Pitching was a question mark at the start of the season for the Waterville Senior High School baseball team, if only because of a lack of varsity experience. With the regular season nearing its close, and Waterville (11-3) once again near the top of the Eastern Class B standings, it’s apparent pitching has become one of the Panthers’ strengths.

Junior Brian Bellows and sophomore A.J. Godin emerged as a solid one-two combination for Waterville. Bellows is 4-1 with a 0.90 earned run average. In 31 innings pitched, Bellows has 28 strikeouts and just two walks. Godin is 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA. Third starter Kaleb Kane is 2-1 with a 1.70 ERA.

The Panthers have allowed just two runs over their last three games.

“They’ve really done a tremendous job,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said. “Their offspeed stuff and location has been fantastic… They’re getting stronger as the year goes on. They’re focused on hitting their spots.”

A big game was a Godin start at Morse a few weeks ago, Sawyer said. The Panthers were coming off back-to-back losses to Winslow and Maranacook.

“A.J. said, ‘Coach, I’m going to win this game.’ He threw 80 pitches in nine innings. He was very efficient,” Sawyer said.

Waterville won the game at Morse, 6-3, sparking a five game winning streak.

In his last outing, Monday against Leavitt, Bellows faced the minimum number of batters in a 6-0 win. Bellows gave up three hits, but each was wiped out by a double play. Improved defense has also been a key to Waterville’s success. Earlier this season, the Panthers averaged more than four errors per game, Sawyer said.

“In our last four games, we’ve had two (errors) total,” Sawyer said.

Waterville closes the regular season at home against Gardiner on Friday and at Mt. View on Tuesday. The Panthers, currently in second place in the regional standings, cannot catch Winslow for the top spot, but they can stay ahead of No. 3 Foxcroft Academy, the team that beat Waterville in the regional final last season, and earn a bye out of the preliminary round.

• • •

The question for Valley (7-2) in the closing days of the regular season is, can the Cavaliers hold on to the No. 1 seed in Western Class D?

“(Buckfield) beat us twice. They deserve it, no matter what the Heal points say,” Valley coach Paul Belanger said.

The Cavaliers have four games remaining, a doubleheader at home against Greater Portland Christian (0-5) on Thursday, and a doubleheader Tuesday at Vinalhaven/North Haven (0-8). All are winnable games, but none will be worth many Heal points, either.

Second place Buckfield, which swept a doubleheader against Valley last week, has a home and home against Class C Old Orchard Beach, with a doubleheader at Greenville thrown in between. The Bucks entered the week five points behind the Cavs, but Tuesday’s win at Richmond combined with wins over Old Orchard Beach could jump Buckfield into the top spot.

Valley will play the rest of the season without pitcher/shortstop Cody Laweryson, who suffered a season-ending arm injury.

To make up for Laweryson’s absence from the two hole in the lineup, Coach Belanger moved everybody up one spot, sliding Dylan Belanger from three to two, and Seth Malloy from four to three. Carrington Miller remains in the leadoff spot for the Cavs.

“Carrington is always finding a way to get on. He gets on base, he scores,” Coach Belanger said. “Dylan and Seth are hitting the ball really well.”

Around the state: Last Friday, Bangor’s Justin Courtney threw a five-inning perfect game in a 10-0 win at Mt. Ararat. Courtney struck out 12 of the 15 batters he faced, and also got three ground ball outs… Stearns of Millinocket has won eight games in a row to move into first place in Eastern Class C… When Bonny Eagle and Noble play on May 28, it could be for a playoff spot. Noble currently holds a slim lead over Bonny Eagle for the 11th and final spot in the Western Class A tournament.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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