EAST MACHIAS, Maine — For the first half of their season debut Friday afternoon, the Calais Blue Devils looked like anything but a team returning virtually intact from the 2011 edition that won its second straight Eastern Maine Class C baseball title.
Ten errors by coach Kenny Murphy’s club had helped Washington Academy build a 14-5 lead through four innings, and Calais was perilously close to being sent home early under the 10-run rule.
“We probably hadn’t committed 10 errors in the last two years with this group,” said Murphy. “They’re usually very good defensively.”
But as bad as the start might have been, it just served to make the finish all the more satisfying, as Calais erupted for nine runs in the top of the seventh to surge past the Raiders 19-15 in their mutual season opener.
Senior righthander Joe Mitchell gave the Blue Devils a chance to come back with 3⅓ innings of one-hit, one-run relief.
And come back the Blue Devils did, scoring four runs in the top of the sixth to draw within 15-10, then sending 14 batters to the plate in the seventh and combining six hits, five walks and one Washington Academy error to produce a stunning last-gasp uprising.
“We just had to take it one batter at a time, because one hit is not going to get you nine runs,” said senior infielder Jeremy Beers, who led off the Calais seventh with a walk and later grounded a two-out single down the third-base line to drive home Jesse Clark with the tying run.
Mitchell then followed with a single to left to drive home Nathan Pike and Logan Johnson and give the Blue Devils a 17-15 lead.
“It was an inside pitch, but the bases were loaded and I knew I had to make contact,” said Mitchell.
After Adam Geel was issued an intentional walk, Dylan Carter added a two-run single to right that drove home Beers and Mitchell to give Calais a four-run cushion.
“I hadn’t done much all game, but they walked Adam and I made them pay,” said Carter. “The pitch was a fastball inside. It still wasn’t a great hit, but I caught a gap.”
Mitchell yielded a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh but retired the next two batters to cap off the come-from-behind victory.
“They showed a lot of heart today,” said Murphy of his team. “We could have folded our tents when we were one run away from being 10-run ruled, but we didn’t.”
Clark and catcher Lewis Francis each singled and doubled to pace a 13-hit attack by Calais, with Lewis also robbed of extra bases twice via two spectacular catches by Washington Academy center fielder Tyler Varney.
Calais, which also capitalized on 17 walks issued by WA pitchers, also got two hits each from Mitchell, Geel and Pike, while Mitchell and Beers each scored four runs. Pike had a team-high three RBIs for the Blue Devils, while Mitchell, Geel, Carter and John Edwards each drove home two runs.
Freshman Colin Pineo paced the Washington Academy offense with a solo home run — the only hit allowed by Mitchell — along with a double, a single, four RBIs and three runs scored. Fred MacLean added two singles for the Raiders while Nick Pineo doubled.