FAIRFIELD — Early season high school baseball in Maine can be a mixed bag of raw weather and raw talent, as athletes adjust to playing the game as it’s intended on a diamond, not in a gym, often under less than ideal conditions. Such was the case Thursday morning at Keyes Field, where Erskine and Lawrence battled the elements as much as each other.

The Eagles and Bulldogs combined for 12 errors in the game. Erskine was able to capitalize more on its opponents’ miscues, breaking open a tie game with five runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 9-4 win in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B season opener for both teams.

“Defensively it wasn’t pretty for either team. April baseball in Maine. The wind was blowing and the ball was drifting, and we didn’t handle that very well,” Erskine coach Scott Ballard said.

Erskine’s Sage Hapgood-Belanger races back to first base as Lawrence pitcher Nick Robertson awaits the throw in a run-down during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Thursday in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

With the score tied 4-4, Erskine’s Jackson Allen led off the top of the sixth inning with a single. With one out, Sage Hapgood-Belanger reached on an error, sending Allen to third base. After Hapgood-Belanger swiped second, Allen scored on a wild pitch to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead. A throwing error on the same play allowed Hapgood-Belanger to scored on the same play.

Following walks to Caden Turcotte and Braden Soule, Joe Clark RBI single gave Erskine a 7-4 lead. Soule and Clark scored on another Lawrence error, the Bulldogs third of the inning, to push the lead to 9-4.

“They got a little momentum. They tied it, and we never answered after that. They started hitting the ball pretty good towards the end of the game,” Lawrence coach Rusty Mercier said.

The Bulldogs committed seven errors, allowing six unearned Erskine runs.

“I was disappointed with the way we played defensively. We didn’t make routine plays. Later, I felt we didn’t compete as well as we should have,” Mercier said.

Lawrence pitcher Nick Robertson throws against Erskine during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Thursday in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Down 2-0 in the third inning, Lawrence tied the game on Chris Dow’s two-run single. The Bulldogs took a 4-2 lead in the fourth, on RBI singles by Mckenzie Steeves and Nate Bickford. Both fourth inning runs were unearned, thanks to one of Erskine’s five errors.

“Defensively, we’ve got to tighten up a bit. We put the ball in play all day, and we had timely hits, too. We were good and alert on the bases,” Ballard said.

The Eagles tied the game with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth, when a pair of errors extended the inning for a Nick Barber RBI single and sacrifice fly to right field from Nick Howard.

A highlight for Erskine was the pitching of starter Allen, who went four innings, and Lucas Anderson, who came on for three innings of relief and earned the win. The duo combined for seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

“I loved our pitching. We threw strikes all day,” Ballard said.

Added Allen: “We felt good. We went through our stretches and got our arms warmed up. We’ve been doing a lot of throwing. All our pitching staff is really zoning in on throwing strikes… We did our best with (the cold). We had a couple errors and the wind didn’t help us. I think our team handled it well and I think Lawrence handled it well too.”

Hapgood-Belanger scored three runs for Erskine, with Soule and Clark each scoring twice. Nick Robertson started for Lawrence, striking out seven in five-plus innings.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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