Monday, May 5, 2014

Windham baseball kicks off season with a win - By Jim Beers

The Windham Eagles varsity baseball team kicked off the 2014 season on the road in Sanford Friday. Sanford came in with a 1-0 record, after beating Portland earlier in the week. Hooking up in an immediate pitcher's duel, Windham's Spencer Hodge and Sanford's Eddie Machette both set the tone early on the mound.

Machette, a lanky right-hander, kept the Eagle's offense off-balance thru the first four innings, not allowing a hit. Hodge was equal to the task, no-hitting Sanford thru five complete innings. Windham's bats broke out in the fifth, as Zach Alpern hit a leadoff double into the left-center gap. Eagle coach Brody Artes inserted Josh Dugas into the game to pinch run for Alpern, but Dugas was immediately picked off at second base. Next up, Tanner Laberge drew a walk, as Machette was showing signs of fatigue. 

Alex Loftis followed with a double to put runners on second and third, with one out. Andrew Whiting then laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that surprised everyone on Sanford's defense. Laberge came in to score, Machette's throw to first was wide and rolled down the right field line, allowing Loftis to score from second base, making it 2-0 Eagles. After a passed ball moved Whiting to third, Ethan Petty hit a RBI sacrifice fly to give Windham a 3-run cushion. "Great bunt by Andrew,” said Artes, “we won’t be scoring a ton of runs this year, so we have to take advantage wherever we can." Jack Butts followed with a single, chasing Sanford starter Machette from the game. 

Meanwhile, Hodge kept rolling on the hill, not allowing Sanford to put anything together offensively. After two straight singles to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Sanford, Hodge settled down and ended the threat by striking out the next three batters, giving him a total of nine outs on the afternoon. Loftis came on for the save, striking out two of the batters he faced, giving Windham a 3-0 victory. 

Offensively, Windham was led by Alpern and Loftis, with a double apiece, while Butts added a single. Whiting's squeeze bunt proved to be the momentum swing. The Eagles defense made the plays behind starter and winner, Hodge, who went six complete, allowing two hits, walking three to go along with those nine strikeouts. 

"This was a very good win for us,” said an excited Coach Artes after the game. “They (Sanford) had a big win over Portland earlier in the week, so we knew we were in for a dogfight today. Spencer was dealing, his curve was excellent…kept getting sharper and sharper as he went along." 

The Eagles get right back at it on Tuesday, this time traveling to Thornton Academy. "It's one game at a time for us, we need to continue to play error-less defense to be successful," said Artes.

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