BANGOR, Maine — These are hectic times for the John Bapst baseball team, which swept a makeup doubleheader against Presque Isle in Aroostook County on Wednesday and faces another lengthy road trip Down East on Saturday for two games at Washington Academy of East Machias.
Thursday’s clash against Hermon at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University provided the Crusaders a brief respite from the highway, but coach Dave Gonyar’s club also needed the bottom of the seventh inning that goes to the home team to salvage a 5-4 victory.
John Bapst, which began the day ranked fourth in Eastern Maine Class B, is 11-2 after securing its fifth straight victory. Hermon dips to 5-8.
“It’s been tough, five games in four days,” said John Bapst junior third baseman Cody Lyons. “It was a long trip up there [Wednesday] but we got both wins so that was good.”
Hermon had scored twice in the top of the seventh to take its first lead at 4-3, with Josh Wilson scoring on a sacrifice fly by Nick Guerrette and Jared Cox coming across the plate on a wild pitch by John Bapst reliever Evan Pelkey.
Nick Jordan opened the John Bapst seventh by drawing a walk off Hermon freshman right-hander Nick Guerrette. Nolan Webber then hit a ground ball to shortstop, but an errant throw gave the Crusaders runners on first and second with no one out.
Lyons, the No. 8 batter in the John Bapst lineup, drove an 0-1 pitch into right field for his third single of the game to drive home Jordan with the tying run.
Jon Deschaine then laid down a bunt in front of the plate against Hermon reliever Kyle Wyman that was thrown wide of first base and into right field, allowing Webber to score from second base with the winning run.
“We were down by one going into the inning and just wanted to come back and win the game,” said Lyons. “I had one strike on me and then he threw it down the middle and I hit it opposite field and we scored one, and then we had first and second and the bunt won it.”
Andrew Catlin, Shawn Curran and Pelkey each added two singles to John Bapst’s 12-hit attack, while Webber doubled.
“We ran into a couple of outs, and a couple of times we ripped it and it was right at people. Their pitcher didn’t give us anything extra, he just kept coming at us and said if we were going to beat him we’d have to do it by hitting,” said Gonyar.
Pelkey, the third of three John Bapst pitchers, earned the win despite yielding Hermon’s seventh-inning runs.
Webber worked the first two innings on the mound for the Crusaders and Tom Burns followed with three innings of relief before Webber came on in the sixth, meaning all three John Bapst pitchers will be eligible for Saturday’s doubleheader.
Cox had two hits for Hermon, which was playing without standout pitcher-outfielder Will Perkins, who is sidelined by a back injury. Ben Wheeler added a double to the Hawks’ seven-hit attack while Guerrette had two RBIs.
John Bapst scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the second to take a 3-0 lead.
Webber led off the inning with a hustle double to right-center, and Lyons followed with a single to right.
Back-to-back RBI singles to right by Catlin and Curran drove home Webber and Lyons, and Catlin scored the third run on a sacrifice fly to right by Pelkey.
The Crusaders amassed 10 hits over the first four innings, but Guerrette and the Hawks displayed considerable escapability in stranding eight John Bapst baserunners during that span.
“We were looking at the scoreboard and we had 10 hits but only three runs, we weren’t stringing hits together,” said Lyons.
And that allowed Hermon to stay in contention before finally breaking through against Burns for a pair of two-out runs in the top of the fifth to close within 3-2.
Tyler Thayer was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and after Burns retired the next two batters Cox beat out an infield hit to the shortstop hole. Guerrette singled to center to drive home Thayer, and Cox scored on a single to left by Connor Farmer to suddenly make this a one-run game.