WATERBORO – Windham jumped out to an early, 2-0 lead at Massabesic on Saturday, May 13, Cam McCartney and Tanner Bernier both rounding to home in the top of the first on a double by Tim Greenlaw. The Eagles maintained the momentum from there, tacking on three more as the game unwound to eventually claim victory over the Mustangs, 5-2.
“This is the most runs we’ve scored all year in a game,” said Windham head coach Brody Artes. “Part of the reason we’ve been struggling this year is our plate appearances have not been good. We’ve been struggling at making mid-at-bat adjustments – what is it we do on certain counts? How do we approach a pitcher after he throws first-pitch fastball, after he throws first-pitch ball. We saw some improvement for sure today.”
Leadoff Eagle McCartney went 1-4 on the day – but grabbed his lone hit at just the right moment, knocking a single into left to begin the top of the first. McCartney advanced to second on a sac bunt by Mike Gilman, then moved on to third when Bernier lofted a ball into right and reached on an error. Greenlaw, the Eagles’ cleanup man, next stepped to the plate and delivered a tense, eight-pitch at-bat the culminated in his fateful double, a blast into deep left.
The shot, of course, brought home both McCartney and Bernier, and all of a sudden, Windham was off to a stronger offensive start than perhaps they were accustomed to.
“I hate making excuses, but I think one of the biggest reasons is yesterday was our fourth practice outside and we’ve played, now, 10 games,” Artes said of his boys’ early season struggles, especially at the plate. “It’s kind of like summer baseball, except in summer it’s warmer.”
The Eagles’ defense, Bryce Afthim on the mound, downed the Mustangs 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first on a pair of groundouts (5-3 and 6-3) and a foul flyout to first. Windham went 1-2-3 themselves in the top of the second, however; not until the third would they strike again. Gilman scored that run, dashing all the way to second on a Mustang’s fielding error after skittering a grounder down the leftfield line. Gilman zipped to third on a Bernier grounder single into center and reached home on a Greenlaw single volley in the same direction. 3-0.
“Our top of the order got runners on,” Artes said, “had some big RBIs in that first inning for sure. We got two there, added another one in the third – same thing, just getting the ball in play, putting some pressure on their defense. We did a good job, overall, getting that lead and keeping it.”
The Eagles added their fourth in the top of the fourth: Nine-hitter Kobe Lauzier singled to the leftfield fence and eventually tagged home again on a Bernier grounder single to center.
Massabesic finally got on the board in their next ups, however, scoring two. Afthim walked Ethan Daigneault to give the Mustangs their first real bit of breathing room; Daigneault stole second during Noah McGrath’s at-bat and advanced to third on McGrath’s deep double to center. Three hitters later, both boys raced home on a bouncy Simon Roberts single past second base and into the outfield.
“Bryce was good enough today,” Artes said of his young starter—Afthim is just a sophomore. “He had the velocity he needed to get the fastball by hitters, but he also had, the splitter was working pretty well, as an off-speed pitch. Curveball wasn’t real sharp, and his changeup was nonexistent, so he was really relying on those two pitches.
“He didn’t pitch well against Westbrook last week. The week before, he pitched against Marshwood and had probably the best outing I’ve ever seen him have. He was really sharp in that game, had command of three pitches.”
The Eagles would add another in the seventh – Bernier scooted to first on a drive single to center-right, then walked all the way home – but in the end, they wouldn’t really need it: Two runs proved the sum total of Massabesic’s output on the morning, and the contest fell in Windham’s win column.
Artes praised his defense. “A lot of groundball outs, and our infield made a lot of great plays today. Zach (Skillings) was phenomenal on third base; Mikey (Gilman, shortstop) made a great play that saved a run. That’s really our M.O.; we’ve got make sure we’re playing great defense if we’re not going to hit and score runs.”
Windham followed the 5-2 W over Massabesic with a 5-3 W over Deering on Tuesday, May 16. Now 5-6, the team hosts Biddeford on Thursday the 18th before traveling to Scarborough on Tuesday the 23rd.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Bryce Afthim pitched respectably against Massabesic; he wasn’t a strikeout pitcher that day, but he lured plenty of Mustangs into groundouts and flyouts.
Zach Skillings looked stalwart at third base for Windham.
Windham shortstop Mike Gilman waits on a ball, looking to sweep a tag on a Massabesic runner.
Tanner Bernier hops off third, looking for a shot at home.