Jacob Sladen proved a success in his first varsity start Friday, pitching Gorham to a 5-2 victory against Cheverus in an SMAA baseball opener.

A junior right-hander, Sladen limited the Stags to three hits. He struck out four, walked one, hit a batter, uncorked a wild pitch and committed a balk in his complete-game debut.

“He was cruising,” Gorham Coach Chuck Nadeau said. “He was throwing all three of his pitches for strikes. He had a little hiccup in the third inning, when he threw a wild pitch and had a balk, but other than that he pitched clean. For his first varsity start he showed a lot of poise.”

“I thought their guy mixed his pitches up and kept us off balance the whole game, mixing his curveball and his fastball,” Cheverus Coach Mac McKew said.

Sladen felt so comfortable that he didn’t want the game to end.

“I was throwing off-speed pretty well and hitting my spots with my fastball, and they couldn’t hit it,” he said. “It felt pretty good. I just didn’t want to stop throwing.”

“To have Jacob Sladen go out and give us that type of performance was really, really encouraging,” Nadeau said.

The Rams took a 1-0 lead in the first. With two outs, Kyle King reached on a dropped fly ball in right, stole second and scored when Will Prescott doubled into the left-field corner.

Gorham added two unearned runs in the second. With one out, Joey Curesky walked and stole second. With two outs, Ben Nelson reached on shortstop Griffin Watson’s throwing error and stole second. David Drew slammed a single up the middle to make it 3-0.

Cheverus scored both of its runs in the third. Chris Cimino led off with a single, moved up on a wild pitch and, after reaching third on a grounder, scored on a wild pitch. With two outs, Justin Ray doubled into the gap in right, advanced on Maxx St. John’s infield hit and scored on a balk.

After picking St. John off second base to end the third, Sladen retired the next 11 batters before walking Hayden O’Donnell with two outs in the seventh.

“I was just thinking positive (after the third inning), and just went back out there and did my thing,” he said.

Gorham added two runs in the seventh. With two outs, Prescott hit a single up the middle and came around to score when Lucas Roop’s wind-blown fly to right ticked off St. John’s glove for a triple. Trevor Loubier followed with an infield hit to score Roop.

A blustery wind affected play.

“That was a significant wind,” Nadeau said. “It’s tough to hit in. It’s tough to pitch in. It’s tough to run the bases in and quite honestly, it’s tough to sit on the bench and watch it.”

The Stags committed four errors while Gorham didn’t commit any.

“We talked before the game and we knew the team who played the best defense would win the game on a day like this,” McKew said. “Obviously we were by far the weakest defensive team.”

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