Ponies tame Tigers with 16-7 season opening day victory

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — It seemed the early season confrontation between last year’s Eastern Maine Class B champions, Foxcroft Academy, and regional Class C runner-up, Dexter, was over almost before it began. Foxcroft scored eight runs in the top of the first inning before Dexter was able to record their first out. The Ponies tallied nine first-inning runs in total aided by six walks, two errors and one hit batsman.

sp-nomercy-dc-po-17Observer photo/Bill Pearson

    SPRING BASEBALL — The cold, early season weather often results in pitchers having difficulty throwing strikes. Dexter pitcher Brandon Spratt encountered this problem in the first inning on April 18 pitching against Foxcroft Academy. Spratt walked five of the first six batters he faced as Foxcroft scored nine times in the first inning. The Ponies won 16-7 in their season opener against Dexter.

    Dexter’s pitching was so erratic, the Ponies didn’t record their first hit until leadoff hitter Caleb Richard knocked a two-run single during his second at-bat of the first inning. Ryan Rebar followed with the Ponies’ second hit.
    Dexter’s starting pitcher Brandon Spratt walked five of the six batters he faced, while Spratt struggled to find the strike zone in the cold spring weather, his Foxcroft counterpart seemingly wasn’t affected by the conditions. Pony hurler Ryan Rebar pitched four innings and surrendered only one unearned run. The Foxcroft ace struck out five batters and walked one.

sp-nomercy3-dc-po-17Observer photo/Bill Pearson

    BRINGING THE HEAT — The frigid temperatures didn’t seem to bother Foxcroft hurler Ryan Rebar on April 18 as he pitched four innings, struck out five and allowed only one unearned run in his team’s opening-day win over Dexter.

    For Dexter coach Chad Graffam, the early deficit meant his team’s only objective for the rest of game was averting the mercy rule after five innings. Foxcroft built a 14-1 leading entering the top of the fifth. Forrest Law relieved Rebar which led to Dexter rallying to score six times to avoid the game’s premature end.
    “After that first inning I told them that our only objective was to play seven and that’s what they did,” Graffam said. “We were down 9-0 with only one out and at that point the game’s over. If they don’t make some substitutes maybe we even don’t score.”
    Both Dexter and Foxcroft have veteran ball clubs led by strong nucleus of returning pitchers. While Foxcroft has a stable full of healthy hurlers including Rebar, Kaleb Smith and Jesse Provost, Dexter’s bullpen is looking more like a M*A*S*H unit.
    The Tigers’ top two aces are both unable to pitch due to arm injuries. Dexter’s top pitcher, Casey Jordan, has a sore arm dating back to the end of the American Legion season last summer, while No.2 pitcher Matt Crane has a sore shoulder due to a football injury. No. 3 pitcher Dylan Graffam is healthy, but he is not in the starting rotation because he is the team’s only experienced catcher.
    “Our No. 1 and No. 2 are both on the shelf and I don’t expect them to be ready to pitch until mid-May. Dylan will be our closer until our back-up catcher returns in 10 days,” Graffam said. “We’ve got some pitchers who can throw strikes, but they don’t have a lot of experience.”
    Foxcroft pounded out 13 hits. The top Pony hitters were Richard with three singles and four runs batted in and Cameron Fadley who had three rbi with a single and a double. Forrest Law and Luke Olson  both singled twice.

sp-nomercy2-dc-po-17Observer photo/Bill Pearson

    THROWING TO SECOND — Dexter catcher Dylan Graffam attempts to throw out a Foxcroft runner stealing second base on April 18 during a game against Foxcroft Academy. Graffam was one of the few bright spots in the Tigers’ lineup during their 16-7 loss. Graffam and Crane had two hits a piece. Graffam singled twice. Crane singled and doubled.

    For Dexter, Matt Crane had a single and double, Graffam had two singles,
    Foxcroft followed-up their season opening victory with another win the next day. The Ponies defeated Piscataquis Community High School 10-0. Pitcher Kaleb Smith hurled a six inning no-hitter on April 19 against the Pirates.
    Foxcroft (2-0) opened their Class B schedule on Tuesday with a game against John Bapst in Bangor. The Ponies will host Hermon on Thursday and entertain Ellsworth on Saturday with a home doubleheader.
    Dexter (1-1) hosted Bucksport on Tuesday.
    The Tigers have road games this week against Lee on Wednesday and Penquis Valley in Milo on Friday.

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