Thornton Academy’s Ben Lambert fires a pitch during Thursday’s season opener against Deering. Lambert struck out eight in the win.

Thornton Academy’s Ben Lambert fires a pitch during Thursday’s season opener against Deering. Lambert struck out eight in the win.

PORTLAND — Stout pitching and strong offense pushed the Thornton Academy baseball team past host Deering 9-2 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Ben Lambert was the difference for the Trojans. In 6 1/3 innings pitched, Lambert allowed just one run on eight hits while striking out eight batters.

Lambert was happy to get the win and shared the credit with his teammates.

“It feels good. In the time I have been (at TA) we haven’t won our opener so it’s good. I wasn’t on my real game today, I wasn’t throwing real well. Luckily the guys backed me up and got a bunch of hits,” said Lambert.

TA coach Ray Petit was also happy with his team’s performance.

“It’s important to come out and get that first win, especially considering it’s a 16-game schedule. Deering is always a well-coached team with Josh (Stowell) so it was a big win for them,” said Petit.

TA got on the board first, getting two runs in the second inning. The first came on a passed ball which scored Evan Balzano, who lead the inning off with a double. Later, Brandon Hall scored on a throwing error.

Lambert got into some trouble in the third inning, giving up a run on a double from Deering’s Jake Latini. With two men on, Lambert collected himself and escaped the inning with a strikeout.

Petit reminded Lambert why he is the Trojans’ ace on the hill.

“I told him, ‘you’re one of the best pitchers in this league so attack these guys … show them what you can do,’” said Petit.

The Trojan bats took off in the fourth inning, starting with hits coming from Balzano and Hall. Joshua LePauloue then laid down a bunt that turned into an overthrow at first to score a run.

The TA lead mounted after a bases-loaded walk to bring the score to 4-1, followed up by a sacrifice fly by Zachary Ham to extend the lead to 5-1. The sixth run was scored on an RBI double from Luke Chessie giving TA a 6-1 lead.

Lambert continued to impress, allowing only one more hit the rest of the way. In the top of the seventh, the Trojans earned three more runs on a bases-clearing single from Andrew Coleman.

Brogan Searle-Belanger pitched the final two outs, and although Deering added a run in the seventh, it was not enough to push TA.

Although Lambert pitched a strong six innings, he was impressed with Deering’s bats.

“(Petit) told me to keep it low in the zone because they were hitting everything high. (Deering) hit well today, they hit the ball hard and put it in play,” said Lambert.

Petit was pleased with his offense’s outburst.

“Sometimes when (Lambert) is pitching we tend to not to things well with our bats because we expect him to carry us. We lost control a little bit early, we were playing tight. But we got better and loosened up a bit,” said Petit.

Although Thursday’s opener was a good start, Petit hopes to see some improvements moving forward.

“We need to play better defensively. We need to get better situationally. It’s important to keep the ball down … if we play well defensively, and keep the ball down, good things will happen,” said Petit.

Sports Staff Writer Alex Sponseller can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 323. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @ JournalTsports.

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