.”
Old Town also was efficient with its offense, stranding just five baserunners.
“I was pretty pleased offensively,” said Utterback. “After seven preseason games when we hadn’t been hitting the ball all that well and hadn’t been scoring runs and hadn’t been coming through with runners in scoring position, today was encouraging to see us get hits with guys on base and move base runners along.”
Class C Orono, which started four freshmen, got a double and a single from Bryce Mehnart and an RBI single from Nate Paul.
Old Town scored three runs without benefit of a hit in the top of the first inning, with the Coyotes capitalizing on two walks, two Orono errors, two stolen bases and two wild pitches by Red Riots’ starter Dominic Mowrer.
After Orono cut the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back singles by Cameron Dwyer and Phil Benoit, a wild pitch and a throwing error, Old Town sent 10 batters to the plate while scoring four runs in the top of the second to take control. Melmed hit a two-run double while Estes had an RBI single and Gastia singled home a run to fuel the rally.
The Coyotes then scored eight runs in the third, with Estes singling home Melmed and scoring on Cross’ triple to left to get the rally going and Archer pulling a two-out triple down the left-field line to drive home David Wilcox and Gastia to cap off the uprising.
“Our defense is going to be good and our pitching is strong,” said Estes of his team’s season outlook. “We’ve just got to capitalize when we get runners on base like we did today.”