GARDINER — The Gardiner baseball team is rounding into playoff form as it hits the second half of the season.

Monday, the Tigers rode the bat and arm of senior Logan Porter in building a big lead, then hung on and got some solid relief from Cole Lawrence in downing Leavitt 7-4.

The Tigers improved to 8-2 and is climbing the ladder in Class B North while Leavitt fell to 6-5.

Porter was sharp over the first five innings and didn’t allow a base-runner until the fourth. By that time he and his teammates had built a 7-0 lead against senior right-hander Tim Albert.

“He’s one of the better pitchers we’ve seen,” said Gardiner catcher Kolton Brochu, who drove in three runs with a first-inning double and second-inning single.

While Albert struggled in the first three innings, Porter cruised. The slender lefty kept the Hornets off-balance with a deceptive delivery and good control.

“He was good especially with first-pitch strikes,” Leavitt coach Larry Angello said.

Porter swung a hot bat as well. Batting leadoff, he finished with four hits and scored three runs.

“We knew (Albert) had good velocity,” Porter said. “So I was waiting on the first fastball.”

The Tigers scored three runs in the first inning and three more in the second with the top of the order — Porter, Lawrence and Brochu — doing most of the damage. They accounted for eight of Gardiner’s 10 hits.

“I like where we’re at,” Gardiner coach Charlie Lawrence said. “We’re doing the little things and we’re not making too many errors.”

Albert allowed just three singles over the final four innings, two of those to Porter, who scored a run in the fourth to make it 7-0.

“He settled down and we settled down,” Angello said.

Porter escaped trouble in the fourth despite a double from Allen Peabody and a single by Bryce Hudson. But he was less fortunate in the sixth when Peabody led off with a single, a base hit by Albert and walk to Hudson — Porter’s only walk of the game — loaded the bases with one out. Eli Lind singled home a run then Darin Hewitt grounded to third. Chad Moran bobbled the ball momentarily then elected to throw home for the force play. Brochu stretched for the ball but the umpire ruled that he took his foot off the plate and called Albert safe to make it 7-2.

“I couldn’t really tell,” Brochu said of the call. “I thought (Moran) was going to tag third.

After an out, Brian Hewitt singled to left to make it 7-4. The Gardiner coach brought in Cole Lawrence to get the final out and it proved a tough one as Denver Taylor hit a rocket off Lawrence’s leg. It bounced toward first and Lawrence retrieved it in time to nip Taylor for the final out. He breezed through the seventh, striking out the first two batters before Porter, now playing right, made a nice running catch of Albert’s foul ball to end the game.

“We don’t really have any studs,” Brochu said. “But we have a good team overall, great coaching and good team chemistry.”

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