Gio Ruotolo pitched a four-hitter and hit an RBI single during a three-run outburst in the fifth inning as Portland took down previously undefeated Cheverus 3-1 in an SMAA baseball game Saturday at Hadlock Field.

Ruotolo cruised through the first five innings before Cheverus (11-1) broke through in the top of the sixth.

Griffin Watson led off the inning with a single up the middle and Jack Casale followed with a double to right field, driving home Watson to cut Portland’s lead to 3-1.

With their 3-4-5 hitters coming up, the Stags looked primed to do more damage, but Ruotolo struck out Jared Brooks looking, induced a groundout from Maxx St. John and got catcher Logan McCarthy to pop out in foul territory on a nice play near the fence by Portland first baseman Tom Joyce.

“(Cheverus had) the momentum, they (felt) great, then all of a sudden in the seventh inning, after they couldn’t get another run across, 3-1 felt like 9-1,” said Portland Coach Mike Rutherford. “You could see it in their faces, and we knew they had the bottom of the order coming up. They needed (to score) at least one more run (in the sixth inning).”

Ruotolo improved to 5-0. He walked one and struck out six.

“(Ruotolo) pitches to contact and knows he has a great defense behind him,” said Rutherford. “He pitched like an ace, number one. For us to win anything in the playoffs, he’s going to have to win two games. Right now, he’s pitching like one of the best pitchers in the state.”

“I knew I had an undefeated record coming into this game. I knew I had a good defense behind me, and I wanted it a little more than (Cheverus) did,” said Ruotolo.

Portland (9-2) broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth. Don Tocci kicked off the scoring with a triple to right field, driving home Will Snyder, who had singled and advanced to second on a throwing error.

“I was just trying to pull the ball, hit it to the right side of the field to see if I can move (Snyder) over, and I ended up getting a good swing on it,” said Tocci.

Ruotolo then singled to shortstop, scoring Tocci to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. Ruotolo came around to score later in the inning when McCarthy tried to pick him off at second base. Ruotolo took off for third, and the throw bounced and skipped away.

Snyder reached base three times, getting two hits after being hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance.

It was the ninth straight win for Portland after the Bulldogs opened the season with two losses. The Bulldogs have allowed just six runs in their last five games.

“(We need to keep) our heads high and keep staying under the radar,” said Ruotolo. “We just have to keep going.”

Cheverus, meanwhile, has given up more than three runs only once this season.

“We have to forget about this (game) and move on. That’s all we’re talking about right now,” said Cheverus Coach Mac McKew.

Brooks, a senior left-hander, went the distance on the mound for Cheverus. He allowed seven hits, walked one, hit two batters and struck out seven.

“Brooksie was fairly solid, (just) a couple of well-hit balls. Obviously, we unraveled there defensively. What are you going to do? You have to recover from it. We stopped the bleeding with the three runs there and gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game,” said McKew.