WATERVILLE — It’s been textbook baseball in the first half of the season for Maranacook, whose pitching staff has allowed just four earned runs in total as the Black Bears have won six of their first seven.

Their arms continued to keep offenses at bay on Thursday, holding host Waterville to a lone unearned run in the bottom of the seventh of a 5-1 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win at Gaul Field. Ben Jewett, Jake McLaughlin and River Fallas combined on the four-hitter for Maranacook, which got an RBI triple from sophomore catcher Kody Goucher in the fifth.

“They’re just locking in and throwing strikes,” Goucher said of the staff. “They know that we have a good defense behind them, so they’re not worried about kids hitting the ball. They know if they do, our defense will make plays.”

Pitching and defense has been the key for Maranacook, which has hit double digits in runs scored just once all spring — in the second game of a season-opening doubleheader against Traip.

“I’ve got confidence in all the guys that I’ve got, and everybody’s going to throw when it’s their turn,” said Maranacook head coach Eric Brown, who has seven pitchers on his roster. “We’re doing pretty well as a staff. Our defense has been doing a great job, and the pitchers are throwing strikes. When you throw strikes, you make things happen and you don’t give up free bases.”

Thursday’s starter Jewett tossed three scoreless innings to start things off against Waterville (2-4). Following a leadoff single by Joe Hamelin (2 for 4) in the first, Jewett retired nine of the next 11 batters he faced to finish off his outing.


The Black Bears scored a pair in the top of the fourth to take a 2-0 lead and make a winner out of Jewett. McLaughlin doubled behind a Nick Florek walk, and both scored on Brayden St. Pierre’s fielder’s choice to shortstop. Maranacook added single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings for all the insurance they would need.

Florek’s bases-loaded bouncer back to the pitcher in the seventh allowed Tyler Hreben to scamper home from third for a 5-0 advantage.

McLaughlin, meanwhile, cruised through the middle innings on the hill for Maranacook. The sophomore held Waterville to just one hit in his three frames of work, surrendering an infield single to Ben Foster in the sixth.

“I just got my zone and focused and threw strikes, just like if I was starting,” said McLaughlin, who has been used both as a starter and out of the bullpen. “We have some pretty good arms, so I know once we get the lead we have the pitching behind us.”

Waterville shortstop Joe Hamlin makes a catch on a fly ball against Maranacook during a baseball game Thursday in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Against Fallas in the seventh, a pair of Black Bear errors in the infield created a spark for the Purple Panthers, loading the bases and allowing Eli Nawfel to score on brother Chris Nawfel’s fielder’s choice with one out.

The lefty Fallas settled down and got Foster to pop out to Goucher behind the plate and Wyatt Grady to ground to short to end it.


“They threw strikes when they needed strikes,” said Waterville coach Russ Beckwith, whose team put runners on base in each of the first four innings and in six of seven innings overall, but could never deliver a rally-building base hit. “We had a bunch of opportunities early in each inning, where we had runners on base with none or one out, but we just didn’t get timely hitting to move guys around.

“That makes it tough when you’re trying to bounce back and have big innings.”

The Panthers left nine men on base for the day, including five in scoring position and three runners at third.

“We have a lot hitters that can hit the ball hard and get it done for us,” Goucher said, noting that as the weather improves, so should the Black Bears’ ability to pile up runs. “We just want to show that we’re playing to win and that everyone should be afraid of us.”

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