WATERVILLE — The first seven walks issued by Winslow High School pitchers turned out to be harmless to everything but the pitch count. The next six, though, those left a stain.

A trio of Winslow pitchers combined to walk 13 Waterville hitters Wednesday morning at Colby College’s Coombs Field, including the first four hitters in the bottom of the fifth inning. All four scored, sparking a five run rally that saw the Purple Panthers take the lead for good in a 7-5 win.

It was the season opener for both teams, and it showed in sometimes sloppy play on each side. While Winslow issued a baker’s dozen of free passes, Waterville pitchers also struggled with control, walking eight, including one intentionally.

“As a coach that’s been around for a while now, you kind of expect the first few (games) of the year to shake off the rust. Especially in the situation we’re in in Maine right now. Who knows if anybody’s really had enough time to prepare? This is our third time even being outside the gym,” Waterville coach Russell Beckwith said.

Waterville trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning. Winslow starter Cam Winslow walked the first three batters to load the bases. Coming on in relief, Jonathan Day walked Cooper Hart to drive in a run. Liam Von Oesen singled to drive in another Waterville run, and Aidan Morrison’s sacrifice fly to center field cut the Black Raiders lead to 5-4.

Josiah Bloom reached on a throwing error, and Hart scored on the play to tie the game. Von Oesen scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Purple Panthers a 6-5 lead.

The walks hurt, Winslow coach Bob Chenard said, and the first-year coach said his team needs to develop pitching depth.

“Right now we’ve got three starters (pitching). I didn’t want to throw any starters today in relief because we have such a load (of games) coming. We have to work on our relief pitching, and that’s something we’re trying to develop,” Chenard said.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, when Cam Denis doubled off the left field wall to score Dan Gaunce, who led off the inning with a walk.

“It was a full count. I knew he (Winslow pitcher Colby Pomeroy) was going to bring me one pretty nice. I geared up for it and tried to put my best swing on it,” Denis said.

The Black Raiders scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 5-1 lead. After Evan Bourget scored on an error to give Winslow a 2-1 lead, Ethan Lachance tripled to score Caden Fitzpatrick. Lachance scored on a wild pitch, and Reid Gagnon scored on a Cam Winslow single to push the Black Raiders lead to four runs.

Winslow’s first run came in the top of the third, and was the first play in what Chenard said will be an aggressive season on the bases. With Waterville pitcher Kody Vallee pitching from a windup, Gagnon stole home, reaching safely when catcher Gaunce dropped the ball trying to make the tag.

“(Vallee)was very slow in his windup. I told Reid, if he goes from the windup, definitely get yourself three quarters of the way down and just take off when he throws. It works. It does work,” Chenard said. “Overall, I’m pleased with the way we played. We had that one bad inning. Everybody hit the ball well. We ran the bases extremely well. First game out, we’re all learning from this. We’ve got good things in front of us, we really do.”

Morrison earned the win in relief of Vallee. David Barre pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the save.

“It’s still early. I’m on tight pitch counts with all my guys. It makes it tough to let them get loose,” Beckwith said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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