WINDHAM — When Coach Mike Rutherford looked at the schedule and saw Portland’s first two opponents, his reaction was obvious.

“We couldn’t have drawn a worst schedule,” said Rutherford, returning to the Portland dugout after a nine-year absence.

Worst as in toughest. The Bulldogs’ first two games were against Marshwood, the Western Class A runner-up, and Windham, the defending Western Class A champion.

And, Portland has only two returning starters (catcher/pitcher Ryan Ruhlin and designated hitter Joe Fusco) and the balance of the team is from last year’s junior varsity.

Well, no need for the concern. Those two games are in the books and Portland is 2-0.

On Tuesday, the Bulldogs jumped on Windham early, building a 3-0 lead and then holding on for a 4-2 win. Windham was playing its first game of the season.

The Eagles might have been feeling opening-game jitters even though standout Tanner Laberge started. Granted, the Eagles are inexperienced just like the Bulldogs. They graduated the bulk of the team that lost to Bangor in last year’s state final. Three starters are back – Laberge, Josh Dugas and Zach Alpern.

“Everyone else on this team was either on the varsity bench or played (junior varsity) last year,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes. “We’re a work in progress.”

Even with an inexperienced group, Rutherford acknowledged, “We have a real good, young team. But we have to play hard every game.”

The Rutherford influence has already paid dividends. The Bulldogs know how to play small ball. They move runners along by bunting. They look to run and take the extra base whenever possible.

Rutherford’s first stint as varsity coach at Portland was from 1995 to 2006. His 1998 club won the state title. He didn’t coach in 2007 before getting the Westbrook varsity job in 2008. He stayed through the 2011 season. In 16 years as a varsity coach, Rutherford’s team played in 10 Western Maine finals and went 3-7.

Leading 3-2, Portland added an insurance run as sophomore Jake Knop led off with a single in the fourth. Dom Tocci, another sophomore, put down a sacrifice bunt, and when the Windham third baseman ventured too far off the bag and was late getting back, Knop legged it to third, sliding under the tag. Moments later, Knop scored on a wild pitch.

Laberge, who no-hit Marshwood in last year’s regional final, didn’t have his best stuff against the Bulldogs. He threw three wild pitches, two of which allowed runs to score. His fastball was working, but his off-speed stuff often ended up in the dirt.

“Tanner didn’t have his best stuff,” said Artes. “He was a little rusty.”

Knop led off the game with a double, was sacrificed to third by Tocci and scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. The Bulldogs made it 2-0 the next inning as Fusco led off with a single and scored on Charles Barnard’s double to left field. Portland made it 3-0 in the third on John Williams’ single that scored Tucci.

Windham scored twice in the third on RBI singles by Laberge and Alpern. In the fifth, Knop led off with a single, was sacrificed to second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.

Both teams had their chances for more runs. Portland left seven men on base; Windham left nine.

“Beating Marshwood gave us a lot of confidence,” said Ruhlin.

“No one expected us to be 2-0. We’ve had clutch hitting and played outstanding defense.”

And the Bulldogs received top pitching from the same combination in both games – Dan Marzilli, the starter, and Ruhlin, the regular catcher, the reliever.

“Ryan Ruhlin got the save in the Marshwood game and the win today against Windham,” said Rutherford.