DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — This was a baseball contest with great promise, as the defending Eastern Maine Class B champion Foxcroft Academy Ponies opened their season Thursday against neighboring Dexter, a familiar foe that reached the Eastern C title game last spring.
But combine that rivalry with a cold, uncomfortable afternoon and the unpredictability that often comes during the first week of the season, and perhaps not surprisingly the result was a rather unusual affair.
Foxcroft scored eight runs before making its first out of the game, then took a 13-run lead into the fifth inning with a 10-run-rule victory firmly within its grasp.
Dexter avoided that minor embarrassment by rallying for six runs in the top of the inning, but after that Foxcroft was content with going the distance for its 16-7 win.
“It was a strange opener,” said Foxcroft coach Mark Chevalier. “Both teams obviously have work to do and being the first game and a cold day there were more mistakes than usual, but we beat a good team by nine runs so I really can’t be too upset about it.”
Senior righthander Ryan Rebar allowed one unearned run in four innings on the mound to earn the win for the Ponies while teammates Caleb Richard and Cameron Fadley combined for seven RBIs to pace Foxcroft’s 12-hit attack.
The Ponies held a 9-0 lead after a first inning in which they sent 13 batters to the plate and managed just two hits — one a two-run single through the middle of the infield by Richard in his second at-bat.
Foxcroft also capitalized on six walks and a hit batter issued by a shorthanded Dexter pitching staff.
The Tigers (1-1) are expected to be without the pitching services of their top two starters from a year ago, seniors Casey Jordan and Matt Crane, until at least mid-May as they recover from lingering arm problems.
“We’re a little bit behind but we’re going to go battle,” said Dexter coach Chad Graffam. “We’ve got some kids who want to make an effort and give an effort, so we’ll be fine.”
Foxcroft used its bats to add five runs in the third inning, with a three-run double to deep center by Fadley the most telling of five hits amassed by the Ponies during the uprising.
Jordan reached on an error and scored for Dexter on a double-play grounder by Dustin Sirabella to make it a 14-1 game in the fourth, and when Foxcroft went to its bench the Tigers then averted having the game halted early with six runs in the top of the fifth on four hits and three more Foxcroft errors.
“After the first inning I told the guys we play seven, and that if we could get to that point we could take something positive out of this,” said coach Graffam.
Foxcroft scored its final runs in the sixth when Forrest Law hit a leadoff double to left, Luke Olson singled to right, and both runners came home when Richard grounded his second two-run single of the game to left field.
Richard finished with three singles, a walk and four RBIs in five plate appearances from the leadoff spot in the Ponies’ batting order, while Fadley added a single and a walk to his bases-clearing double.
Law and Olson also contributed two hits each for Foxcroft.
“We were patient at the plate and allowed them to beat themselves early, and we also hit the ball hard throughout the game so I’m quite pleased with our offense,” said Chevalier. “Sixteen runs in six innings is a great start.”
Rebar struck out five batters and walked no one while yielding four hits before leaving the game with a 13-run lead.
Graffam and Crane each singled twice for Dexter.