DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Here’s a pretty good recipe for victory at any level of baseball — shutout pitching, a 15-hit attack and three double plays on defense.
The Foxcroft Academy Ponies found it to be a near-perfect blend Wednesday afternoon, riding Abe Simpson’s four-hitter and an eight-run second inning to a 10-0, six-inning victory over Hermon in a clash of likely Eastern Maine Class B contenders.
“I really liked the way we swung the bats, and defensively we were much better than we’ve been recently and made several big plays and several heady plays,” said Foxcroft coach Mark Chevalier.
“They’re a team that we expect to be near the top, so we knew coming in that if we want to be near the top, we need to win games like this. We came out fired up, and it showed,” he said.
That enthusiasm was most pronounced in the bottom of the second inning when the Ponies (6-1) sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs on eight hits.
Senior catcher Brooks Law had a two-run double and an infield single during the uprising against Hermon right-hander Tyler Beaton. Nick Decker added a two-run single, Clay Carroll and Eli Olson each had an RBI double, and Simpson and Chandler Rockwell had run-producing singles to fuel the rally.
It’s an outburst that may have had its origin a day earlier when Foxcroft erupted for 15 runs during the sixth inning of its 28-5 victory at Piscataquis of Guilford.
“We started off a little rough [Monday], but we put our bats together and got some good hits, and no doubt in my mind it carried over, and we still had that same energy today,” said Law.
Simpson preserved the lead with an efficient pitching performance. The junior right-hander struck out three batters and walked two while requiring just 64 pitches — 40 for strikes — to secure the abbreviated, complete-game victory.
“I try to keep my pitch count low,” said Simpson, who complemented his fastball with an effective curve from the game’s outset. “I just throw my pitch, let them hit the ball and put it in play, and then my defense makes the plays, and it helps out more.”
Simpson also picked off a Hermon baserunner as part of a Foxcroft defense that committed an error in each of the first three innings but rebounded to turn an equal of number of double plays. Law also picked off another Hermon runner from behind the plate.
Carroll added an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to make it 9-0 before Billy Brock ended the game an inning later with a bases-loaded single that delivered Alex Hung from third base to give Foxcroft its 10-run cushion.
Hermon (2-2) had its best scoring chance in the top of the third when Matt Leach hit a one-out single to left, went to second base on an errant pickoff throw and to third on Beaton’s groundout to second.
But the threat ended as Foxcroft third baseman Nate Church made a diving catch off a Nick Guerrette line drive seemingly ticketed for left field to end the inning.