WINSLOW — Pitching in a close game in April can only help in June. That’s the way Winslow High School’s Dylan Hapworth approached Wednesday’s season opener against rival Waterville. These teams met in the Eastern Class B championship game last season, with Winslow winning a close game, and at Nivison Diamond, the result was another Winslow win. The Black Raiders scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break open a close game and take a 6-1 victory.
“It’s good to have it in the beginning of the season. In midseason, you have those close games. You’re going to want that experience,” Hapworth said.
After a shaky first inning, Hapworth was dominant. The hard-throwing junior went six innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Hapworth entered the season with a 29 inning scoreless streak, but that’s where the streak ended. Dan Pooler took a leadoff walk for the Purple Panthers, stole second base, and went to third on a passed ball. After a walk to Aidan FitzGerald, Kaleb Kane hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Pooler. Waterville had a 1-0 lead, but it was the only time the Panthers got a runner past first base.
“I thought Dylan did a really good job today. He didn’t lose control,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said. “We thought we had a little edge on him in the first inning.”
Hapworth and Winslow coach Jesse LaCasse attributed the pitcher’s control issues in the first inning to season-opening jitters. Hapworth didn’t walk another batter, relying primarily on his fastball..
“I really only threw five or six curveballs. I’m pretty confident with my fastball. I didn’t feel like I had to throw a curveball,” Hapworth said. “Plus it’s early. Throwing curveballs less helps the arm later.”
“I think he was trying to overthrow. He settled down on the mound on a chilly day and threw a great game,” LaCasse said.
The Black Raiders tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, when Ryan Dubois singled to score Alex Berard. Winslow took the lead in the fifth, when Taylor Roy and Hapworth hit back-to-back doubles with two outs. The pitch Hapworth drilled to the left-center gap was an inside fastball, one of the few mistakes made by Waterville starter A.J. Godin, who allowed eight hits with five strikeouts in six-plus innings.
“We got (Hapworth) out by keeping it off the plate. We got inside and he killed it,” Sawyer said.
Winslow scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Bobby Chenard, a fielder’s choice from Roy, and a two-run error. Four of Winslow’s eight hits were doubles.
“We really started to hit the ball well on Monday, and we’ve only been outside for a week. The guys, they’ve been swinging wood up to today, and I finally let them pull out the metal. Many of them swung wood. They stayed back and they hit the ball well. It was great to see,” LaCasse said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242