AUBURN — Lewiston’s Josh Murphy did what any smart pitcher does after a rocky start — he shook it off and settled down.
The junior pitcher struck out nine batters before being relieved in the sixth inning with two outs by Cooper St. Hilaire, who helped keep a lid on Edward Little in the Blue Devils’ 9-5 victory on a chilly, rainy and wind-swept Wednesday afternoon.
“I started off really rough, but I got a few good innings in me and managed to keep the momentum going,” Murphy said. “The team did a great job hitting. They picked me up when I was down the first two innings, and from there, we just started rolling.
“(EL) came out swinging. That (third) inning was huge for them and then we ended up responding and they were making great plays in the field.”
After two quiet innings, the Red Eddies (5-3) conjured up three runs in the third with the help of two errors, a wild pitch and a walk. With the bases loaded, junior Jack Keefe ripped a two-run double and infielder Kamden Masselli brought home another run on a fielder’s choice to put EL ahead 3-0.
When the fourth inning rolled around, the frustrated Blue Devils (5-3) erupted with a five-run outburst, using a pair of errors, two hits, a passed ball and a stolen base to move ahead by two runs. Two well-placed hits by Keegan McLaughlin and Connor Wolverton helped the Blue Devils’ cause.
“I am really proud of how the kids responded after being down,” Lewiston coach Darren Hartley said. “Frankly, I don’t think Murph had great stuff today, but as we answered a little bit, he really started to get in a groove and feel much better. Those middle innings he got much better. His pitching tempo was much better.
“Again, we have a bunch of young dudes that are getting better every day. We are very excited about our maturity as we go forward. Today, they had some problems throwing strikes and we capitalized.”
Each team had five hits for the day.
Drew Smith allowed three in four innings after getting the start for EL, Campbell Cassidy didn’t give up a hit in his brief relief stint, and Patrick Anthoine was on the hook for two while finishing out the game.
Edward Little coach Dave Jordan said his team’s four errors proved costly.
“I think we were very charitable,” he said. “We had too many errors and too many walks. I take responsibility on myself that I have to prepare our guys better for the next game.
“They had a very good pitcher on the mound. I thought we had some good at-bats. We had some nice, solid contact with them. We scored some good runs against them. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to back it up in the field to help our hitters out. We gave up too many charitable runs.”
Murphy retired the side in order in the bottom of the fourth and the Blue Devils picked up where they left off in the top of the fifth. Lewiston pushed across four runs without a single hit. The Devils took advantage of an error and four walks to take a 9-3 lead.
The Red Eddies collected a run each in the fifth and seventh innings. Anthoine got on with a walk and immediately came home on Chase Martin’s RBI single in the fifth. Keefe reached on his single and came home with EL’s fifth run on Colin Merritt’s RBI double.