HERMON — Pitchers always like to get ahead of hitters in the count. It gives them more flexibility when it comes to pitch selection.
Mount Desert Island High School senior righthander Ben Walls pitched an impressive five-hit complete game, throwing 64 strikes among his 93 pitches, to lead MDI to a 4-1 victory over Hermon Thursday afternoon.
The Husson University-bound Walls threw 19 first-pitch strikes to the 26 hitters he faced and he finished with nine strikeouts and two walks. All of the hits off him were singles.
His mates played errorless ball behind him.
MDI snapped a two-game losing streak and is now 7-3.
Hermon fell to 3-5.
“This was my best game of the season,” said Walls, who improved to 3-2. “My stuff was pretty good. I felt pretty good today. It was a nice day to throw.”
He said he was able to spot his fastball effectively and also used his curve and changeup although he added that “my curve was a little off.”
“He threw a bunch of first-pitch strikes and that helped him out a lot,” said Hermon pitcher Will Perkins. “He had a pretty good fastball and his curve was decent. He kept us off-balance.”
Perkins allowed four runs in the first two innings but settled down and pitched three scoreless innings before Kyle Wyman finished up with two innings of two-hit shutout ball.
MDI took a 1-0 lead in the first when Jon Phelps dropped an opposite-field single into right center, stole second and scored when Adam Gray lofted another opposite-field single into right center.
MDI added three in the second triggered by Steven Hanscom’s sharp line-drive single to left.
Dylan Carroll walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch before Ryan Littlefield, the number nine hitter, poked another opposite-field single down the right-field line to deliver both runs.
“[Perkins] threw me an outside fastball. I usually hit to the opposite field,” said Littlefield.
“[Littlefield] has had some big hits for us,” said MDI coach Mike Swanson. “He’s one of the better number nine hitters around. He fights off pitches, puts the ball in play and he has walked a bunch.”
Phelps walked and Littlefield scored when they worked a double steal and no one covered second on catcher Connor Farmer’s throw.
Perkins, who had an elbow injury two weeks before the season, struck out the side in the third and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth to keep his team within striking distance. He allowed four hits during his five-inning stint with seven strikeouts and eight walks. He threw 117 pitches, 63 for strikes.
Kyle Wyman allowed two hits over the final two innings.
Hermon, which had just three baserunners through the first four innings, reached Walls for its run in the fifth.
Joey Martin lined a single to center and stole second before Farmer walked.
Martin moved to third on Jeremy Beaulieu’s fly ball to center and scored on Josh Wilson’s sacrifice fly to right.
But Walls got a strikeout to strand Farmer.
Walls surrendered a leadoff bunt single to Tyler Thayer in the sixth and a two-out base hit to Beaulieu in the seventh.
“The key is we didn’t make any errors,” said Swanson. “We made a few mental errors but no [physical] errors. We play better defense behind Ben because he throws strikes and works ahead in the count. They hit some good shots to the outfield but we were positioned in the right place and made the plays.”
“We just didn’t get timely hits,” said Hermon coach Aaron Brideau. “Nothing dropped in for us and they had some stuff drop in for them.”
Phelps had two singles and was the game’s only repeat hitter. There were no extra-base hits in the game.