Following a sloppy season-opening loss against Biddeford, Coach Mike Rutherford felt it was imperative for his Portland High baseball team to rebound Thursday night.

And that’s just what it did.

Giovanni Ruotolo powered the Bulldogs on the mound and at the plate in a 3-2 victory against Scarborough in an SMAA baseball game at Hadlock Field.

After committing three errors against Biddeford to squander a three-run lead in a 5-3 loss, the Bulldogs – short on experience with most of their starters in their first season – were flawless against the Red Storm.

Ruotolo, a senior making his first career start, spun a four-hitter, finishing with four strikeouts and one walk.

“I felt great today,” he said. “I came out and my arm loosened up (as the game went on). I wasn’t worried because I knew I had good (defense) behind me.

“I absolutely couldn’t have asked for (a better result). I am very pleased with the way I threw.”

Rutherford lauded Ruotolo, his No. 2 starter who allowed two hits in both the third and sixth innings, when the Red Storm scored single runs.

“I didn’t know what I was going to get out of (Ruotolo), but I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Rutherford said. “He also had a big hit … He’s doing everything a senior leader is supposed to do.

“That’s a big win. If we go 0-2, we might start pressing. It was a must-win for us.”

The Bulldogs pushed what proved to be the deciding run across in the fifth inning. Dom Tocci drew a one-out walk and scored on Jake Knop’s RBI double to the left-center field gap for a 3-1 lead.

Zoltan Panyi, the starting picher for Scarborough – which was playing its opener – was pulled after Knop’s double. Panyi went 41/3 innings, allowing four hits and six walks. He struck out six and was charged with three wild pitches. All three runs were earned. Jack Clark didn’t allow any hits in 12/3 innings of relief.

A walk to Will Snyder leading off the fourth led to Portland taking a 2-1 lead. Snyder went to third on Donnie Tocci’s sacrifice when no one was covering the bag. Ruotolo’s single then drove in the run.

Scarborough Coach Mike D’Andrea said Panyi’s control problems are not typical of his teams.

“We want first-pitch strikes, keeping the pitch count down,” D’Andrea said. “However, that’s been his Achilles heel over the last year and a half.

“(But) it’s his first start (of the year) and I am really pleased with the way he competed and kept us in the game.”

Portland opened the scoring in the first when Tom Joyce’s double scored Dom Tocci, who had doubled.

The Red Storm made it 1-1 in the third.

Wyatt Plummer and Zach Alofs, the bottom two hitters in the order, hit back-to-back singles before Nolan Lamontagne’s grounder to second produced the run.

Portland’s defense limited Scarborough to one run in the sixth inning.

Lamontagne opened the inning with a single and stolen base. A sliding catch in foul territory by right fielder Donnie Tocci produced the first out. Morgan Pratt knocked in Lamontagne with a single, but a double play – Dom Tocci to Knop to Joyce – cut short the rally.

“I think we have the best defensive team around,” Rutherford said.

“We can run in the outfield (and) if a team hits it on the ground, it’s going to be an out. That’s our strength.”