WATERVILLE — For the second straight game, the Waterville Senior High School baseball team played without a group of seniors who are away on various school trips during April vacation week.

And for the second straight game, the Purple Panthers showed why depth will indeed be a strength this season.

Several newcomers stepped up in a 16-6 win over Nokomis on Friday morning at Colby College’s Coombs Field, showing coach Russell Beckwith the potential his team has to contend in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B division when his full roster returns.

Freshman Aidan Morrison pitched a perfect inning of relief, had a pair of hits and drove in a run. Freshman Liam Von Oesen scored three runs and sophomore Josiah Bloom had a pair of his while scoring a run and driving in another. Those three contributed in a lineup that produced top to bottom. Every player in Waterville’s starting lineup scored at least one run, and every player had at least one hit in the game shortened to five innings because of the 10-run rule.

“It’s big for us to have somebody like Aidan Morrison come in. He’s a freshman, and be able to shut the door for us so we can come out here offensively, was nice,” Beckwith said.

Added junior catcher Dan Gaunce, who went 4 for 5 and drove in four runs: “Morrison threw for an inning and looked really good. I’m overall impressed by our freshmen and younger players, the overall maturity of them. It’s great to see.”

Ahead 9-6 after four innings, Morrison came on in relief of starter David Barre and pitched a perfect inning, striking out two. With that as a springboard, the Panther bats put the game away in the bottom of the fifth. Waterville pounded out eight hits in the inning and capitalized on a Nokomis error. Gaunce’s single, his second run-scoring hit of the inning, scored Kody Vallee to give the Panthers a 10-run lead and end the game.

“Our bats came alive there at the end. We were able to put the ball in play and make something happen,” Gaunce said.

Earlier in the game, Beckwith and his assistant coaches asked the hitters to focus on staying in the middle of the field, and it paid off. Waterville scored in each of its five at bats, including a five-run second inning to take a 6-2 lead.

“It’s nice to see these guys took the coaching and went back up the box. That was the big thing for us. They started realizing the best approach against some of these pitchers was to go right back up the box, stay in the middle of the field and see what happens,” Beckwith said.

Nokomis hit well, too. Andy Hopkins’ two-run double in the top of the first inning gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead. In the top of the third, an RBI triple by Michael Gagne cut Waterville’s lead to 6-3, and Gagne scored when Gabe Gilley reached on an error. The Warriors added two more runs in the third, when Owen Upton scored on an error and Joel Burnette scored on a Gagne single to cut Waterville’s lead to 7-6.

The Panthers added a pair of run in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Cooper Hart and Bloom.

Barre scored three runs for Waterville and took the win. Leadoff hitter Jayden Brooks scored twice for Nokomis. It was the second game in as many days for the Warriors, who fell 12-11 to Foxcroft Academy Thursday.

“We’ve got to figure some things out and we’ve got to get better quick,” Nokomis coach Scott Hartsgrove said. “We hit well yesterday too. But if we can’t pay dividends on the defensive side, the hitting won’t matter.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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