WINSLOW, Maine — The defending Eastern Maine Class B baseball champions were breathing down Nick Mazurek’s neck in the very first inning of Monday’s midseason showdown between the top two teams in the division, according to Heal point ratings.
But rather than succumb to pressure, the sophomore right-hander and his Oceanside High School teammates pulled off a great escape that propelled the undefeated Mariners to a 4-1 victory over Winslow at Jack Nivison Diamond.
“We know how good Winslow is, and I expect they’re going to be right there at season’s end,” said Oceanside coach Don Shields, whose top-ranked club is 8-0. “This was a big game for us. I think it really proved to us that we can compete with the elite teams in the KVAC and in Eastern Maine Class B.”
Mazurek continued his mind-boggling spring on the mound, yielding one unearned run on five hits while striking out five batters and walking two during an 85-pitch performance.
“Anything Nick wanted to throw today was working,” said catcher J.T. Tobin, one of just three seniors on the Oceanside roster. “Definitely his two-seam was on point, and the change-up was something, too.”
Mazurek, 4-0 with a save through the first half of the Mariners’ schedule, has yet to allow an earned run in 28⅓ innings after outdueling Winslow ace Dylan Hapworth.
“I really had everything working today,” he said. “I was hitting spots with my fastball. My change-up was really good, and the change-up was just enough to throw the batters off and make my fastball look harder than it really was.”
Hapworth (2-1) was victimized by allowing early baserunners in three of the first four innings — Oceanside’s leadoff batters reached base and scored in both the first and fourth innings, as did its second batters in both the third and fourth innings.
The junior right-hander also worked a complete game, striking out 12 batters,walking two and yielding three earned runs on six hits.
Yet this game might have taken on a vastly different tone had Winslow’s offense been able to capitalize on a bases-loaded, zero-out threat in the bottom of the first.
Oceanside took a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning on singles by Nick Judge and Mazurek and a sacrifice fly to foul territory in right field by Tobin.
Winslow (5-3) was quick to threaten, with freshman Ben Smith reaching on a bad-hop single to center, Trevor Lovely lining an opposite-field double down the left-field line, and Hapworth being hit by a pitch — all before Mazurek had retired a batter.
Cleanup batter Zach Guptil then worked the count to 3-0 before Mazurek responded with three straight strikes — the third one catching Guptil looking.
Ryan Dubois then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with Oceanside’s Thomas Curtis scooping up the one-hop throw to first, and the Mariners raced back to their bench still holding the lead.
“I couldn’t have done it if my defense wasn’t there for me,” Mazurek said. “They made a great double play to save me with one out and the bases loaded. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Oceanside doubled its lead after two were out in the third, as Zac Roman reached on an infield hit and scored when Mazurek doubled to right-center.
“[Hapworth] threw me two curveballs the previous two pitches, so in my mind, I’m thinking there’s no doubt that he’s going to come with a fastball,” said Mazurek. “Not many pitchers have the confidence to throw three curveballs in a row. I guessed right and was able to put it in a gap.”
Winslow halved its deficit in the bottom of the inning on a walk, an error by Mazurek and a two-out RBI single to left-center by Dubois.
Zach Peaco drew a leadoff walk for Oceanside in the fourth and scored when Curtis drilled a hanging curveball into the left-center field gap for an RBI double. Pinch-runner Caleb Jacob later scored on a passed ball to make it 4-1.