LINCOLN, Maine — After three straight Eastern Maine Class C championship seasons, it’s a bit of a rebuilding year for the Calais High School baseball team.
Eight starters had to be replaced this spring, most by players seeing their first extensive varsity duty, and with that has come some growing pains as coach Kenny Murphy’s club entered Monday’s game at Mattanawcook Academy coming off three straight losses.
But the new-look Blue Devils looked to have grown up almost instantly against the Lynx, rallying from a five-run deficit by erupting for 15 runs during the fifth and sixth innings to secure a pointworthy and confidence-boosting 18-9 victory.
The win elevated Calais (4-3) from eighth place to fourth in the Eastern C Heal point ratings. Mattanawcook (5-3) fell one spot from fifth place to sixth.
Calais pounded out 19 hits in the contest, with seven starters having at least two hits each and five players driving home at least two runs.
“I knew we could hit with these guys,” said Murphy. “And we had a long talk last Friday after we got 10-run ruled by [Class B Washington Academy]. I told them this was the biggest game of the year for us. If we’re going to step up and make the playoffs we had to go into Lincoln and beat them.”
Mattanawcook held an 8-3 lead through four innings, but Calais batted around in each of its next two at-bats, scoring five runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game and 10 more runs in the sixth to build an 18-8 cushion.
Sophomore right fielder Andre Paul, the No. 9 hitter in the Calais batting order, had three singles and four RBIs to pace the offense. That performance included a two-run, two-out, opposite-field single to right in the top of the fourth that got the Blue Devils untracked offensively after MA starter Austin Smith had limited them to one run on four hits over the first three innings.
“Andre had three big hits, and I think that two-run hit he had in the fourth got us going,” said Murphy. “That hit got us to 5-3, and then we had big innings the next two times up.”
Paul’s fourth-inning single narrowed the gap to 5-3, and while Mattanawcook capitalized on two Calais errors and an RBI single by Brett Crocker to take a five-run cushion in the bottom of the inning, the Blue Devils’ offense was just getting started.
Calais sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, with Tyler Morrison hitting a two-run single and Kyle Johnson, Tyler Farley and Paul adding RBI hits as the Blue Devils forged an 8-8 tie.
The offense was even more extreme in the sixth, as Calais sent 14 batters to the plate while scoring 10 more runs on nine hits. Ryan Johnson singled home John Edwards with the go-ahead run, and leadoff hitter Logan Johnson later contributed a two-run ground single to center — with a third run scoring on the play thanks to an MA error.
Edwards, Ryan Johnson and Kyle Johnson each had two hits in the inning, with Ryan Johnson driving home two runs with a double and a single and Edwards, Kyle Johnson, P.J. Descoteaux and Paul each adding an RBI.
“That’s a good team there,” said Murphy of Mattanawcook. “But I think their pitcher got tired and my team capitalized when they started getting the pitches up. One through nine, they drove the ball.”
Kyle Johnson finished the game with a double, two singles and two RBIs for Calais, while Descoteaux doubled twice and singled. Morrison and Ryan Johnson each doubled and singled, with Morrison driving home three runs and Johnson contributing two RBIs. Lucas Knowles had two singles and three stolen bases, while Edwards also singled twice.
“These kids never quit,” said Murphy. “You saw it today. It’s unbelievable the way they hit the ball.”
Morrison earned the pitching win with three innings of one-run relief in support of starter Logan Johnson.
Nick Garfield led Mattanawcook’s offense with two singles, while Trysten Pelkey had a double and two RBIs and Smith hit two sacrifice flies.