THOMASTON, Maine — Oceanside righthander Dylan Maloney was cruising along early in his pitching start against Belfast on Wednesday afternoon, only to have a line drive off his left leg threaten to ruin his day.
But after yielding four runs in the immediate aftermath of that stinging liner, Maloney regrouped and retired the last 13 batters he faced as the Mariners rallied for a 7-4 victory.
“The first couple of innings were going smoothly and then I got the line drive off my leg,” said Maloney. “We lost a little momentum after that and had an implosion in the third inning, but we brought it back with our bats and slowly creeped back into the game.”
The win ended a two-game losing streak for coach Don Shields’ club, losses to Lincoln Academy of Newcastle and Camden Hills of Rockport during which Oceanside was victimized by defensive lapses.
But the 2-2 Mariners did not commit an error against 0-4 Belfast, with outfielders Billy Joyce, Dan Hendricks and Zac Roman fighting off a tricky wind to flag down four fly balls without incident over the final three innings.
“When Dylan’s on the mound he makes things easy for us,” said Oceanside senior shortstop Anthony Campagnoli. “We made the routine plays today, and the outfielders made some nice catches with the wind.”
Maloney needed just 88 pitches in his complete-game effort, with 67 going for strikes as the senior struck out five batters, walked one and yielded six hits — all singles.
“One of the things I’ve talked about to the kids all year and for a number of years is that you have to throw strikes, you have to get ahead in the count and not walk kids, and Dylan’s really grasped that over the last couple of years,” said Shields. “He is our No. 1 pitcher, and he’s shown up in both games he’s gone out there for so far and not given up any freebies.
“He makes the batters earn whatever they get and he keeps the ball right around the strike zone.”
Belfast righthander Tyler Prescott also walked just one batter in his five innings of work, but five errors by the Lions led to four unearned runs by Oceanside, including three in the bottom of the third that tied the game after Belfast had taken a 4-1 lead in the top of the inning.
Oceanside took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the second as Seth Batty singled to center, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an overthrow after a groundout by J.T. Tobin.
Tyler Tran opened the Belfast third with an infield hit to second base, and Lucas Clark followed with a liner off the calf of Maloney’s plant leg to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice by Zach Collier advanced the runners before Greg Clark’s infield single up the middle drove home Tran. Daimon Benner then grounded a two-run single to center to give the Lions a 3-1 lead.
A two-out single to left by Larry Dyer drove home Benner to extend Belfast’s advantage to three runs.
“That woke us up a little bit,” said Shields. “We came right back with a nice three-run inning and from that point on I thought we played really solid baseball.”
Oceanside got a little help in its comeback from Belfast, which committed four of its five errors in the bottom of the third to go with an RBI infield hit to third base by Maloney and another run-scoring infield single by Batty that tied the game at 4-4.
The Mariners regained the lead an inning later as Roman reached on an infield hit, stole second and came home on back-to-back groundouts by Jordan Carter and Hendricks.
Maloney grounded a leadoff single to center in the Oceanside fifth and went to third on a double to left by Joyce. Maloney then scored on a groundout by Tobin, and Joyce made it 7-4 when he scored on a wild pitch by Prescott.
Maloney, Batty and Roman each singled twice for Oceanside, while Joyce and Drew Townsend each added a double.
Dyer singled twice for Belfast.