OAKLAND — As Waterville leadoff hitter Kai Rabideau worked through an 11 pitch at bat to open Friday’s game at Messalonskee, the junior second baseman knew whether he reached base or not, he was setting the tone for the game.

“It’s an exciting way to start the game, making sure there’s a good dynamic for everything,” Rabideau said. “We were ready to keep playing, even if we didn’t get something positive out of it, just getting their pitcher to throw a lot of pitches.”

Rabideau worked a walk from the long at bat, then swiped second base and later scored the Purple Panthers’ first run when Cody Pellerin grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Panthers put their leadoff hitter on base five times, and in each inning, the leadoff man scored a run. That propelled Waterville to a 9-2 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference interclass baseball win.

Waterville is 4-1, while Messalonskee is 3-3.

“That’s a big thing for us that we talk about, that the first guy has to set the table for the rest of the group. They’ve taken ownership of that so far this year, and it’s nice when you get guys on because you can do stuff with it,” Waterville coach Russ Beckwith said.

Rabideau was Waterville’s top table setter. He went 3 for 4, scoring three runs and driving in another. Rabideau led off three separate innings, reaching base and scoring each time.

“Kai is a fighter. He never wants to give up an at bat, so that’s why we have him in that leadoff hole, and he’s done a great job so far,” Beckwith said.

Added Rabideau: “I like seeing a lot of pitches. Baseball is really my favorite part of the year every year.”

Waterville scored three runs in the top of the second inning to pull away. Brock Jolicoeur led off with a walk, and Chase Wheeler reached on a bunt single when the Eagles failed to cover first base. Jack Thompson’s infield single loaded the bases with no outs, and Jolicoeur scored on Alex Vargas’ sacrifice fly to left. Rabideau singled to drive in a run, and Thompson scored on the back end of a double steal for a 4-0 lead.

Waterville added two runs in the third, and another in the top of the fourth, when Rabideau scored on a Pellerin groundout, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier pointed at the six walks and two hit batters issued by his team. Those eight free baserunners equaled the number of hits Waterville had.

“You can’t give a good hitting team extra guys on base or you’re going to pay for it,” Bernier said.

Messalonskee got a run back in the bottom of the fourth, when Ben Hellen scored on a Carter Lambert single. The Eagles got an unearned run in the fifth, when Jake Perry scored on an error. Waterville ace Pellerin went 5 2/3 innings for the win. Pellerin didn’t have his best stuff, walking five and hitting a batter while striking out three, but he battled until he reached the maximum 110 pitches. Jolicoeur came on the get the final four outs for Waterville.

“It’s been a while since Cody threw last. With the weather and our schedule, we haven’t played since last Friday. This was the first one in a week for us,” Beckwith said. “It was nice to get out and, jumping out to an early lead we can let Cody go a little longer. I let him go to his max today. He’s not going to throw again probably for another week.”

The Eagles were held to just four hits. Lambert had a pair of singles.

“We’ve seen a lot of teams’ No. 1s in the early part, which I like. It lets our guys see stuff. Our approach at the plate is not where we want it right now. We’ve got to get back and get a lot of great practice time outside where we can see where the ball is going,” Bernier said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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