FARMINGDALE — Once again, the Hall-Dale baseball team got off to a fast start. Akira Warren made sure it didn’t go to waste.

Warren pitched a shutout in his first start of the season, striking out 12 and leading the Bulldogs to a 6-0 victory over Winthrop, their sixth straight win to open the season.

“We’re very pleased with where we’re at,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “We’ve had four games this week, so this was a game that could have been tiring for the kids and might have gotten a little bit sloppy, but I was very pleased to see the way the kids came out with a good mental focus.”

Warren added to the offensive attack with an RBI double, while Austin Stebbins went 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs. Tim Cookson went 2-for-2 with a double.

Kane Gould, batting out of the ninth spot, went 3-for-3 for Winthrop, which consistently threatened — the Ramblers outhit Hall-Dale 8-7 — but couldn’t find the hits to complete its rallies. Jackson Ladd added a pair of singles and Carson Camick had a double.

“We were threatening to score in almost every inning,” Ramblers coach Marc Fortin said. “Right from the get-go, we had guys on base. We just couldn’t get the key hits.”

Warren had a lot to do with that.

Normally the team’s standout catcher, the sophomore looked just as effective on the mound, baffling Winthrop hitters with a fine curveball and making sure the hits against him were scattered throughout the game. He threw 111 pitches and didn’t seem to tire as the game went on.

“I knew that I had good defense (behind me),” Warren said. “I just kept throwing strikes and letting the defense play.”

Warren also showed he could take care of the Winthrop hitters himself. He found a groove midway through the game, striking out the last batter of the third, all three in the fourth and the first two hitters of the fifth.

“It was my first time out, I hadn’t pitched this season yet, so that felt good. I got used to it,” Warren said. “I got more comfortable, because we had (four) runs by that inning.”

Sinclair didn’t sound surprised by Warren’s success, be it showing that middle-inning dominance or stranding a pair of runners in both the fifth and sixth frames.

“He’s got many different pitches that he can throw for strikes,” Sinclair said. “His breaking ball is one of the best in the league.”

Fortin acknowledged as much afterward.

“We’ve got an attitude that’s ‘never say die,’” Fortin said. “But the kid kept us off-balance today.”

Fast start

Warren helped himself at the plate in the first inning, driving a first-pitch offering from Winthrop starter Ryan Baird to deep left field for a double that scored Stebbins, who had led off with a single.

“Coach tells me to go for the first strike if I want to, so I can take my full swing,” he said. “I felt more comfortable after hitting that because I helped myself out.”

Hall-Dale struck for three more runs in the second to put the game further in its control. Cookson led off with a walk and Logan Dupont reached on an error — one of five the Ramblers committed — and Stebbins laced a single down the third base line into left field to score both runners. Alec Byron followed with a single two batters later to bring in Stebbins and make it 4-0.

“We just know that, right off the bat, we need to win every single inning,” Stebbins said. “Once we do that, I think we’ll be all set.”

The game continued a hot start to the season for Stebbins, who Sinclair said has an on-base percentage over .700 as the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter.

“He’s one of the most talented players in the MVC as a junior,” Sinclair said. “His offensive numbers right now are astronomical.”

Bouncing back

Two more errors hurt Winthrop in the fourth as Stebbins and Byron scored to make the score 6-0. Despite the sloppy play, Fortin sounded confident the team would find its form in the field as the weather improves and allows for more practice time on the diamond.

“I don’t think there’s much to be said about our defense today. … We didn’t play to our ability today, I don’t think,” he said. “We’re hoping (the defense) will (improve) as the season goes on, certainly.”

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