ORONO, Maine — Garvey Melmed can’t help but giggle at the sound of the word “basketball.”
The Old Town High School senior is nearly two months removed from helping the Coyotes win the Class B state championship in that sport, but the afterglow of that season-ending 10-game winning streak that secured the gold ball remains strong.
Now Melmed and several of his basketball teammates would like to transfer that momentum to the baseball diamond, and took a first step Tuesday with a season-opening 12-2 victory over neighboring Orono.
“About half of the basketball team is playing baseball, and everyone else now wants to experience that during the baseball season,” he said. “Hopefully we can carry that winning mentality over to baseball.”
Melmed played a prominent role in getting coach Brad Goody’s club off to a good start, pitching a five-hitter against the Red Riots.
“He hit his spots, he mixed and matched real well, he had the curveball going for strikes and had them swinging at it in the dirt,” Goody said. “It seemed he had control of everything he threw.”
The right-hander struck out nine batters and walked one while mixing well-placed fastballs and biting breaking pitches — at least five strikeouts came on curveballs in the dirt.
“I think the rest of my team knows I’m not an overpowering fastball pitcher so I rely on my offspeed pitches,” Melmed said. “My curveball was working today for sure and [catcher] Tyler Young did a great job back there stopping them. They were swinging at them and he was blocking them and throwing guys out.”
Melmed was backed by a 10-hit Old Town offense that generated 10 runs over the final three innings and a defense that did not commit an error while playing or practicing outside for just the fourth day this spring.
“That was shocking,” said Goody of the defensive effort, “because we had seven errors in one game last week and five or six in the other. But we figured it out today, I guess.”
Eric Hoogterp and Young, the Nos. 8-9 batters in the Old Town lineup, each doubled, singled and scored twice, while designated hitter Zac Miller singled twice and Braden Upshaw added a two-run single.
“It was exciting to see us play defense and pitch, and everything else seemed to take care of itself,” said Goody.
Sophomore right-hander Dennis Farnham kept Orono within 2-1 through four innings, aided by two double-play grounders.
But Hoogterp — another key member of Old Town’s basketball state title run — opened the top of the fifth with a double to right-center to ignite a four-run rally.
Hoogterp later scored during a rundown between third base and the plate when a throw home bounced off his helmet.
Upshaw later flared a one-out single to right to drive home Young and leadoff batter Kaleb Gifford, who reached on a squeeze bunt that led to Hoogterp’s run. Miller added a two-out RBI single to make it 6-1.
Adam Richardson walked and Young doubled in the sixth. Tyler Byther’s sacrifice fly drove home Richardson, and a relay throw to third base bounced off the sliding Young and out of play, allowing a second run to score.
Orono closed within 8-2 in the bottom of the inning as Dillon Cyr doubled to left and later scored on a wild pitch, but Old Town used three walks and three errors to score four more runs in the seventh.
Cyr’s double was one of three extra-base hits for Orono, as freshman Jackson Coutts and junior Kam Stokley each hit opposite-field doubles to produce a second-inning run that gave the Red Riots a 1-0 lead.
A two-out RBI single by Gifford tied the game in the third, and Old Town took the lead for good an inning later when Melmed had an infield hit, stole second and scored on an infield error.