High school baseball teams began flexing their muscles this weekend as many got outside for the first time. Defending Class B state champion Waterville played three games during the weekend, beginning with a single game Friday at Old Orchard Beach.

“It’s the first time we saw live pitching,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said. “We hit the ball pretty well.”

On Saturday, the Purple Panthers hosted Lawrence and Presque Isle on their own field.

“It’s in great shape,” Sawyer said. “Once the sun’s on it, it dries really well.”

The Lawrence scrimmage matched a pair of aces in Waterville’s Kyle Bishop and Lawrence’s Shawn Russell. Both pitched three innings.

“We had a great scrimmage,” Sawyer said. “I think they’re going to be a surprise team.”

Waterville returns two of the top pitchers in Class B in Bishop and Tim Locke. The search for a No. 3 starter has come down to J.T. Whitten, Tyler Bouchard and newcomer Jake Porfino. Both Whitten and Bouchard threw fairly well Saturday, according to Sawyer.

Sawyer is still in the process of building arm strength and is currently keeping pitch counts to around 50. Going five or six innings in a game is “probably two or three weeks away,” he said. Waterville opens its season April 22 at Winslow.

* * *

First-year Winslow coach Kyle Gunzinger got a look his team for the first time outside when the Black Raiders played a doubleheader Saturday at South Portland.

“You could tell we hadn’t been outside much,” Gunzinger said. “Our hitters were a little behind in their timing.”

Gunzinger has three experienced pitchers returning in Jordan Holt, Zach Carey and Donald Camp but Gunzinger would like to develop seven or eight to relieve pressure on young arms. They may have added on in senior catcher John McCabe who took a turn on the mound Saturday.

“He looked very good,” Gunzinger said. “He threw three solid innings, no runs.”

The Black Raiders will host a number of teams this week in preseason games, weather permitting, beginning Tuesday with Skowhegan, followed by Erskine and Brewer.

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Erskine’s doubleheader Saturday at Gardiner was postponed due to a wet field. The Eagles are even further away from playing on their home field.

“We had a four feet of snow in front of our dugout,” Erskine coach Lars Jonassen said. “The kids were able to chip away at it and I was snowblowing (the field),”

The Eagles are scheduled to play exhibition games Tuesday against Lincoln Academy and Thursday at Winslow. They head south for the weekend for a Friday game against York and doubleheader on Saturday against Marshwood in southern New Hampshire.

“Our trip down south has been a Godsend,” Jonassen said.

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Cony played a pair of tough opponents Saturday, meeting both Bangor and Cheverus at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

“They went OK,” Cony coach Don Plourde said of the scrimmages. “Obviously, Bangor’s pretty good and Cheverus, too. They both can hit the ball and pitch. They’re both strong teams.”

Plourde is still looking for a starting rotation and relief corps from a group of six or seven pitchers, all of whom threw Saturday. The Rams also used three different catchers and rotated their outfield.

Plourde said his pitchers are currently one a count of 45 pitches and estimates it will be a couple of more weeks before they’re able to throw five or six innings.

“We had a bunch that threw this winter,” he said. “That helps out.”

The Rams are scheduled to host three teams this week on Morton Field. Plourde helped out last fall when volunteers completed a drainage project over about half the field.

“Actually, the outfield is bone dry,” Plourde said. “It was a lot of work but it paid off.”

Cony is scheduled to host Messalonskee on Tuesday but may not get that in due to rain early in the week. They’re also scheduled to play Lincoln Academy on Wednesday and a doubleheader against Maranacook on Saturday.

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As part of its home opener on the 22nd against Mt. Blue, Lawrence High School will honor longtime Babe Ruth coach George Taylor.

Taylor, 87, coached youth baseball in Fairfield for 50 years, beginning in 1956. His 1990 13-year old Babe Ruth team won the state championship.

“I think I’ve got a few more good years of coaching in me,” Taylor said after his retirement in 2005, “but you have to stop sometime. It was a good year. We had a good, balanced team.”

Taylor will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and he’ll be presented with a plaque recognizing his decades of service to Fairfield PAL and Lawrence baseball.

The game is set to start at 1 p.m.

Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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