YORK — Dawson Gundlah collected three hits and Trevor LaBonte pitched a four-hitter Thursday to lead York to a 5-1 victory against Sacopee Valley in a Western Maine Conference baseball game.
LaBonte walked three and struck out nine for the Wildcats, who are expected to be a contender in Class B South.
“We just wanted to pour it into the strike zone and let the defense play, pitch to contact, and our defense played really well today,” said LaBonte.
The top three batters in the lineup for Sacopee Valley (1-1) went 0 for 10 with six strikeouts. The bottom four batters went 3 for 8 with three walks.
“(We) weren’t overmatched. I guess that’s the biggest positive I saw out of (the game),” said Sacopee Coach Chris Burnell, whose team is the reigning Class C state champion.
LaBonte ran into trouble in the second inning after getting the side in order in the first. The Hawks loaded the bases with one out before their No. 8 batter, Travis Weeks, reached on an infield single toward shortstop, driving in Peter Cates.
“I think it was nothing more than (LaBonte) being amped up. It’s his senior year, he got a lot of accolades last year, so I think he’s trying to live up to those accolades when all he really needs to do is trust his mechanics and throw,” said York Coach Chuck Chadbourne.
“I thought he was incredibly efficient (in the third, fourth and fifth innings).”
LaBonte only needed a total of 22 pitches to get through those three innings.
Gundlah ripped a pair of doubles, including one that drove in a run to kick-start a three-run third for York (2-0).
“I was seeing (the ball) well but I know we’re going to face better, so it was good to get the confidence up a little bit,” said Gundlah.
With Gunlah on second base and Timothy McDonald on third with one out, Andrew Rodrigues laced a double to the gap in left-center, giving the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Cates drew the start for Sacopee, which is dealing with injuries to its top pitchers.
Sophomore Dylan Miner has a broken thumb and senior Brandon Burnell, who went 7-1 last season, is awaiting an MRI on his elbow. The Hawks are worried Burnell may have a torn his ulnar collateral ligament.
“(Brandon) could need Tommy John (surgery),” said Coach Burnell.
Cates allowed five runs, four earned, and 10 hits in six innings.
“To be competitive against a team like (York) with our No. 4 (or) No. 5 pitcher, I thought we played well. About as good as we could play,” said Burnell.
The Wildcats had 10 hits but left seven runners on base.
“I’m disappointed with our offense. Fly balls, we’re not getting on top of the ball, and it’s stuff we preach and work on, said Chadbourne.
“But we’re young, four sophomores and a freshman starting today, so we have to deal with it.”
Jack Kelley, hitting out of the No. 8 spot in for York, collected a pair of hits, including a double.