The Hall-Dale baseball field has a fence this season after several years without one, and the Bulldogs put it to good use Monday in their season opener against Oak Hill.
The Bulldogs lost 8-7, but they forced extra innings thanks to a grand slam from junior Brian Allen in the fifth inning and a solo homer by Taylor Lockhart in the bottom of the seventh.
“This year we’ve got some power hitters so I decided to have a fence,” first-year Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “We just put it up a couple of nights ago. The players who hit them out helped put it up. Maybe it was motivation for them.”
Sinclair added the team will have a fence as long as he’s the coach. There’s a permanent chain link fence in right field and a temporary snow fence from left to right center. It’s 315 feet down the line in left, 340 in the power alleys and about 360 to center. Both Allen and Lockhart hit their home runs to left center.
Junior left-hander Bobby Cumler got the start and was uncharacteristically wild, opening the game with eight straight balls. He promptly picked both runners off first base but never found his rhythm.
“He just didn’t have his command,” Sinclair said. “It was his first time on the mound (this spring) facing another team. He’s usually right in the zone.”
Sinclair expects pitching to be one of Hall-Dale’s strengths, along with hitting. He’s still figuring a couple of outfield spots since the team didn’t have any preseason games.
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Kents Hill’s regular season ends May 10 and the Huskies hope to get their seven remaining games in before the Maine Association of Independent Athletic Directors (MAISAD) playoffs begin.
They’ve played three prep schools so far and face another at home today in Gould Academy. The team has also scrimmaged a couple of high school teams. Sophomore Riley Boivin of Augusta has pitched a couple of games with a win and a loss and is expected to take the mound today. He also has a home run.
“He’s done a pretty good job,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “His velocity has been there. I don’t know that he has a feel for his off-speed pitches right now.”
Freshman Santa Takahashi of Japan has looked impressive so far, on the mound and at the plate. He pitched two scoreless innings against New Hampton and closed in the win over Hebron. He and Boivin alternate between pitcher and shortstop. He’s been more impressive at the plate, going 11 for 15 with three triples, a couple of doubles, four walks and six stolen bases.
“He’s the real deal,” Wamboldt said. “He’s someone who’s played a lot of baseball before he got here.”
In playing Bridgton Academy on Tuesday, the Huskies faced post-graduate pitcher Gehrig Schilling, son of former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling. He fanned 11 Huskies but they also collected three runs and nine hits against him.
“We swung the bat pretty well,” Wamboldt said.
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Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi is determined to get all his pitchers some work this season.
“We feel like we have a lot of arms and we want to figure out the best combination and who can do what,” Palleschi said.
The Mustangs won their season opener 8-0 against Winthrop on Wednesday as Nate Gagne, Kyle Fletcher and D.J. McHugh combined for the shutout.
Palleschi plans on using Gagne, Alex Curtis and Fletcher to start games with a group of at least four others in relief.
Monmouth has a veteran team but a new left side of the infield in sophomore Jariah Caissie at third and freshman Hunter Richardson at short. Both have looked good, Palleschi said.
Monmouth plays at Lisbon today.
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Winthrop played its first April vacation game Wednesday and it worked out poorly for the Ramblers who lost 8-0 to Monmouth and played without a key player.
“This is the first time in 17 years I’ve played in April vacation,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “We’ve always played 14 games.”
The Ramblers are playing 16 this season and next year that number will be mandatory in the Mountain Valley Conference. Winthrop played without catcher Dakota Carter who was away on a family trip. That meant shortstop Jared Hanson had to catch. When Hanson came in to pitch, freshman Matt Ingram went behind the plate.
Fortin has settled on a starting rotation that includes Hanson, junior Ben Allen and freshman Jacob Hickey.
The Ramblers were scheduled to play at Mt. Abram on Friday but that game was postponed because the Roadrunners’ field wasn’t ready yet.