WATERVILLE — Wins have eluded Grady Hotham this season. On Friday, the Erskine sophomore took care of that trend.

Hotham flirted with a no-hitter before finishing a complete game 7-1 victory over Waterville in a matchup of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference foes.

Erskine improved to 7-2, while Waterville fell to 3-6. Hotham bumped his individual record to 2-0, a mark that would be even more sparkling were it not for two leads against Lawrence and Winslow that were blown after he left the game.

This time, he finished what he started.

“I felt amazing coming into today,” Hotham said. “It was really good that we had our defense behind me, and I felt really good with run support. I love pitching with runs in our favor. It just felt really good to be out there.”

Hotham struck out 11, and his fastball-curveball combination was keeping Waterville off balance. He had allowed only two baserunners on a walk and an error through five innings, and while his coaches knew the situation, Hotham himself wasn’t sure.

“That’s the thing, no one talked about it,” he said. “I kind of knew it going into the sixth, who doesn’t? But it was all right, I wanted to win today, that was the biggest thing.”

WATERVILLE, ME – MAY 14: Waterville catcher Alex Spaulding catches a popup during a game Friday May 14, 2021 on Gaul Field in Waterville. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Hotham struck out the first two batters of the sixth, but then surrendered a single to Liam Von Oesen through the shortstop-third base hole. Joe Hamelin followed with a double into the right-center field gap, ending the shutout as well.

That was all Hotham gave up. A nice backhand stop and throw by freshman third baseman Tristan Anderson ended the inning, and Hotham struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh.

“He’s solid. He’s got a good fastball, got a good live arm,” Erskine coach Scott Ballard said. “His curveball, he had a little trouble locating it early, but he’s the type who’s just going to keep working it until he figures it out.”

Even in his first varsity season, Hotham has proven to be an ace for the Eagles.

“He’s just a really good competitor,” Ballard said. “He just knows how to pitch. He knows how to make the adjustments, he knows the hitters, he studies the game and it shows.”

His partner in the Erskine battery did his part Friday as well. Catcher Nick Barber went 3-for-3 with a triple and two doubles, and had four of the Eagles’ five RBIs in the victory.

Barber helped Hotham get a cushion early. Liam Perfetto (three runs) and Hotham drew first-inning walks, and Barber drilled a double to deep right field for a 2-0 lead.

Waterville players sit in a team area beside the dugout during a game against Erskine on Friday in Waterville. Coronavirus pandemic precautions limit the number of players inside the dugout. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I feel comfortable at the plate. When I lead it off with a good hit, I just feel great all day after that,” he said. “It felt like a big hit. It was nice to hit a good hit in the first inning and get a lead in the first inning for Grady. Grady doesn’t get much run support.”

Barber played a big role as Erskine built on its lead in the fifth. Harry Rabideau reached on an error, Perfetto walked one out later, and Colby Lloyd hit an RBI single to center. Hotham flew out but a wild pitch scored Perfetto, and Barber laced a triple to deep center to score Lloyd and make it 5-0.

Barber later scored on an error, and in the seventh doubled in Perfetto. He also made a big play on the defensive side, picking off Hamelin with the score still 2-0 after he led off the fourth with a walk and stolen base.

“It’s fun catching, I love it,” said Barber, who tore his meniscus during basketball season. “I love catching for Grady, he’s the most fun pitcher I’ve ever caught for. He locates the ball great.”

Waterville got five innings from sophomore Gage Hubbard, who struck out five and allowed only two earned runs.

“After he got through the first inning … he was able to settle down a little bit and realize he doesn’t have to throw it through the backstop,” Waterville coach Russ Beckwith said. “I think that’s the big thing for Gage. As long as he stays focused and throws strikes, he’s got enough stuff that he can work well for us.”

Beckwith said the late life on offense was a positive sign.

“We need to find a way, even against good pitchers, to get traffic on the basepaths,” he said. “They got traffic on the basepaths, whether it was via walks, mistakes, they were able to capitalize.”

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