PORTLAND – As the coach of South Portland last season, Portland High baseball coach Tony DiBiase knew what his team was facing.

South Portland right-thander Andrew Richards throws strikes, mixes pitches well and is cool under pressure.

Richards was all of that Tuesday at Hadlock Field, limiting the Bulldogs to three hits with no walks as the Red Riots won their fourth straight, 7-0.

“With the way Andrew was pitching, two runs would have been enough,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “He was hitting his spots and changing speeds. Andrew has pitched in countless big games. This was an emotional game but he’s unfazed in situations like this.”

Richards gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Nick Volger, then retired 12 straight before the Bulldogs got consecutive base hits from Caleb Fraser and Nate Smart with one out in the fifth.

Richards then struck out the next two hitters, ending the inning and starting a run of eight straight outs to end the game. Andrews faced 23 batters, two more than the minimum.

“I was hitting my spots with all of my pitches,” said Richards. “I came in ready to go.”

Richards, who struck out seven, is a rarity in that most pitchers at this level are good hitters. Richards doesn’t play in the field when he’s not on the mound and the Riots use a designated hitter for him.

“Andrew’s job is to pitch,” said Owens.

Although Richards has added velocity from last season, when he was a Telegram League all-star after going 5-2, he doesn’t overpower hitters like other pitchers in the league.

Richards does what he does effectively and concisely, and with a strong defense behind him, pitches crisp games. This one took 1 hour, 45 minutes.

“Richards is one of the best pitchers in the league,” said DiBiase.

“He’s always around the plate. He was tough last year and this season, he’s stronger and has better bite on his curveball.”

Richards has given hitters more to think about this season because of a third pitch — a change-up.

“He’s getting more confidence with it,” said Owens.

The Riots (4-1) scored all the runs they needed in the first inning. With two outs, Paul Reny and Zach Horton walked. Evan Indorf then lined a two-run double to right-center.

South Portland added two runs in the third. Nick Whitten had a leadoff double to left, Will Bushey walked and a wild pitch moved both runners up. Whitten scored on a groundout by Reny and Bushey on a wild pitch.

The Riots made it 5-0 in the fourth and closed their scoring with two in the seventh.

“We had some big hits early that set the tone,” said Owens. “We’re trying to get better each and every day. We’re a work in progress. I’m happy where we’re at but we have a long way to go.”

Portland’s youth and inexperience showed.

“We have seven or eight freshmen and sophomores combined who play,” said DiBiase. “We made some mental errors that we haven’t made. We play some great games and some games we struggle.

“I thought Caleb Fraser pitched better than the score indicated. We have a 3-2 record, which is a pretty good start.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]