PORTLAND – Nate Boyle pitched a five-hit shutout, and Windham continued its strong start Thursday night, beating Portland 2-0 in an SMAA baseball game at Hadlock Field.
Windham has won five straight since losing its opener to undefeated Marshwood.
Boyle, a senior right-hander, was overpowering at times with his fastball. He mixed in a good curve and got stronger as the game progressed. He ended it with a strikeout with runners on second and third.
The Eagles scored in the third and again in the seventh.
Portland loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Boyle got a grounder to end the threat. The Bulldogs didn’t threaten again until the seventh.
“Nate pitched a heck of a game,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes. “He had a lot of confidence with his curveball in the last four innings. That was the difference. Portland is a very good team. They will be there at the end. It’s good to get them early.
“This is a good Heal point win against a quality team. We play them again in our last game. We’ll see what happens then.”
Of Boyle’s seven strikeouts, four came in the last two innings, including three in the seventh.
“My fastball was working tonight,” said Boyle. “I was just trying to locate it inside and out. This puts us in a good spot heading into next week. The biggest thing for us is to stay confident. When we keep our heads up, we usually play well.”
The Eagles made it 1-0 in the third. Tanner Laberge led off with a single, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and then scored on another passed ball.
With the way Boyle was pitching, the run in the seventh was huge.
Windham made it 2-0 when Laberge singled up the middle to knock in pinch-runner Jake Mello.
The Eagles got a runner to third in the fifth, but a diving catch by Portland right fielder Chip Weber ended the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Weber led off with a single and stole second. After a strikeout, pinch-hitter Travis Godbout walked and both runners moved up a base when the Eagles had a lapse on defense despite a Boyle strikeout.
But Boyle had one more strikeout in him and got it to end the Bulldogs’ hopes.
Nate Smart of Portland allowed six hits and had six strikeouts before being relieved with two outs in the seventh.
“It was a great game,” said Portland Coach Tony DiBiase. “We had our chances but we couldn’t come up with the key hit. We just didn’t get enough baserunners to put pressure on them until the end.
“Their kid pitched very well. He throws the ball hard and it was moving a lot, which surprised our hitters a little bit. I was happy with the way we competed and I was happy with the way Nate Smart pitched.
“We have two quality starters. The league is wide open. I think the regular season will come right down to the wire. I don’t think one team will separate itself from the pack.”
Windham showed excellent speed on the bases with five steals.
“We’ve done a nice job so far this season utilizing our speed in the right situations,” said Artes.
Windham catcher Jack Herzig showed his arm by throwing out a baserunner attempting to steal second in the sixth.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: