DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Forrest Law figured he was due a turn of good fortune.
His first two at-bats Friday not only produced two strikeouts, but when the Foxcroft Academy third baseman missed some signs during his second plate appearance a pinch-hitter replaced him for his next scheduled time up.
But from that disappointment emerged a celebration for Law and his teammates after he re-entered the lineup with two out in the bottom of the eighth, as his 30-foot infield single drove home Ryan Rebar to give the Ponies a 6-5 Class B baseball victory over previously undefeated John Bapst of Bangor.
“I was picturing maybe a nice single to right, but I’ll take this,” said Law. As soon as I saw it hit the bat I knew I’d be safe because it was right along the third-base line and a fair amount away from the pitcher.”
Rebar led off the inning with a single to right-center and advanced to third base on groundouts to shortstop by Cameron Fadley and Cody Coiley.
Law then dribbled a 1-0 pitch from John Bapst reliever Jon Deschaine down the third-base line, with the ball staying just on the infield grass as it rolled to a stop. Neither Deschaine nor third baseman Sean O’Donnell had a play on the swinging bunt as Rebar sprinted home from third base.
“I smoked it,” Law joked.
The win boosts Foxcroft, playing its first season back in Class B after reaching the Eastern Maine Class C final a year ago, to 6-4. John Bapst — which ended the Ponies’ 33-game regular-season winning streak earlier this spring — falls to 8-1.
“You look at the box score and we probably didn’t have a lot of hits — six, that’s good for us,” said Foxcroft coach Mark Chevalier. “But we did a lot of little things and found a way to win.”
John Bapst had a chance to break the 5-5 tie in the top of the eighth after Andrew Catlin hit a one-out single up the middle and stole second.
O’Donnell then blasted a two-out shot over the head of Foxcroft right fielder Jesse Provost, but Provost threw O’Donnell out at second base to end the inning just before Catlin crossed the plate with what would have been the go-ahead run.
“We didn’t react to the ball right off the bat and it got out there fast,” said John Bapst coach Dave Gonyar. “It was our mistake not knowing how many outs there were. If we had, we would have scored the run and who knows what happens from there.”
Rebar (3-1) shook off a mammoth three-run first-inning home run by John Bapst’s Max Andrews to earn the complete-game pitching victory. The junior righthander scattered 11 hits while striking out six, walking four and allowing three earned runs.
“Our team is good when it comes to dealing with adversity,” said Rebar, “and I knew if I just kept my composure and battled back after that home run that we’d make a run at some point.”
Rebar was aided by his team’s outfield defense, not only Provost’s eighth-inning assist but throws by center fielder Fadley in the third inning and left fielder Hunter Law in the fifth that cut down runners at the plate.
Coiley, the Ponies’ catcher, made difficult tags to end each of those plays, the first a sweeping lunge 15 feet up the third-base line to put out Evan Pelkey and the second when he held onto the ball to end the fifth after Law’s throw and John Bapst baserunner Dan Davis reached him at the same time.
“The outfielders got the ball to me, and they weren’t completely on the mark but they gave me a chance to make the play,” said Coiley.
Andrews pitched into the seventh for John Bapst, overpowering Foxcroft at times while striking out 13 batters, walking three and allowing four hits.
But after the Crusaders extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the third on an RBI single by Lucas Wardell that delivered Davis from third base before Fadley threw out Pelkey on the play, Foxcroft began chipping away.
The Ponies scored three runs in the bottom of the third, combining a leadoff single by Provost, three stolen bases, two walks, a balk and three John Bapst errors to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
Foxcroft took a 5-4 lead after two were out in the fifth, as Kaleb Smith walked and Caleb Richard singled to right before both runners scored when Rebar doubled to deep right.
“I just wanted to at least put the ball in play,” said Rebar. “The last thing I wanted to do was strike out, but I got a good piece of the ball and hit it hard.”
John Bapst tied the game in the sixth when Wardell reached on an error and scored on a two-out double to right by Shawn Curran.
“Everything we hoped wouldn’t happen happened early in the game,” said Chevalier, “and that just makes it so much sweeter that we were able to come back from 4-0 down against the top team and their top pitcher.
“It’s a season-changing type of game for us.”