GARDINER — Throwing strikes is every baseball coach’s remedy for an ailing pitcher.
So far this season, Gardiner coach Chris McLaughlin hasn’t had to worry about Josh McKelvey. The sophomore right-hander throws strikes.
Monday, he walked two and allowed two hits to lead the Tigers to an 11-0 win against Leavitt in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B game called after five innings due to the mercy rule. Gardiner is 6-4, Leavitt is 4-6.
McKelvey (2-2) has gone the distance in all four of his outings this season, walking seven batters in 25 innings. His two losses have come to unbeaten Winslow, including a 1-0 heartbreaker last week.
“Every game is close for us,” McKelvey said. “I’ve just got to keep my head up and throw strikes.”
McKelvey’s teammates gave him a three-run cushion in the first inning against Leavitt’s Josh Bunker. The Hornets and Bunker (2-1) beat the Tigers last month, but this wasn’t the senior right-hander’s day. He lasted just two innings, giving up seven runs while walking five and allowing five hits.
“He was first-team all-conference last year,” Leavitt coach Dave Bochtler said. “He obviously didn’t have his stuff today.”
While McKelvey breezed through the first two innings, throwing just 19 pitches, Bunker struggled and threw 71. The Tigers stuck in some timely hits, too. Dennis Meehan and Josh Mashke singled home runs in the first inning while Jensen Orewiler singled home a pair in the second and Hunter Belanger added another RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
“I think it’s all about energy,” McKelvey said. “When our energy’s up and we’re all having a good time, having fun playing baseball, then I think we’re going to win most of the games we play.”
McKelvey ran into a little trouble in the third when Julian Kirouac led off with a walk, stole second and moved to third on Brian Bedard’s infield hit. When the Hornets tried a double steal, Gardiner catcher Jensen Orewiler threw to second base with Zach Farrin taking the throw and cutting down Kirouac at the plate.
The Tigers put the game away with four runs in the fourth, taking advantage of three walks by reliever Mitchell Davis and run-scoring hits from Mashke and Brad Weston. Meehan had two hits and scored three runs while Mashke had two hits and drove in two.
“The walks helped us and we’ve been working on staying back on the baseball,” McLaughlin said. “We were on our front foot the first time we saw them. We prepared a little bit better, we hit better.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638