PARIS — Ty LeBlond found himself in a position that batters dreams of — tie game, bottom of the seventh, bases loaded, two outs, full count.
What he did next probably didn’t follow the dream scenario, though it ended with a favorable result for the Oxford Hills senior.
A bloop infield hit was enough for the speedy LeBlond to beat the throw to first, and the Vikings beat Edward Little 6-5 in a Class A North baseball clash Monday at Tim Bryant Memorial Field.
“You always dream of those moments,” LeBlond said. “Maybe not quite the hit you wanted, but it gets the job done, so it was cool. I’ve never had a walk-off before, so it was great.”
The Vikings (8-1) had loaded the bases with no outs, but Red Eddies (6-4) freshman reliever Drew Smith got the next two batters out on a shallow fly-out and a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch. That brought LeBlond, the Vikings’ leadoff hitter and the “perfect person for that walk-off,” according to Vikings coach Shane Slicer, to the plate.
“He’s playing good baseball, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” Slicer said. “Obviously he placed it pretty damn well because he didn’t get a hold of it. But his fight has been there and he’s a good leader.”
Oxford Hills freshman Hunter Tardiff led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, fellow freshman Brady Truman was hit by a pitch and junior Isaiah Oufiero drew a walk on a full count.
Edward Little coach Dave Jordan called it a pressure situation that his team can learn from.
“We almost got out of it. And I thought our guys backed (Drew) up great with it,” Jordan said. “And to have a little ball that falls in the middle of the infield to win the game, I mean, that’s well-placed, great for them. But I thought he didn’t have hard contact and it was just a ball that fell in, and that’s baseball.”
The Red Eddies found themselves in another difficult situation earlier in the game. In the first inning, the Vikings quickly struck for two runs to go up 2-0. LeBlond and Ethan Cutler started the bottom of the first with a single and a double, respectively, and Cutler drove in LeBlond before coming home himself two batters later on Wyatt Knightly’s RBI groundout. Edward Little senior starter Clay Robbins eventually got out of the jam with the first of his seven strikeouts.
“After that first inning I thought he had fantastic stuff,” Jordan said.
Robbins allowed three hits in the first but only two the rest of the way, including Nicholas Binette’s one-out single in the sixth. Robbins then struck out Matthew Doucette on a 3-2 pitch to complete his outing after reaching the maximum pitch limit.
“We had our opportunities, we had some guys in scoring position, but he settled in pretty good. I liked our approach at the bat, though,” Slicer said. “I mean, we got his pitch count up and he had to come out of the game. So we were maybe too patient, but at the same time he’s a good pitcher and we’d rather face somebody else if we could, no matter who that would be.”
Patrick Anthoine came on in relief. The Vikings stayed patient, drawing three straight walks to score one run. Knightly then singled in two more to tie the game 5-5, but the Red Eddies got the third out on the play when Andrew Merrill tried making it from first to third after a throw home.
“Tying it up was absolutely crucial because I knew they were going to go to Anthoine eventually. He’s tough to hit,” Slicer said. “I mean, both (Anthoine and Smith) were a little bit erratic today. That helped us out, some walks. But they’re both good pitchers.”
The Red Eddies went from trailing by two runs to leading by three in a three-inning stretch from the fourth to the sixth.
“Once you get through that first time through the order, then we started timing it up,” Jordan said. “So it just takes a little bit. And the guys were starting to see the ball better and get better contact.”
Jack Keefe led off the fourth with a single and later scored on Chase Martin’s two-out single against Vikings starter Kolby Brown. Alex Avila led off the fifth with another single, then two batters later Anthoine singled to knock out Brown, who gave up seven hits and no walks in his outing.
Aiden Gonzalez greeted reliever Ethan Cutler with a go-ahead, two-run single — after Avila was able to scamper back to third on a nearly catastrophic squeeze attempt during the at-bat — that gave the Red Eddies a 3-2 lead.
“They had timely hits,” LeBlond said. “(Gonzalez) hit a nice line drive with (runners on) second and third. They’re a good team. They’re going to do that. You’re not going to be up every game. You’re going to have to come back sometimes and that’s what we did.”
Two errors in the sixth led to two more Edward Little runs — both coming in on a bunt by Martin — that extended the lead to 5-2.