Katahdin’s offense too strong in baseball playoff win over CAHS
MARS HILL, Maine — The Katahdin Cougars play a high-intensity, fast-paced brand of baseball in an attempt to rattle their opponents.
After losing a pair of tight games during the regular season to the Central Aroostook Panthers, the senior laden group had some extra motivation heading into Thursday’s Class D North quarterfinal and came ready to battle.
Trailing by a run entering the top of the seventh inning, Katahdin plated seven runs off three Panther relief pitchers to earn a 14-8 victory.
“We didn’t hit well the first two times we played them, but today we did,” said Cougars’ coach Tim Thoreson. “The top of the lineup hit well but the bottom of the order also did their job and I thought our baserunning was fantastic.”
The fifth-seeded Cougars, who improved to 12-4, will travel north again to face top-ranked Fort Fairfield at 3 p.m. Saturday in the semifinal round. The No. 4 Panthers ended their season with a 9-7 record.
Katahdin displayed strong hitting up and down the lineup, getting on base consistently and working several long counts to drive CA starting pitcher Ben Thomas out of the game after 108 pitches and six innings of work.
With Thomas out, the Cougars sent 12 batters to the plate and put the game away. Pinch hitter Blake Howes opened by drawing a walk, while No. 9 batter Nick Drew singled to left field and Nate Schimkaitis drew a base on balls to load the bases.
Katahdin’s two senior leaders, who were successful against Thomas throughout the game, were due up next. Cooper Drew drilled a triple to clear the bases and Brody Guiggey was hit by a pitch to keep the rally going.
“Katahdin is a strong hitting team and our pitchers just ran into a buzzsaw in that seventh inning — it didn’t matter who we brought in,” said first-year Central Aroostook coach Mitch Ross.
Cooper Drew ended up 3 for 5 with three runs scored and four RBIs, while Guiggey went 3 for 4 with three doubles and two RBIs and also scored four times.
“Those are four-year starters who are senior leaders who have battled and worked hard and the young guys look up to them,” Thoreson said.
Bradley Hotham and John McNally came through with back-to-back doubles later in the inning for some huge insurance runs. That duo combined for five hits and three RBIs in the game.
“We are a well rounded team up and down the lineup and we play good defense,” Guiggey said. “We’ve got some phenomenal baseball players on this team and we came up here today to play ball.”
Hotham, who relieved Cooper Drew with one out and runners on base in the bottom of the sixth, set down all five Panthers he faced to gain the pitching victory.
“Hotham is a freshman who kind of fell into our lap this season,” Thoreson said. “We kept him under 20 pitches so we have him available Saturday and we have a lot of seniors who can go, so we feel confident [against Fort Fairfield].”
Colby Kingsbury, who started the seventh before being relieved by Caleb Harris and Brayden Bradbury, took the loss on the mound for the Panthers.
Harris collected two doubles and a single and drove in three runs for Central Aroostook, who were outhit 14-7.