WATERVILLE — A few key hits, a solid effort from the pitchers and good defense. There was nothing fancy in Waterville Senior High School’s 4-1 win over Presque Isle in the Eastern Class B baseball preliminary round. But in the playoffs, fancy is for pregame ceremonies. Surviving and advancing is what matters and the Purple Panthers were happy to do so.

“That kid (Presque Isle ace Saul Nunez) threw a great game for them. They played good defense behind him, too,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said.

Waterville, the No. 4 seed, is now 14-3 and will host No 5 Camden Hills (13-4) in the quarterfinals on Thursday. No. 13 Presque Isle ends the season at 6-11.

Waterville scored three runs in the second inning off Nunez and the Panthers added another run in the fourth.

“(Nunez) was working the corners pretty well. He kept us off balance, but hey, we scored when we needed to score,” said Tyler Bouchard, who drove in A.J. Godin with two out in the bottom of the fourth to push Waterville’s lead to 4-0.

In the second inning, Alan Wood’s single scored Racean Wood to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. With two outs, Dan Pooler singled to right to score a pair of runs. Three of the Panthers’ four runs scored with two outs.

Presque Isle, on the other hand, couldn’t convert its chances. The Wildcats left runners on second and third base in the second inning and they stranded another runner on third in the third inning. In the sixth, Presque Isle had two on and one out, but Waterville reliever Kaleb Kane induced a double play to get out of the inning.

“Scoring runs has been a premium all year. They’re expensive for us. Sometimes, it’s not the pitcher who gets us out, we get ourselves out,” Presque Isle coach Tim Olore said. “They don’t make errors. They don’t give up unearned runs. So we’ve got to legitimately hit them and today they beat us.”

Added Bouchard: “(Defense is) going to be big throughout the playoffs. At the beginning of the season, we really struggled with defense. We had a lot of errors in each game. We’re buckling down now and we’ve cut those errors to pretty much nothing.”

Brian Bellows started for Waterville and went five innings, allowing two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Kane threw the final two innings for the Panthers.

“Brian pitched his usual game, keeping the ball down, moving it around. Kaleb, when he comes into the game, we just need him to throw strikes,” Sawyer said.

Presque Isle scored one run in the top of the seventh. After leading off with a single, Karson Wilcox scored on Adam Flynn’s double to the right-centerfield gap.

Nunez allowed seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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