By Al Pike
NORTH BERWICK, Maine — Getting the ball on opening day is a thrill for any pitcher, never mind a sophomore making his first varsity start. Nate Curtis earned the honor for what he did in the days leading up to Thursday's opener, and he didn't disappoint.
Showing the same consistency, composure and control he had in his final preseason tuneup, the lanky right-hander worked 5.1 strong innings as the Marshwood High School baseball team defeated Noble, 7-2, in a matchup of Class A South rivals.
"It was pretty big," Curtis said of getting the nod on opening day. "I've never had anything like that before. I've just kind of gone in the game and thrown. Hopefully I can keep it going." Curtis struck out five, walked one and scattered five hits. The only run he gave up came home on a throwing error. He was lifted three batters into the sixth with two on and one out.
Senior Keith Dorr came on in relief and escaped the jam unscathed. He finished up to secure Curtis's first varsity win.
"He's smooth," Marshwood coach Eric Fernandes said of Curtis. "He was never really in a rattled moment. There was a lot of consistency in his pitching." "He threw strikes," said Noble coach Adam Hale.
Offensively, the Hawks scored four times in the second when they batted around. Zach Doyon keyed the rally with a two-run single to left-center that made it 4-0. Marshwood also scored in the second when Cole McDaniel was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. That was followed by a bases-loaded walk to Maverick Holden Jackman that forced in another run as Noble starter Owen Bick struggled with his control.
The Knights' downfall began when they allowed a pop-fly off the bat of Nick Landis to land untouched between the pitcher's mound and home plate. "It's early," Hale said, "but we've got to do a better job throwing strikes and making routine plays."
Curtis also batted clean-up and contributed offensively with a walk and a double in five trips to the plate. He doubled in the sixth and scored the Hawks' final run on an infield grounder by Jeremy Jacques.
Pitching-wise, Curtis has been working on his mechanics, and the results were evident Thursday. "It actually came together pretty well today," Curtis said. "I felt like I was throwing a lot better than I have been. It was nice to come out and win the first one."
Pinch hitter Hunter Carignan had an RBI single in the third that scored Maverick Jack Cahill, who reached on a double, and CJ Davis singled in a run in the fourth to put Marshwood up 6-0.
Doyon and Landis each had a pair of hits for the Hawks.
"When we made mistakes," Hale said, "they made us pay for it every time."
Noble's Matt Chambers had two hits, reached base three times and scored twice. Relievers Nick Cosgrove and Jake Lacroix held the Hawks to three runs over the final five innings. Lacroix worked his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the seventh without allowing a run.
"No matter what team you play," Fernandes said, "if you throw strikes and throw the leather you can grind out at-bats against anybody."