WINDHAM—Tyler Thornton crossed home in the bottom of the second – Windham started hot – to put the Eagles out front of the visiting Scots 3-0 on Thursday afternoon, May 20. Out front is where they would stay, too: Bonny Eagle managed a couple of slick runs late the in contest, but couldn’t pull even with their hosts, let alone overtake them.
“We did a really nice job in the first and second inning of situational baseball,” Windham head coach Cody Dube said.
3-2 the final.
Windham rounded two runs in the bottom of the first, then rounded a crucial third run – the gamewinner – an inning later. Thornton led off in that stretch, walking onto base; he moved to second on a single grounder into left. Nate Plummer then sac bunted, shuffling Thornton to third, and putting him within sniffing distance of home. He soon scored on another sac.
“We got first and second, no outs, nice sacrifice bunt by Nate Plummer, and then sac fly,” Dube said. “That’s as good situational baseball as you can get. So the guys executed early, we just didn’t really continue to put pressure on. Sometimes I think that happens in high school, when you score early. There’s kind of a tendency to relax.”
The third, the fourth and the fifth all passed scorelessly; in the top of the sixth, though, Bonny Eagle tore into their deficit. Humphrey kicked things off, clubbing a ball toward third and beating out the throw to land safely on first. Ethan Hamilton took to the batter’s box next, and walked. Two men on.
The two following Scots to take swings both ended their ups in outs, making for two men on and very little wiggle room. If BE wanted to capitalize on this opportunity – and they needed to – they had to play their cards very carefully.
They did: Both Humphrey and Hamilton took off running before Jack Bean, BE’s next batter, even unwound into a swing. Good thing, too, because Bean made solid contact, sending a hard grounder into centerfield. Humphrey and Hamilton – already at full-speed – rounded to home on the hit, slicing Windham’s advantage to 3-2.
“Whenever there’s three-two, two outs, force situation, you go,” Hession said. “And that’s what they did. It helped us get both runs across, gave us a chance to do something in the seventh.”
But Windham doused the Scots’ fire in the top of the seventh. Bryce Afthim – he’d pitched all game for the Eagles – departed the mound before he could face BE’s last batters, but his similarly skilled younger brother, Brady, relieved him. Brady Afthim knocked the Scots off one-two-three with a fly-out to center and a pair of strikeouts, capping Windham’s win.
“He’s been awesome,” Dube said of Bryce Afthim, who finished with 10 Ks. “His tempo his quick, puts a lot pressure on the hitters, throws strikes, mixes up the pitches. You can’t really say anything bad about his performances this year. The Bonny Eagle hitters battled. Long at-bats, lot of foul balls, which can be tough on a pitcher, but Bryce still managed to get through six.”
“Those two brothers are good,” Hession said of Afthim and Afthim. “You’ve got be on to get those guys.”
BE needed to win the game to reach the postseason; the Scots started the spring at 7-1, but then fell into a slump, hard. The team lost their next eight straight to finish 7-9 and, as indicated, just a hair’s breadth outside the bracketing. In 13th, they trailed No. 12 Portland by less than five Heal Points.
“We lost eight straight,” Bonny Eagle head coach Rick Hession said. “We faced some good pitchers, some good teams, played with a little bit less consistency at the bat. We had to win to get in. It’s frustrating, because everyone can beat everybody in this league.”
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t find a way to get it done, last eight games of the year. Couldn’t get everything clicking at the same time. It felt like, all year, if the bats were going, we weren’t fielding great. We pitched really well throughout the course of the year. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get to play in a playoff game.”
Meanwhile, Windham advanced to 9-6 with the victory. The Eagles recorded another triumph, 3-0 over Cheverus, the following day to close their regular schedule at 10-6; they entered the postseason on Tuesday, June 4 with a home bout vs. the Bulldogs, which the ultimately lost 5-3.
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Caleb McCartney whips a ball toward first.
Cam Phinney rips a pitch toward the plate.
Bryce Afthim fires a pitch toward home.
Bonny Eagle outfielder Khyler Hart chases an incoming ball.
Noah Lariviere charges towards an incoming ball.
Jake Humphrey jumps off second towards third.
Ethan Hamilton dives after a ground ball.