Wednesday’s game at Morrill Field between host Rockland and visiting Belfast had the makings, from the onset, of a competitive contest, with both high school baseball teams badly needing a win to get back into the thick of the Eastern Class B playoff chase as the regular season hits the midway point.

The two squads did not disappoint, as both the Tigers and Lions put it all out on the field in a game that was tied heading into the sixth inning.

While Belfast (3-5) took a brief lead in the top of the sixth, the home-standing Tigers (3-5) responded with a four-run rally in the bottom of the frame and held on for a wild 8-6 victory.

The Lions (10.9375 Heal Points) are 13th and the Tigers (9.5703 points) 16th in Eastern Class B. Waterville (8-1, 42.3828 points) is first in the region.

On Wednesday, the Tigers jumped to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, before the Lions hung a four-spot in the top of the fifth inning to knot the score. Belfast took a brief 6-4 edge heading into the bottom of the sixth inning before Rockland mounted its come-from-behind victory by plating four runs — all with two out in the inning

Belfast, after starting the season 3-0, has lost five straight contests.

Top hitters for the Tigers included Lucas Morrill (2 doubles, single, 2 runs, RBI), Dylan Meklin (double, RBI, run), Brent Weldon (double), Derek Gustin (single, run) and Nick Beal (single).

For the Lions, Matt Steinort (double, 2 runs), Derrick Bernosky (single, 2 runs) and Josh Beal (single, run) sparked the offense.

Meklin, Morrill and Billy Joyce toed the rubber for Rockland, allowing a combined three hits and 10 walks, along with 11 strikeouts. Mike Berry and Bernosky each pitched for Belfast, scattering seven hits and four walks, while fanning 10 batters.

“It was a very exciting game,” said Rockland coach Joe Nelsen. “I was just proud to see the kids come back. A lot of times this year we’ve had leads and teams come back and go ahead, but all those runs [today] started with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. So I was very pleased and we did a good job of putting the ball in play.”

“I think it was a good job [by us] to come back,” said Belfast coach George Ross. “Obviously, you’re down by four and we were getting no-hit into the fourth inning or so. So, to come back and score those runs and put the pressure on them was good.”

Rockland got on the board in the fourth inning after Morrill scored on an error, Joe Nelsen scored on a passed ball and Nick Beal ripped a two-run single. The Lions responded in the fifth after Bernosky singled for their first hit of the game, followed by back-to-back walks issued to Steinort and Jack Davis, which loaded the bases.

Josh Beal then connected on a two-run single, Davis came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Cote Ward and Josh Beal crossed the plate on a passed ball. The Lions later took the lead in the top of the sixth after Bernosky scored on a passed ball and Steinort crossed the plate on a ball hit by Berry to make it a 6-4 game.

Then the Tigers roared back into the lead.

After the first two batters were retired in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tony Campagnoli walked to bring the top of the Rockland batting order to the plate. Gustin singled to put two runners on base, which set the table for Morrill, who ripped an RBI-double to right field to plate Campagnoli and put two runners in scoring position for the Tigers. Gustin and Morrill scored on a fielding error on a ball hit by Joe Nelsen to give Rockland back the lead at 7-6.

“In hindsight, I wish we would have made that play and we might have been a little better off,” coach Ross said. “But what’s hurt us lately is we haven’t been putting the ball in play with people in scoring position, and we’ve got to do that.”

“In baseball, things happen so quick like that,” said Nelsen. “But we’ve got a great top of the order. They’ve been hitting all year and it’s just a matter of them putting it all together.”

As the bottom of the sixth inning continued, Meklin belted a double deep into left-center field to plate Joe Nelsen and give the hosts a two-run cushion they held onto in the seventh inning.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.