GARDINER — First, the Gardiner Area High School baseball team showed some poise, handling a pair of punches from archrival Cony with some jabs and haymakers of their own.

Then, the Tigers showed some power, pulling away from the Rams and making sure coach Charlie Lawrence enjoyed a stress-free first victory.

A five-run fifth inning put Gardiner in command for good, setting the stage for what became an 11-5 victory over Cony on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a very good feeling,” Lawrence said. “We didn’t play perfect, but we played good enough to get a win today.”

Kolton Brochu and Casey Bourque had two hits and scored three runs apiece, while Alic Shorey had two hits and two runs and Garrett Lunt and Chandler Moran each had a hit and scored a run.

Mike Levesque had a hit and scored three runs and Tyler Dostie had two hits and two RBIs for Cony (0-2), which was hurt at key times by wildness on the mound and sloppiness in the field.

“We beat ourselves today,” coach Don Plourde said. “It’s that simple, we beat ourselves. It wasn’t our bats, it wasn’t our pitching. We beat ourselves with mental and physical errors.”

TAKING CONTROL: The teams swapped leads early, with Gardiner taking a 3-1 lead in the first and Cony answering back with three to take the lead in the third.

Gardiner pulled even with a run in the bottom of the third, then jumped back in front 5-4 with another in the fourth. And then, in the fifth, the roof gave in.

The Tigers threatened early, with Brochu beating out an infield single to shortstop and Bourque executing a perfect hit-and-run single through the second baseman’s vacated spot to put runners at the corners with no outs. The jam was too much for the Rams, who walked Shorey, Lunt and Moran consecutively to bring Brochu and Bourque home and make it 7-4.

“We just made a lot of the smaller plays. … We finally got some hits, and then we were disciplined at the plate,” Brochu said. “It showed what we can do as a team. We can put the ball in play, we can get good hits and move some runners around. We have good speed and agility on this team.”

The bleeding continued when Shorey scored on Trey Lawrence’s swinging bunt and when Lunt scored when the pitcher was late covering first on Logan Porter’s grounder to first. Moran came home on a double steal to round out the scoring for the frame and put Gardiner comfortably ahead 10-4.

“We weren’t really happy with our execution up at Brewer (in a loss),” Coach Lawrence said. “We’ve been working on hit-and-runs, we’ve been working on placing hits where we need to.”

CLOSE EARLY: The one-sided homestretch seemed out of place considering the back-and-forth nature of the game’s beginning.

After Cony opened with a run in the first when Mike Boivin scored during a rundown, Gardiner struck back for three in the third, with Brochu scoring on a single by Bourque, Bourque scoring on a Shorey single and Shorey coming home on an overthrown pickoff. Brochu’s run was a testament to Gardiner’s emphasis this year on creating offense on the basepaths, as he raced to third from first on the single, then never broke stride while heading home when he saw the ball bobbled in the outfield.

“We’re going to get thrown out a few times here and there,” Coach Lawrence said, “but we’re also going to make things happen. We’re going to put the pressure on the other teams to make the plays.”

Cony had a response. A walk and an errant throw on a grounder put runners at second and third with no outs, setting the stage for sacrifice flies from Kyle Douin and Dostie and then an RBI single from Boivin. Unfazed, Gardiner got the run back in the bottom half when Brochu stroked a one-out single and stole second, advanced to third on Bourque’s bunt and came home on an error on a Shorey grounder.

“I think that’s part of our senior leadership,” Coach Lawrence said about the Gardiner responses, “our older guys keeping them together in the dugout and knowing we’re going to have to score quite a few runs to win games.”

Gardiner took the lead for good when Cony’s defense failed it again in the fourth. Trey Lawrence reached on an error, then went to third after he was caught in a rundown but the throw skipped past the third baseman. Cam Bourassa then lifted a fly ball to left field but the ball was dropped, allowing Lawrence to jog in with the run.

“We’ve been together for five weeks,” Plourde said. “We should be better than that.”

CROSS IT OFF: Coach Lawrence, who took over the program before the spring, was happy to cross that first win off the list — particularly when considering the team it came against.

“Win No. 1’s great. Obviously, against Cony, there’s always that little Gardiner rivalry,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a game of checkers or what it is. We always want to beat each other.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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