After an 0-3 start, the Kennebunk baseball team won its third straight Wednesday with a 2-1 victory against Wells.
The win vaulted the Rams from ninth to first in the Western Class A Heal point standings – which often are volatile early in the season because teams haven’t played many games.
The key victory came Monday, 1-0 against Poland, the top-ranked team in Western Class B.
Sophomore Eric Aiken pitched a no-hitter against Poland – on his birthday, no less. He had three strikeouts and three walks.
Caleb Burpee provided the run with a homer in the second inning, and the Rams played strong defense.
Catcher Kip Richard picked off two runners, the first one at second base early in the game and the second at first base that stopped a potential big inning in the sixth.
“Eric throws a lot of strikes, and his change-up and curve were working against Poland,” said Kennebunk Coach Brian Dill. “He kept them off balance.”
The win over Poland avenged a 17-7 opening-game loss.
Kennebunk wasn’t at full strength for its first two games, including a 12-5 loss at Greely, because several starters were on a trip during April school vacation and had to sit out a game when they returned.
Dill has a policy that any player who goes on vacation has to sit out a game in respect to the players who continued to practice.
Kennebunk fell to 0-3 with a 10-6 loss to York on April 30. The Rams started their rebound May 2 with a 9-1 victory against Lake Region.
Twelve teams qualify for the Western Class A playoffs.
“We’re finally getting it going and regrouping from vacation,” said Dill. “I feel we’re headed in the right direction. We’re in a better frame of mind.”
The team also is starting to hit. Burpee is batting .438. Aiken, who plays third when he isn’t pitching, has two doubles and a homer. Nick Emmons, one of the team’s top players, is also hitting.
Kennebunk has four games next week, including two with Falmouth, which is ranked ninth in Western Class A.
The Rams are home Monday against Falmouth, then travel to play the Yachtsmen on May 17. In between they play at York next Wednesday, then are home against Cape Elizabeth on May 16.
Kennebunk and Falmouth are Class A schools in baseball who are Western Maine Conference members and play a Class B regular-season schedule.
Dill feels he has the pitching depth to handle next week’s schedule. He will have Ben Lary, Emmons, Robbie Burns and Aiken available, and perhaps a few more arms.
BANGOR HIGH senior Justin Courtney, one of the state’s top pitchers, has a full scholarship to play baseball at the University of Maine.
Last summer he had pro scouts take notice during the state American Legion tournament while hitting 90 mph on the radar gun.
An ankle injury in preseason combined with a cold spring has contributed to a slow start. But with the weather starting to heat up, Courtney’s fastball could start luring scouts back to his games.
“I know there’s been some discussion about Justin from the scouts,” said Bangor Coach Jeff Fahey. “I think it was the result of his performance last summer. I haven’t seen anyone who looks like a scout at our games yet.”
Bangor has a strong team and could go deep into the playoffs. Courtney will get plenty of chances to pitch. Baseball’s free-agent draft will be June 5-7.
Fahey said Courtney reminds him a lot of Matt Kinney, a former Bangor pitcher who played five years in the majors for four teams. Kinney, 37, is now the head coach at Hermon High. Fahey was an assistant coach for the Rams when Kinney pitched.
“They throw similarly and are very good athletes,” said Fahey. “Justin is very even-tempered and mechanically sound.”
Courtney was a finalist for the Travis Roy Award in hockey and played soccer in the fall.
SOUTH PORTLAND and Biddeford, who played each other Thursday – South Portland won 10-0 to likely take over first place in the Heal standings – are off to fast starts in the wide-open SMAA.
South Portland Coach Mike Owens said before the season he thought the team would do well if the offense came alive. So far, so good for the Red Riots (6-0), who scored seven runs Tuesday in the second inning of an 8-6 victory over Bonny Eagle.
Freshman Sam Troiano, who sparked the inning with a two-run double, has been a nice addition to the team.
“I knew Sam was good but I didn’t know he would be this good so early,” said Owens.
Senior Robert Graff has been outstanding on the mound while providing strong offense. Brad Sowerby has a 2-0 record. Zach Marles also has pitched well. Jon Vickers, another veteran, has contributed offensively and defensively.
Going into the season, Owens felt comfortable with his pitching staff, saying it was the deepest staff he’s had at South Portland.
It had been 30 years since Diana Walker coached lacrosse, although not for a lack of desire. The longtime Sanford field hockey coach is making up for lost time this spring.
Walker, who competed in lacrosse at Plymouth State and was last an assistant coach there in 1984, succeeded Matt Petermann at Sanford.
“I’ve always loved the sport but it wasn’t a high school sport in Maine for so long,” Walker said. “And then when they finally put it in I was coaching track at Massabesic and my daughter was on the team, so I wanted to finish that. I kept thinking (the Sanford job) would open up. Finally when it did, I said to my husband, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to coach lacrosse and I really want it.’
“I’m excited. I love it and the kids have been really receptive to some new things that I’ve been putting in.”
Walker has coached field hockey at Sanford for 31 years and continues to do so. She also has coached track and basketball.
The Spartans are 1-3 after Thursday’s loss at Bonny Eagle. Walker said coaching a new sport that is old hat for her has been relatively seamless, although there have been some rule changes over time that have caused her to adjust.
“It’s the basic catch, cradle, score,” she said. “As far as the lines on the field and some of the different calls that there are now, I’m learning. Sometimes when I’m telling the kids what to do, they’ll say, ‘Coach, we can’t do that, we’re going to get called.’ ”
– Staff writer Mark Emmert contributed to this report
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: