DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The run-producing blasts over the fence or into the outfield gaps usually mark the most memorable moments of baseball rallies.
But sometimes it’s the subtler aspects of the game that lead to opportunities for those big bats to produce, as was the case during a key moment of Foxcroft Academy’s 7-1 Penobscot Valley Conference Class B victory over Mount Desert Island late Saturday afternoon.
The defending Eastern Maine champion Ponies, now 8-0, didn’t need a lot of offense with Ryan Rebar pitching his way to a complete-game one-hitter.
But with MDI ace Ben Walls also on the mound, Foxcroft was anticipating a close game like its three meetings against the Trojans last spring, when the Ponies lost twice during the regular season — the first time 2-0 and the second time in extra innings — before earning a 7-6 extra-inning victory in the Eastern B quarterfinals.
Coach Mark Chevalier’s club took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning and scratched out a second run when Jesse Provost’s two-out double to deep right drove home Hunter Law.
That’s when senior Kaleb Smith not only worked Walls for an inning-extending walk, but a draining nine-pitch base on balls during which he fouled off three close pitches after drawing his second strike.
Forrest Law then needed just two pitches to make the Trojans pay, driving a 1-0 fastball to the left-center field gap for a two-run double, and he scored to cap off the four-run, two-out rally when Luke Olson doubled to right-center on the next pitch.
“Everyone was working the count early on, and Kaleb working him down like that was awesome,” said Law. “I knew [Walls] had to start throwing some strikes so mentally it’s definitely good for me knowing there was going to be something coming over the plate.”
Smith finished the day going 0-for-2 with a walk, but he consumed 20 of Walls’ 101 pitches over five innings during his three plate appearances.
“That’s the type of hitter Kaleb is, he’s leading our team in walks and doubles,” said Chevalier. “He’s either walking or hitting the ball hard every time up. He was hitting ninth for us toward the end of last year, but I could make the argument that he’s been our best offensive player this year.”
Rebar, meanwhile, took advantage of MDI’s aggressive approach at the plate, requiring just 83 pitches to improve his record this spring to 4-0.
“I was just trying to focus on throwing strikes and getting ahead of the batters today and trusting my defense,” said Rebar, who needed just three pitches to retire MDI in order during the second inning.
The senior righthander struck out six batters and walked one while yielding only an RBI single by Steven Hanscome that drove home Adam Gray with one out in the fourth inning to make it a 5-1 game.
“It’s what we’ve come to expect, and Ryan delivers each time out,” said Chevalier. “He did a good job of pitching to contact early in the game, which kept his pitch count down, and he was able to go the distance without throwing too many pitches. He went after hitters, threw a lot of fastballs for strikes and we played good defense behind him.”
Foxcroft padded its lead with two runs off MDI reliever Jon Phelps in the sixth. Forrest Law drew a leadoff walk, stole second and reached third on a bunt single by Olson. A groundout by Brooks Law plated his older brother, then Olson scored on a suicide squeeze by Caleb Richard.
The win moved Foxcroft into first place in the Eastern B Heal point ratings, with the Ponies now idle until a May 14 home game against Old Town.
MDI, now 6-2, is ranked fifth in the division.
“Foxcroft’s a well-coached team, they came ready to play, and I don’t think we met the challenge today like I thought we would,” said MDI coach Mike Swanson. “I don’t think we competed the way we have been.”