READFIELD — The Maranacook baseball team scored a run in the first. It didn’t score another.

Jay Lauter made sure his team didn’t need to.

Lauter pitched a two-hitter, Glen Guerrette singled in the only run Maranacook needed and the Black Bears edged Waterville 1-0 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference matchup Wednesday.

Waterville second baseman Kai Robideau, left, tags out Maranacook’s Glen Guerrette on a steal attempt at second base Wednesday in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Lauter, the Maranacook ace, struck out eight en route to the victory, which upped his record to 6-0.

“The performance was outstanding by Jay,” said coach Eric Brown, whose team improved to 12-1. “He kept throwing strikes, he had the one walk, and they’re a tough team.”

There were no signs of regret or disappointment on the Waterville (7-7) side, however. Not after Purple Panthers pitched David Barre was excellent in his own right, pitching all six innings while striking out six, walking one and allowing five hits.

“I think that’s a very well-played game by both teams, really,” Waterville coach Russell Beckwith said. “I think both pitchers did really well today. I would be hard-pressed to see a better matchup than that from two pitchers anywhere this year.”

Both pitchers settled into a groove as the game wore on, so it made sense that each team got some of their best opportunities to strike on the scoreboard in the first. Kody Vallee led off the game with an infield single, but Lauter retired the last three batters, the last one being Cam Denis, who hit a deep fly to left that looked like trouble at first but which left fielder Duncan Rogers was able to track down.

Maranacook threatened and capitalized in the bottom half. With one out, Rogers reached on a slow roller to third, then went to second on a wild throw to first. Barre got Mitch Root to pop up and then had Guerrette down to two strikes, but the senior went the other way to left for a single that brought Rogers in and made it 1-0.

With Lauter on the mound, Guerrette knew the early run could loom large.

“Every run is important,” he said. “Every inning is important, not just the last inning. That’s the most exciting, they tend to be, but even the early innings are very important.”

The Black Bears weren’t able to get to Barre for any more, but Lauter was unfazed. He allowed only one more hit, a two-out single by Denis in the fourth, and the fourth was the only inning in which Waterville got a runner to second base.

“He got first guys out in each inning … with the exception of the first inning,” Brown said. “That was key.”

With Barre matching him scoreless inning for scoreless inning, there wasn’t much margin for error. Lauter, however, said he’s comfortable under pressure.

“That’s why I picked No. 32. I like the 3-2 counts. It’s fun to work with, and it helps me challenge myself,” said Lauter, who needed 101 pitches for the shutout. “I’m just blessed to have the fastball working. … (I) was kind of iffy with everything else, but the fastball was working really well.”

Beckwith said he knew his team wasn’t going to be able to rack up the runs against Lauter, and that it was a credit to the left-hander that the Panthers’ patient approach didn’t force Brown to go to the bullpen.

“We got him to 100 pitches, and that’s what we came in looking to do,” Beckwith said. “The gameplan for the most part was a couple of baserunners away from doing what we want to do, which was drive his pitch count up so we could see other arms.”

Waterville’s Dan Gaunce follows through on his swing as he pops out against Maranacook in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Wednesday in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Beckwith said Barre dealt with arm soreness early in the season, and has only recently been getting stretched deeper into games.

“He knew pretty much today that he had the ball and he was going to keep us in the game,” Beckwith said. “He mixed in the curveball for strikes, which a lot of times can keep a good-hitting team off balance. … That’s really the difference in the game. They scored in the first and we didn’t.”

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