ROCKLAND — The Rockland District High School baseball team is trying to make the most of its final season.
And the latest chapter in the team’s final season before the school merges this summer with Georges Valley of Thomaston to form Oceanside High School was its most emphatic victory of the spring to date, a 17-1 five-inning overwhelming of Medomak Valley of Waldoboro at fog-bound Morrill Field on Friday afternoon.
University of Maine-bound senior Luke Morrill led the way for coach Joe Nelsen’s Tigers, pitching a two-hitter, driving home four runs and scoring four runs as his team earned its fifth consecutive victory.
Rockland, currently ranked second in Eastern Maine Class B, is now 9-3 while Medomak Valley fell to 6-4 after having its own four-game win streak halted.
“I think it’s about where we thought we’d be,” said Rockland senior first baseman Joe Nelsen, the coach’s son. “We have a small team, but me and Luke both thought from the beginning we were going to be good. We have a lot of athletes, and a lot of people can play multiple positions.”
Morrill, a pitcher and shortstop, struck out eight batters and walked just one while throwing 72 pitches to improve his season’s record to 3-1.
“I felt good today,” he said. “For the first couple of starts this year I felt like my form was off and I was throwing mostly with my arm. Today I was more relaxed and got back to my mechanics. I felt fluid, I wasn’t overthrowing any pitches, I just felt good and I think I made a good improvement on my form.”
The only hits allowed by the hard-throwing righthander came back-to-back with one out in the top of the first inning, a one-out single down the left-field line by Brandon Soper and a run-scoring double to center by Alex Greenrose that was lost in the fog that at times made outfielders nearly invisible from the dugouts.
“I left a curveball up in the first inning when they scored a run with a high fly ball into the gap,” said Morrill, “and then I realized I really needed to work on driving the ball into the ground and maybe get some ground balls instead of pop flies, and that worked for me.”
Rockland answered its early deficit by sending 16 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and scoring 11 runs on six hits, two Medomak errors and five walks.
Nelsen had a two-run double to the fog in center and an RBI infield hit during the uprising, while Steve Widdecombe also drove in three runs with a bases-loaded walk and a two-run ground single to right.
“It was like a playoff atmosphere to us,” said Morrill. “The conditions weren’t very good but they were the same for both teams, and we went out and executed and played really well as a team.”
The only question that remained was whether the fog would force the game to be suspended, but by the fourth inning it began to abate, enabling outfielders on both teams to begin making routine catches.
Morrill paced the 12-hit Rockland offense with a triple, double and single, while Nelsen, Jake Perry and Dan Hendricks each had two hits, Widdecombe had four RBIs and Justin Snow, Nelsen and Hendricks each scored three runs.
“We’ve only got 13 players and no JV team, but these kids have been warriors,” said coach Nelsen. “They just go out and do what is asked of them.
“We were kind of waiting for this game. We played Leavitt [of Turner Center] the other night and had 12 hits but put only four runs on the board even though we still won. Today we took advantage of our opportunities, and right now we’re running on all cylinders.”