SOUTH PORTLAND – Andrew Richards often pitches economical games, with a lot of strikes and few walks. Richards, a junior right-hander for South Portland High, was at his best Tuesday in a game that was played in 1 hour, 24 minutes.

Richards was downright stingy, allowing one hit and no walks with seven strikeouts to lead the Red Riots to a 2-0 victory over Portland in a Telegram League baseball game at Wainwright Field.

Richards, who improved to 4-1, allowed a leadoff single to Ben DiBiase in the third. DiBiase reached second base on a passed ball, and got there again in the fifth on a throwing error, but that was as close as he came. Richards set the Bulldogs (6-4) down in order five times.

South Portland (7-3) scored in the first inning and added an insurance run in the sixth.

“That’s usually how my games go when I’m pitching well,” said Richards. “I throw three or four warm-up pitches between innings. I don’t have overpowering stuff, but I keep the ball low.”

The Red Riots’ defense gets plenty of action behind Richards because he lets opponents hit the ball.

“We usually play good defense behind him,” said Coach Tony DiBiase. “Andrew is a very good pitcher in this league. He gives you a quality start every time. Andrew was at his best today.”

Portland left-hander Adam Gould also pitched well, allowing five hits, but the Riots got on base enough to push across two runs.

South Portland put its first two batters on in the bottom of the first on an error and a hit batsman. Zach Horton then grounded a single between first and second to score Paul Reny. When the throw home got away from catcher Jason Strauss, Mike Foley tried to score but was thrown out as Strauss tossed to Gould covering the plate.

Richards set the Bulldogs down in order in the first and second. DiBiase led off the top of the third with a sharp base hit to left, but Richards left DiBiase at second by getting the next three batters on an infield pop-up, a strikeout and a ground out.

“I left the ball up on the base hit,” said Richards. “I kept the ball down low and used a fastball, curve and change-up. My curve was better than my last game and I changed speeds pretty well.”

The Riots made it 2-0 in the sixth. Leadoff batter Ryan Curit beat out an infield grounder for a hit. He then beat a throw to second after he was caught off first base.

Curit moved to third on a fielder’s choice and then slid home ahead of a throw to the plate on a infield bouncer by Matt Lee.

The win provided the Riots with valuable Heal points.

“There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but this was a huge win,” said DiBiase. “Portland has beaten Westbrook and Deering. It’s going to be worth some Heal points.

“With the league so balanced, every win is important. This is the year they could have used 10 teams qualifying for the tournament instead of eight.”

Portland Coach Mike McCullum said his team needs to put runners on base and move them around to be successful. The Bulldogs have been doing that so far this season, but were stopped cold this time by a hot pitcher.

“Both pitchers did well, but Richards was ahead of the batters the whole game,” McCullum said. “South Portland put runners on base and got them around.”

Richards, who has been the Riots’ opening-game starter the last two seasons, ranked this game among his best at South Portland.

“I came in relief against Westbrook in the playoffs and got the save. That was a good one, too,” he said.

“Hopefully, this win will bump us up in the standings. We’ve been around seventh place so far.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]


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