DOVER-FOXCROFT — The Foxcroft Academy Ponies displayed all the characteristics of an undefeated baseball team during a five-inning 10-0 victory over Dexter on Tuesday afternoon.
Sophomore righthander Kaleb Smith pitched a four-hit shutout, his teammates played errorless defense, and the Foxcroft batting order capitalized on nine hits and 10 walks to put the Tigers away early.
And it wasn’t just the starters.
Five consecutive pinch-hitters combined to produce the game’s final two runs during the bottom of the fifth to clinch the Ponies’ 28th consecutive regular-season victory — including a 13-0 mark this spring good for first place in the Eastern Maine Class C Heal point ratings.
“So far we haven’t had a weak spot, really,” said junior catcher Cody Coiley. “We hit the ball, field the ball and our pitching’s been outstanding.”
The high-kicking Smith required just 63 pitches — throwing 39 for strikes — to improve his record to 5-0.
“I pitched just like any other day,” said Smith, one of three Foxcroft starters (along with Ryan Rebar and Jesse Provost) with at least four victories this spring. “My fastball was working. I wasn’t quite getting my curveball where it should be, but it worked out.”
Smith did not strike out a batter but walked just two, and was backed by a defensive effort that included a diving catch of a sinking line drive by left fielder Hunter Law, a reaching grab of an opposite-field flare by first baseman Forrest Law that took away another Dexter hit, and a line drive caught by second baseman Shinsuke Mikame that became an unassisted double play when he outraced a Dexter baserunner back to second base.
“Kaleb just pounded the strike zone like he always does,” said first-year Foxcroft head coach Mark Chevalier. “For the year about 70 percent of his first pitches are strikes, which leads our staff. He hasn’t really needed to strike out a lot of people this year, they put it in play but they don’t really hit it hard and we have a lot of confidence in our defense.”
Coiley, Ryan Rebar and Nick Strout each drove home two runs as the Ponies steadily pulled away. They scored twice in the first inning and once in the second before breaking the game open with a five-run fourth-inning rally that featured a two-run single to center by Strout and an RBI double to deep left by Rebar.
“It was a fastball over the plate and I took advantage of it and one-hopped the fence for the first time,” said Rebar, Foxcroft’s sophomore shortstop. “It felt pretty good.”
The Ponies’ bench went to work an inning later to bring the 10-run rule into play. Matt Chapman drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on a double to left by Caleb Richard. Richard scored the game-ending run on a two-out single to right by Dalton Turner.
Rebar doubled twice for Foxcroft, while Strout doubled and singled with two stolen bases, leadoff hitter Cameron Fadley singled twice and stole two bases, and Mikame scored three runs.
Dylan Graffam singled twice and Trevor Fogarty doubled for 6-7 Dexter, which numbers 11 sophomores and freshmen on its 15-player roster.
And while Foxcroft also boasts a youthful squad after significant graduation losses a year ago, the veteran Ponies who remain retain the memory of how their 2010 campaign suddenly ended — in a first-round playoff loss to Orono after ringing up 15 straight wins to end the regular season.
It’s a feeling they don’t want to experience again.
“We lost a lot of senior starters and had a new coach coming in this year, so we really didn’t know how we’d be,” said Coiley. “We knew we had a lot of young athletes, but if we could put it together or not was the question. So far we’ve done that.”