Late rally lifts Houlton past GSA in ‘C’ North baseball semifinal

HOULTON, Maine — A stellar pitching performance by Houlton’s Nick Perfitt was matched by the prowess of his bat Saturday as the senior helped carry Houlton to a 4-2 victory over George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill in a Class C North baseball semifinal.

No. 1 Houlton (13-3) advances to the regional championship for the second time in three years. The Shires face No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, an 8-7 winner over No. 6 Dexter at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

In advancing to the regional title game, the Shires beat two teams — Orono and GSA — that have been tough matchups for Houlton in recent years.

“GSA is a heck of a team, well-coached, their guys don’t make mistakes,” said Houlton coach Jim Castner. “It feels good to come out of here with the win today.”

Saturday’s semifinal had all the makings of a classic pitchers’ duel as both Perfitt and GSA hurler Ben Cole were sharp on the mound.

Houlton first baseman Isia Bouchard makes a nifty stretch, but GSA baserunner Austin Snow beats the throw during Saturday’s Class C North semifinal. Houlton won 4-2. (Joseph Cyr)

Perfitt tossed a near complete game before exiting with two outs in the top of the seventh inning due to the 110-pitch count rule. Perfitt scattered four hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts.

Jason Collett closed out the game for Houlton, striking out the only batter he faced for the save.

“My curveball was working well today and when the ball was put in play, we made our plays (defensively),” Perfitt said. “I was a little disappointed I had to leave (the mound). But I was right at 110 pitches.”

Cole was equally sharp for the Eagles through the first five innings and finished by allowing five hits and no walks, with three strikeouts. Garrett Parker finished the game for GSA as he came on midway through the sixth inning. Parker did not allow a hit or a walk and struck out three.

Castner said he was proud of the effort his squad has put forth this season and was eager for another shot at a regional title.

“The guys have done all the hard work,” he said. “They made adjustments throughout the year.”

GSA took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning after Owen Vinall walked, stole second and scored on a single to center field by Austin Snow.

That lead was short-lived, however, as Houlton rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Collett rapped a bloop single to center and moved to second on a well-placed bunt by Isia Bouchard.

Keegan Gentle grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Bouchard out at second, leaving runners at the corners. Perfitt then helped his cause as he drilled a high fastball over the head of center fielder Vinall for a bases-clearing triple.

Snow led the No. 6 Eagles, who finish with a 12-6 record, with two singles, while Ethan Vinall, Tanner Ashley and Caden Mattson each had one single.

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