Transfers have boosted the pitching staffs this season at Oak Hill and Richmond.
Oak Hill, which is competing in the Mountain Valley Conference this spring, returned a pretty good nucleus of arms for first-year coach Matt Bray, but the Raiders received a huge boost when senior Ryan Riordan transferred from Lisbon to the Wales school.
In his varsity debut, the right-hander threw a no-hitter against Madison in which he walked a couple of batters and struck out 11.
“He throws four pitches for strikes,” Bray said. “He relies mostly on a two-seamer, a slider and a changeup. He throws hard.”
Bray said shortstop Brady Dion made two strong defensive plays behind Riordan to help preserve his no-hitter. Riordan will normally be part of a three-man rotation with Parker Asselin and Jared Glasier.
The Raiders will still compete for a playoff berth in Western Maine Class B this season although they play in the predominantly Class C MVC. They won all of their preseason games against Class A and B competition by a combined score of 34-5.
Meanwhile, brothers Mike and Eddie Stewart transferred from Wiscasset to Richmond last fall and both have made an impact on the school’s soccer and basketball teams. Their influence has continued for the baseball team as each pitched a winning end of a doubleheader against Vinalhaven on Saturday.
Eddie, a senior, struck out 10 and allowed three hits in an 6-0 win in the opener.
“Eddie has a lot of control,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said. “He just pounded the zone. The kids played great behind him. Somebody out there that throws strikes, it keeps everybody involved.”
Mike, a freshman, allowed two hits and went the distance as the Bobcats won 12-2 in the second game, called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
“Mike looked good, too,” Gardner said. “Threw strikes and let the defense work. “
Gardner mixed and matched many of his infielders, using Colin Acord and Curtis Anderson at third and alternating the Stewart brothers at short while Cameron Emmons played second and Gage Myrick first. Randy Moody and Tyler Soucy split the games behind the plate. Among them the infield committed just one error in two games, a fact Gardner attributed to his pitchers’ control.
“A lot of errors come when infielders are waiting for something to happen,” he said.
Eddie Stewart, Myrick and Moody were the key hitters for the Bobcats although Gardner said “The whole team put the ball in play.”
Richmond played Kents Hill in a scrimmage Wednesday and has a day off Friday since Rangeley doesn’t have a team this year.
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Winthrop opened its season with a 12-2 win against Mountain Valley in which the Ramblers banged out 15 hits. The team has just 13 players, one senior and no junior varsity program this year.
“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “Jared Hanson gave us a solid outing on the mound.”
The junior right-hander struck out two and issued one walk, mixing a curve and changeup with his fastball.
“He tried to stay away from the middle of the plate,” Fortin said. “All three of our pitchers have to do that.”
The Ramblers, who had a bye Wednesday, play at Telstar on Friday. Sophomore left-hander Ben Allen is expected to start.
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In the long run, Messalonskee High School baseball coach Ray Bernier thinks last week’s 10-0 loss at Hampden will be good for the Eagles.
“We got our butts kicked up there. The kid (Matt Palmer) pitched well. That’s the first time we actually got to see some good pitching, up to that point,” Bernier said after Wednesday’s 5-3 win over Skowhegan. “I’m glad we saw them early. Let them see what’s going to be coming if they’re not prepared for it.”
Despite returning six players who played in the Class A state title game last season, the defending champion Eagles are still very young. The starting lineup against Skowhegan included six sophomores and a freshman.
“We’re still trying to find our own chemistry, our own identity,” Bernier said.
On Wednesday, the Eagles tried a different approach at the plate in an effort to break out of a team-wide hitting slump. Rather than work deep into counts, Messalonskee hitters tried to attack if they saw a good pitch early. They finished with nine hits in a 5-3 win.
“I’d like to think it paid off. They started attacking the ball a little bit sooner,” Bernier said. “We’ve been over patient, and then we let the good ones go. All of a sudden, we’re swinging at the bad ones. We decided that hey, if we liked that first one, we’re going to get a good cut at it. Otherwise, then we’ll work the count, so we won’t be back on our heels.”
Now 3-1, the Eagles play at Mt. Blue on Friday.
Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638