GARDINER — Dennis Meehan made it easy for his teammates in their season opener Wednesday.

The Gardiner Area High School senior pitched a two-hitter and struck out nine to lead the Tigers to an 11-1 win against Lincoln Academy that was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.

Making the transition from closer last season to starter this year, Meehan threw an economical 69 pitches and didn’t walk a batter.

“Not too bad,” Meehan said of him arm after the game. “It was a little sore once I got going.”

Meehan hit a slight bump in the fourth inning when Brett Cowan doubled down the line in right with one out and scored on a base hit through the right side by Wally Morris. By that time, though, his teammates had built a 6-0 lead. The Tigers finished with nine hits. eight of those coming from the top five batters in the order.

“The last scrimmage we had we kind of struggled up at Lawrence,” leadoff hitter Frank Chepke said. “I told the guys to relax today, just find their pitch and hit the ball.”

Chepke set the tone for his teammates when he opened the Gardiner first with an infield single and stole second. He scored the first of three runs on a single by Hunter Belanger. Ian Lane capped the inning with a two-run single to right. Chepke singled and scored in the two-run second inning and walked and scored in the five-run fifth.

“We work real hard on hitting the ball the other way,” Gardiner coach Chris McLaughlin said. “All of our extra base hits were center or opposite field. It’s nice to see what we work on in practice turn up in a game.”

Chepke, Meehan and Lane finished with two hits apiece and scored seven runs. Lane doubled off the fence in left in the third inning while Jensen Orewiler, hitting second in the order, doubled home a run in the second.

The Eagles were victimized by walks and errors. Junior left-hander AJ Oliver threw hard but labored through a couple of long innings, while reliever Travis Creamer struggled with his control. Lincoln committed four errors and allowed a Gardiner runner to tag up and score on a popup to first base. It may not have made any difference with Meehan on the mound.

“He’s very, very good,” Lincoln coach Ryan Ball said. “I don’t believe they’ll be many teams that beat him.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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