PARIS — Edward Little pitcher Clay Robbins threw with the heat of a supernova and consistently hit all the sweet spots at the plate Thursday.
The Edward Little senior struck out 14 batters, which included striking out the side in order in the first and third innings, to steer the eighth-seeded Red Eddies (11-6) to a stunning 6-2 victory over top-ranked Oxford Hills in a Class A North baseball quarterfinal.
Clay’s smoldering pitching baffled the Vikings. He walked two batters before he left in the seventh inning with one out. The only time the Vikes connected with the ball with Clay on the mound is when Eli Soehren got on with a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning.
“I felt great today,” Robbins said. “I got off to a hot start, and from there, I just took off. I felt loose all day and kept going.
“The team played great. (In) back-to-back games, we played the best we have all season — and I believe in this team more than anything. I believe in our guys and we got it done today.”
Robbins helped Edward Little no-hit Mt. Blue in a 10-0 first-round win Monday.
The Red Eddies next play at fifth-seeded Bangor (12-6) in the A North semifinals Saturday.
Edward Little’s Alex Avila came in relief in the seventh inning after Robbins’ pitch count went over the limit with one out. Avila gave up two runs before settling down. The Red Eddies’ defense provided strong backing and quickly squelched the insurrection with a tidy double play to the end the game.
“It was the most complete game we’ve had this year,” Edward Little coach Dave Jordan said. “The boys were working really hard and they wanted to have another shot in the playoffs, and they did. They played really great today.
“Great opponent. We have to play a really clean game. I thought we did. We got our bats going, which haven’t been this year as much. Clay was fantastic today. (Clay) is a guy who has put a lot of time over many years into his craft, and he has been waiting for a moment like this — and he got it — and he delivered.”
Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer was hoping the Vikings would get to Robbins early and build momentum from there.
”Well, Clay pitched a great game,” he said. “He is throwing great. We didn’t have answer for him. I didn’t know how to change the approach. If we got (Robbins) out of the game early, which we had done a couple of times, then our confidence starts to soar — and it did a little bit.
“We didn’t get him out in time. We did have a little comeback there. A couple of more base runners and we get to the top of our order, and things looked a lot different. They played a great game. We made some mistakes. But the bottom line is we need to score off him.”
Oxford Hills starting pitcher Wyatt Knightly, who was tagged with the loss, held his own for the first two innings before Edward Little got on the board in the third.
Will Cassidy reached base on an error to begin the third and came home on Drew Smith’s RBI single. Smith moved to third when Jack Keefe got on got on via an error. Smith raced home for EL’s second run when Campbell Cassidy whacked an RBI single
While Robbins was frustrating the Vikings, Edward Little collected two more runs in the fourth inning. Will Cassidy doubled and scored on another Smith RBI single. Smith scored the Eddies’ fourth run after Campbell Cassidy smashed a triple.
The Red Eddies topped off their 4-0 cushion with another two runs in the fifth using three well-placed hits. Patrick Anthoine doubled and Kamden Masselli singled, and they both game home when Chase Martin ripped two-run triple to make it a 6-0 game.
Oxford Hills’ late-game heroics came in the seventh inning. Knightly was hit by a pitch and scored on Soehren’s triple. Soehren came home on a passed ball.