OAKLAND — Messalonskee may have an ace in senior Nick Mayo, but coach Peter McLaughlin is bringing the 6-foot-8 pitcher along slowly.

“We’ve got him on a pretty rigorous pitch count, and we make sure he sticks with it and keeps getting work throughout the week,” McLaughlin said after Mayo earned the win in Tuesday’s 8-6 victory at Bangor. “He’s a warrior, and he’s been a pitcher his entire lifetime. His dad was a great pitcher, and he’s cut from the old block.”

Mayo took his junior year off from baseball, as he focused on basketball. Next year, he’ll play basketball at Eastern Kentucky University. Before that, Mayo wanted to get in one more season of baseball.

Mayo pitched five innings on Tuesday, giving up three hits and three walks while striking out four. Mayo surrendered three unearned runs in the fifth inning, and threw 78 pitches, 49 for strikes. In nine innings of work, Mayo — who also earned the win in Messalonskee’s 10-0 win at Lawrence on April 24 — has yet to allow an earned run.

“He had some spots he could’ve improved on a little bit today, but the first four innings he was dynamite. That fifth inning, errors allowed him to get extended a little bit. I’m happy with him today,” McLaughlin said after the Bangor win. “He’s a gamer, and he wants to be in this situation. (Tuesday) was that game he wanted to be in. He got a little tired at the end. We’re looking forward to what he’s going to do for us the rest of the year.”

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Erskine goes into Friday’s big home game with unbeaten Camden Hills owning a 2-4 record. Coach Mark Bailey believes all the Eagles lack to improve that mark is some timely hitting.

“If we could score some runs, we could turn that record around,” he said.

The Eagles are averaging 3.3 runs per game and are 1-3 in games decided by two runs or less. They’ve had a couple of offensive outbursts, such as their 7-4 win over Medomak Valley and 9-8 loss to Lincoln Academy, but Bailey is looking for more consistent production from the lineup aside from all-conference shortstop Ryan Rodrigue, whose average is hovering around .500,

Erskine’s pitching staff has performed admirably through the first third of the season. Rodrigue continues to lead the staff along with Nathan Harrington-Howard, and Zack Glidden tossed a five-hitter while fanning 10 in Monday’s 3-1 win over Mount View to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The Eagles’ mound depth suffered a blow when Luke Peabody started the season with a sore arm then injured his knee against Mount View. Bailey may have found someone to fill the void in sophomore Dylan Presby, who impressed with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in a 2-0 loss to Morse this week.

The inconsistent offense has frustrated a senior-laden team that just barely missed reaching the tournament last year, but Bailey believes it’s just a matter of time before the bats start warming up. If they do, he believes the Eagles could pick up some key wins in a parity-filled KVAC and rise quickly up the Eastern B Heal point standings.

“The league’s been tight when you look at who’s beaten who,” said Bailey, whose team has key games with Spruce Mountain, Leavitt and Belfast next week.

• • •

One of the keys to Gardiner’s success this year is junior first baseman Eli Fish, who is making an impact offensively and defensively.

Fish has been an on-base machine from the Tigers’ leadoff spot. In their two losses, to Maranacook and Winslow, he was 4-for-6 with three walks. He reached base in nine out of 10 plate appearances (twice via error) and scored four runs.

Fish was up to his old tricks again on Thursday, this time in a 4-1 win over Waterville. He reached base in three of four plate appearances (two singles, one error), scored a run and drove in what proved to be the winning run with an infield single.

“Eli sets the table. He’s a leader in that department,” Beckwith said. “It’s always nice to see him setting the table for the big guys.”

As good as he is at getting on base, Fish may be even better keeping opposing runners off base with his defensive work at first. He’s already saved numerous potential errors this season by digging throws out of the dirt.

“As a pitcher, you have confidence with him over there,” said pitcher Josh McKelvey, who picked up the victory against Waterville. “Even if they’re not making the best throws, you can almost be sure he’s going to scoop the ball up and we’re going to get the out.”

“He’s real good for us defensively,” Beckwith said. “Eli’s a real good pitcher and I have a hard time taking him off first base because of how much he improves my defense.”

• • •

Valley players and fans had a scare prior to Tuesday’s game at Richmond when head coach Scott Laweryson was struck in the face by a line drive while throwing batting practice.

Laweryson went to his knees and started bleeding from his nose after being hit, but he never lost consciousness and joked with Richmond coaches as a Richmond trainer treated him. Pregame activities ended without either team taking infield practice and the start of the game was delayed about 15 minutes.

Laweryson, who is in his first season as the Cavaliers’ coach, stayed in the Cavaliers’ dugout throughout the game as a precautionary measure. Aside from a gash on the bridge of his nose, he said he felt fine after the game, which the Cavaliers won, 11-7.

Laweryson joked that it was just a matter of time before he got hit in batting practice because he’d somehow avoided it throwing BP to his son, Cody, one of the hardest hitters in the East-West Conference, for all of these years.

“I’ve thrown enough times to Cody that I probably should have taken one by now,” he said.


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