WESTBROOK—The Eagles jumped ahead of the Blazes early in the game on Monday afternoon, April 30: Caleb McCartney, Bryce Afthim, Chris Naylor and Brady Afthim all scored in the top of the first. Windham showed consistency too, and ultimately cruised past Westbrook 9-3.
“It was pretty much just ‘pass the bat’: next hitter, next hitter, next hitter,” Windham head coach Cody Dube said of his boys’ taking the early lead. “Before you know it, bases loaded and Ryan Sargent came up with a big hit.”
The Blazes looked strong to open the outing, with pitcher Matt Eugley luring Windham lead-off hitter Nate Plummer into a 6-3 ground out. Westbrook shortstop Max Dobkowski and first baseman Jack Stone completed the play crisply, suggesting good things were in the offing.
The Eagles, though, begged to differ. McCartney followed Plummer to the plate, and promptly drove a single into left. McCartney advanced 90 feet on Bryce Afthim’s grounder single to second – Westbrook baseman Lucas Knapton dove and stopped the hurtling ball, but couldn’t get upright quick enough to deliver it anywhere.
McCartney scored and Afthim advanced when Naylor grounded to third and the baseman there fired it too high for Stone to grab. Brady Afthim then walked on.
Bryce Afthim scored, as did Naylor, on a huge Sargent double to the left-field fence; Brady Afthim simultaneously scooted around to third. He raced home again shortly – on a passed ball during Garrett Peeples’s at-bat.
“It’s nice to see,” Dube said of the offensive explosion. “First couple games, we had guys in that position, and [the big hit] just didn’t come. These guys hit really well in the cage, and they’ve had a good ‘indoor season,’ I guess I’ll call it. It’s good to see it play out on the field.”
Westbrook responded in the bottom of the first, but not in a big enough way. Knapton kicked things off with a shallow chop single to right field. Caden Dow stepped into the box next, grounding to third. It should’ve been a routine out for the Eagles, perhaps, but Dow reached first safely when the Windham third baseman bobbled the ball before he could throw it. Kyle Champagne then sac-flied to right, pushing Knapton to third and Dow to second.
Knapton arrived home on a Eugley single to left-center, and Dow on a Liam Cooledge double into right.
4-2. After that, though, the Blazes’ bats dried up until the bottom of the seventh. Meanwhile, Windham continued to score. The Eagles added two in the top of the third: Peeples scored from all the way from first on a William Brooks blast to deep right, and Brooks scored on a Plummer grounder that resulted in a Blazes error at shortstop.
Windham piled on one more in the top of the fourth, too. Naylor scored it, rounding from first on a Brady Afthim double. Finally, the Eagles tallied another pair in the top of the fifth. McCartney logged the first of them and Bryce Afthim the second, both on a Brady Afthim single grounder into left.
“[It was just] keep the game-plan the same,” Dube said, asked about the Eagles’ consistent attack. “The first inning, we got that big inning, and when you get that, it was almost like a big relief for everybody, because we hadn’t scored yet this year, in our first two games.”
“You get that four-run inning in the first, it’s much easier to chip away,” Dube said. “You can maybe steal, hit and run – just play for one, rather than playing for that big inning.”
Westbrook threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with Knapton, Champagne and Eugley, but couldn’t get a man around. Their sixth ups began in promising fashion as well, with Derek Klement driving a single over the outstretched glove of a leaping Bryce Afthim at short. Still, Klement never made it home.
Finally, in the bottom of the seventh, Westbrook struck once more: Knapton walked on and eventually crossed home on a Eugely infield pop-up that led to an Eagles error at second base. Still, the Blazes were too far behind, and couldn’t assemble a rally. 9-3 the final.
Brooks started on the mound for the Eagles, and got the win. “This was his first start,” Dube said. “He pitched awesome. He has a very advanced feel for four pitches for a kid his age.” Brooks is a sophomore.
Dube also applauded McCartney and Sargent. “Caleb put the barrel on the ball a couple times. Ryan had the big hit.”
The win bumped Windham to 1-2. The Eagles opened the spring with a 2-0 loss to Kennebunk, and followed that up with an 8-0 loss to South Portland. The team faced off at Falmouth on Tuesday the 30th.
Westbrook, meanwhile, slid to 0-2. The Blazes succumbed 7-1 to Marshwood in their first outing. They traveled to Bonny Eagle on Tuesday the 30th.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Jamie Louko stepped in to relieve starter William Brooks.
Kyle Champagne mans third base for the Blazes.
Lucas Knapton battles at the plate.
Westbrook shortstop Max Dobkowski (11) and second baseman Lucas Knapton (5) combine to catch Windham runner Jamie Louko out.
Ben Childs grabs a ball for the Eagles.
Westbrook SS Max Dobkowski scoops up a ground ball.
Ryan Sargent dives back to first.
Caleb McCartney fires from his post at second over to first.
Bryce Afthim manned short for the Eagles in the win.
Westbrooker Jack Stone takes a cut at the plate.
Matt Eugley started on the mound for Westbrook.
Caden Dow inches off third for Westbrook.
Windham sophomore William Brooks pitched a strong game vs. the Blazes.
Jack Pecoraro reels in a fly ball.