SKOWHEGAN — Hayden Lee doesn’t say a whole lot. If the Lawrence sophomore keeps pitching like he did Monday afternoon, his Bulldog teammates will be more than happy to let him do his talking on the mound.

Lee hurled a complete-game five-hitter at Skowhegan in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference crossover, needing just 76 pitches to hand Lawrence its third straight victory with a tidy 3-1 decision. Lee retired the game’s final 11 batters on just 25 pitches to finish off a game that was over in a snappy 84 minutes.

“He was hitting everything. His location was really good today,” Lawrence catcher Nate Bickford said. “He was painting corners. He’s a really accurate pitcher, and he can hit spots. He did really good today.”

Lawrence pitcher Hayden Lee throws against Skowhegan during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game Monday in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Lawrence (5-2) scored single runs in the second, third and fifth innings to give Lee all the run support he would need. The Bulldogs turned to small ball time and again to generate their offense, using a stolen base and a two-out single from Chris Dow to take a 1-0 lead in the second, and Nick Grard doubled home Bickford following an infield hit and a sacrifice in the third.

In the fifth, defense broke down for Skowhegan (3-4). The host squad committed all three of its errors in the frame, leading to a wild run-scoring play for the Bulldogs. Bickford’s sacrifice bunt allowed Christian Adams to go from second to third, and when Skowhegan second baseman Mathew Berry threw behind him to third, Adams broke for home. That throw to the plate from Kyle Kruse skipped to the backstop, and Adams slid in for a 3-1 lead.

“We’ve got good bats all around the order,” Bickford said. “We just execute at the plate. Everybody can hit on this team, up and down the lineup.”

Skowhegan had its chances to generate runs over the first four innings, before Lee really settled into a groove. But it left five runners on base for the game, all of them in scoring position.

In the second inning, Skowhegan got on the board with Zeb Tibbetts’ sacrifice fly plating Aiden Louder, but Cam Louder tried to go from second to home on the same play and was thrown out on a routine 8-1-3-2 putout at the dish. Skowhegan put runners at second and third with one out in the fourth, but two harmless flyouts ended any threat.

“We did not execute at the plate, and they did,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said. “I’m really disappointed in our approach at the plate. We’ve been talking about it, but they just don’t want to seem to listen. Maybe this will snap them out of it.”

From there, Lee took over. With help from his error-free defense behind him, he made sure Skowhegan wouldn’t threaten again, thanks to a steady diet of fastballs to various locations across the strike zone. Forty-seven of Lee’s 76 pitches were strikes.

“It was just my location,” said Lee, who tried to take advantage of Skowhegan’s free swinging early in counts. “They’re a good team. You just try to get ahead with strike one. Mostly fastballs and a couple of curveballs.”

“He threw strikes,” Mercier said. “Our defense made all the plays, and that helps, obviously. When you have a kid like that throwing strikes, it’s easier to play defense because the play is going. Things are happening.”

Skowhegan ace Colby Miller was beaten in perhaps his best start of the season. Miller surrendered just two earned runs while scattering seven hits, fanning nine and walking only one.

 


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