Mike Rutherford has coached against Mike D’Andrea long enough to know that if his Portland Bulldogs gave D’Andrea’s Falmouth Navigators extra outs Thursday afternoon, it wouldn’t end well for the Bulldogs.

Walks and errors in the first and third innings allowed Falmouth to score five unearned runs, and that was more than enough for crafty Navigators left-hander Eli Cowperthwaite, who threw a two-hitter while leading his team to a 6-0 victory at Hadlock Field.

“I just told the guys that we should still be playing,” Rutherford said. “It should be the top of the eighth and it should be 0-0.”

Falmouth (3-0) jumped out to a three-run lead in the top of the first, with a little help. After Miles Gay worked a four-pitch walk off Portland starter Liam Fay-LeBlanc, Ethan Hendry reached on a third strike in the dirt, and both runners scored when Patrick Gill doubled to deep left-center. Tyler Simmons followed with a bloop single to right, driving home Gill.

A similar script played out in the top of the third. Brady Coyne drew a leadoff walk, and with one out, Hendry reached on an error. Simmons then delivered again with two outs, singling to left-center to drive in a pair and make it 5-0.

Cowperthwaite, meanwhile, struck out 11 in the first five innings, including the side in both the first and fifth.

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The Navigators added a run in the sixth as Coyne again opened the inning with a walk, advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout, then scored on a wind-aided, two-out single by Gill.

Falmouth reliever Brennan Rumpf close out the victory in the seventh.

“Eli had good command today and he had good stuff,” D’Andrea said. “They had a couple mishaps and we took advantage of (them). We were fortunate to have those extra opportunities and we capitalized on them today.”

Cowperthwaite finished with 13 strikeouts.

“It was just a great experience to pitch (at Hadlock Field) and do what I did,’ said Cowperthwaite. “They hit the ball a little in the first inning, then I settled in. I used my fastball and curveball and relied on Ethan. He’s a great catcher.”

“Ethan did an outstanding job for a sophomore,” D’Andrea added. “He blocked balls and made throws on the money. That’s what we have to do to win games.”

Fay-LeBlanc was the hard-luck loser for Portland (2-1-1), as he gave up five unearned runs.

“We knew Cowperthwaite was good, but we had two errors and messed up communication in the outfield on a routine fly ball, and for us, we have to be perfect defensively,” Rutherford said.

“I like being 2-1-1 after four games. We’ve been competitive in every game.”


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