THOMASTON, Maine – Zac Roman scored from third base on a fielder’s choice grounder by Zach Peaco with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday to give the Oceanside Mariners a 3-2 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B baseball victory over Belfast.
The win was the fourth in the last five games for coach Don Shields’ club, now 5-4.
“We started off this season not doing too hot, but we’re definitely working our way back and we needed this one to help clear our way to the playoffs,” said Oceanside junior catcher J.T. Tobin.
Belfast, which defeated the Mariners 8-5 in their earlier meeting this spring on April 22, is now 4-4.
Roman opened the Oceanside 10th with a ground single to center field off Belfast reliever Asa Lewis, and Roman went to second base on the play after an outfield error.
Drew Townsend sacrificed Roman to third base before Belfast coach George Ross had the next two batters walked intentionally to set up a force play at any base – a tactic that had worked to perfection for the Lions three innings earlier.
But this time Peaco grounded the first pitch he saw slowly down the third-base line, and Roman raced home to give the Mariners the victory.
Sophomore righthander Ryan Allender earned the pitching win with two innings of scoreless relief, aided in the top of the 10th by a double play turned by Oceanside shortstop Townsend and second baseman Nick Judge after Belfast’s Greg Clark and Drew Stanley opened the inning with back-to-back singles.
The contest featured a pitching duel between Oceanside freshman Nick Mazurek and Belfast ace Damion Benner, though neither figured in the decision.
Mazurek worked eight innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and two walks while throwing 104 pitches, 77 for strikes.
“We’ve been playing some good, solid baseball and our pitching has been phenomenal,” said Shields. “Nick Maz is a freshman but he’s a power pitcher and he’s going to be our ace if he isn’t already. He’s done a great job.
“Ryan struggled in game one this year, but other than that he’s been spot-on. He’s got a nice knuckleball and he’s fearless.”
Benner threw 93 pitches over seven innings for Belfast, yielding one earned run on six hits while striking out five batters and walking three – two intentionally in the bottom of the seventh after Oceanside’s Dan Hendricks hit a leadoff double to right and went to third on a wild pitch.
After Travis Frye popped out to Benner, Judge and Roman were issued intentional walks to load the bases. Hendricks was forced out at the plate after Townsend hit a grounder to Belfast second baseman Sam Kulikowski, and Benner then recorded an inning-ending strikeout to strand the winning run at third and leave the game in a 2-2 stalemate.
Belfast took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Stanley was hit by a pitch with two out, stole second and scored on a ground single to left by Benner.
Oceanside took its first lead with two runs in the fourth, as Roman reached on an infield error and Tobin and Mazurek followed one out later with RBI doubles on back-to-back pitches.
“I remember swinging at that looping curveball,” said Tobin of his opposite-field double down the right-field line, which came on an 0-2 pitch. “I was just trying to protect. I thought it was going to be a foul ball but it was right down the line.”
Belfast tied the game with a one-out rally in the top of the seventh, as Matt Smith doubled to right-center and scored on a ground single to right by Kulikowski.
Smith led Belfast’s nine-hit attack with a double and two singles, while Clark doubled and singled.
Tobin, Mazurek and Hendricks each doubled and singled to account for six of Oceanside’s seven hits.
“Our kids are resilient, and it was really nice to seem them come back today,” said Shields.