MONMOUTH — St. Dominic’s Gavin Bates made his high school pitching debut last Wednesday at Dirigo of Dixfield, which is about as daunting an assignment any pitcher could draw, let alone a freshman.

Bates returned to the mound on Monday to face Monmouth Academy, another opponent that can make any pitcher nervous, especially after he was roughed-up in his first start. But the hard-throwing righthander showed no ill effects from the 11-7 loss in his debut and dominated the Mustangs, striking out 12 in a complete game, three-hit shutout as the Saints cruised to an 8-0 win.

“They’re a good team. I had to throw strikes,” said Bates, who issued just two walks on the day. “I knew they were going to hit the ball, and they put the ball in play a little bit. My curve ball struggled a little bit so I just had to hit the strike zone with my fastball.”

“I struggled against Dirigo. It was a learning curve,” Bates said. “We have seven seniors. They’re experienced and they really help out and teach me a lot.”

The best assistance Bates’ teammates could give him Monday was an early lead to work with, which is exactly what they did. The Saints (4-4) scored four times in the top of the first off of Monmouth southpaw Nick Sanborn.

Bates helped himself out with an RBI single that followed Caleb Labrie’s RBI single. The Mustangs (6-2) also helped out with four errors in the inning.

“The biggest thing that I was pleased with today was our offensive execution,” St. Dominic coach Bob Blackman said. “We’ve been working on going the other way for a week-and-a-half. We’ve had a stretch where three out of four guys that we’ve seen have been lefties and we kind of struggled with one or two of them. We’ve really worked on it, so coming into today, we felt that we could take advantage of that. The good thing is they really hit it with some authority today.”

“Coach Blackman’s always making sure that we can hit the outside pitch because that’s what they like to throw,” said Bates, who also had a triple and a single and knocked in two runs. “We hit a few nice line drives that were gappers.”

Mitch Lorenz went the other way on his RBI triple in the second inning. Labrie drove him home with a ground out to second to make it 6-0 Saints.

“(Getting the early lead) gets me a lot of confidence,” Bates said. “It calms me down on the mound.”

“Gavin settled in a little bit. I think he was a little bit hyped up up to Dirigo. We’d never tried him on the mound until the day before,” Blackman said. “We kind of threw him to the wolves up to Dirigo. He had a little more time to prepare this time and I think he had much more command.”

Bates didn’t allow a hit until Avery Pomerleau’s leadoff double in the third. The only other Monmouth hits were one-out singles by Tommy Small and Sanborn in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively.

“He did a great job. He kept us off balance,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “Three hits aren’t going to score you many runs and it’s not going to win you any games.”

Labrie added an RBI single and Bates a sacrifice fly in the third to round out the scoring.

“We needed that win. That’s kind of a confidence-booster,” Blackman said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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