Morse’s Jackson Walker delivers a pitch during Friday’s high school baseball game between the Shipbuilders and Lake Region. Walker struck out 15 batters in leading Morse to its first win of the season, 6-1 win. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

BATH — While no raindrops fell during Friday’s high school baseball game between Class B schools Morse and Lake Region, the air was still a little cool, already making it hard for hitters to grip the bat.

What made matters worse for the hitters were the arms of Morse’s Jackson Walker and Isaac Holland of Lake Region. The two combined to strike out 27 batters, but it was Walker’s Shipbuilders that took advantage of early walks and pulled away late with a 6-1 victory over the Lakers.

Morse improved to 1-1 under first-year coach Niko Ruiz, while Lake Region fell to 1-1 after a season-opening win against Cape Elizabeth earlier in the week.

“It feels good to get the win,” Ruiz said. “It was great to see everyone in the lineup contribute today. We put the ball in play today and that was huge for us.”

Jackson was stellar on the mound as he was near perfect to start. Over the the first five innings, two runners reached base on infield errors, but Jackson was able to pick one of them off as the senior righty faced just one batter over the minimum through five innings (16). He allowed only one hit, a single to lead off the sixth, while walking one.

Morse took advantage of three straight walks to open its half of the first inning. After Holland replaced the starter, Jackson promptly roped a single to right-center field, plating Gabe Aucoin and Ty Knowlton with the first runs of the game.

“The first couple of games always seems to be the same thing. If you can throw strikes and make one or two above average plays, you’re probably going to beat a very good squad,” Lake Region coach Andrew Stacy said. “As you can see, both teams did that today for six innings and it was a very good baseball game. It’s tough when your starter comes out and walks three straight guys. He’s new to varsity, so we knew these could happen, so we brought in our number one and he pitched a great game.”

After a Morse runner was tagged out in a rundown, Holland fanned the next two hitters to hold the damage to two runs.

Morse’s Ty Knowlton dives back into first base ahead of Lake Region’s Mark Mayo’s tag during Friday’s high school baseball game in Bath. Morse downed the Lakers, 6-1. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Walker struck out the next five hitters he faced, using precise pitch location and efficient 0-2 pitches, keeping the hitters off balance.

“Him and Ty were in sync the whole game. They meshed really well today,” Ruiz said. “(Jackson) had trust in his stuff and he trusted Ty enough behind the plate to catch or block whatever he threw. That’s what you need from your starting pitcher and catcher.”

When Jackson and his catcher weren’t striking out Lakers hitters, his defense behind him came up with the plays.

“He’s an exceptional catcher, I trusted everything he called, he did a great job behind the plate,” Walker said of his catching. Everyone out in the field did great. You can have all those strikeouts, but you still need to make the plays in the field.”

Still trailing 2-0, Lake Region was able to put runners on in the sixth and threat for a big inning. Lake Region’s Dan Symonds led off the frame by striking out, but his swing and a miss on a ball in the dirt and an errant throw to first base put the runner on. Jackson walked the next hitter and fanned the following batter as the order came back to the top for the third time around.

Erik Christiansen then hit a chopper up the first base line, but Knowlton’s throw bounced away from first baseman Boden Gould, allowing Symonds to come around and score for the Lakers.

After Christiansen stole second, Walker struck out the final two batters of the inning, stranding runners on second and third.

“He threw well, he was dottin’ the zone and a big thing that was going very well was he was elevating it, and when you can do that, it’s hard to get on top of it,” Stacy said.

With a slim 2-1 lead, the Morse hitters looked for insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Walker started things off with a lead off single. After a lengthy at bat, Tom Warren dropped a single into right-center and Brogan Shaw followed with a walk to load the bases. Holland struck out the next hitter, but a ground out to second by Gould plated Morse’s third run of the contest.

Reaching his pitch count, Holland was relieved by Mark Mayo and Asa Hodgdon greeted him with single, scoring Warren. Brenton Cahill (single) and Knowlton (double) each followed with RBI hits to extend the ’Builders lead to 6-1.

“It was nice to get runs early and work with the lead, but it was huge getting those runs late when we were only up by a run. We came alive late, it took a lot of pressure,” Walker said.

Walker closed it out in the top of the seventh, striking out a pair, the last on his 99th pitch to earn the complete game.

“Jackson pitched very well today. He hit his spots and again, worked well with Ty,” Ruiz said.

Walker was the lone repeat hitter, while knocking in two runs. Knowlton reached base three times with a pair of walks to go with his two-bagger and Aucoin had a walk, stolen base and a run scored in the victory.

Holland finished with 12 strikeouts, allowing three hits while walking five Morse hitters.

Morse hosts the 2-0 Mt. Ararat Eagles on Monday at 4 p.m.

Morse’s Brogan Shaw makes a throw to first base during Friday’s high school baseball game against Lake Region in Bath. The Shipbuilder won their first game of the season with a 6-1 win. (Erc Maxim / The Times Record) 

 

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