Caitlin Minear didn’t mind having to sit in the dugout for a while Thursday during the Merrimack High School softball team’s game at Bishop Guertin

The more the Tomahawks pitcher sat meant the more runs her teammates were putting on the board for her.

Merrimack scored four in the top of the first inning and three in the seventh while Minear shut down the Cardinals’ bats in between on the way to an 8-4 win in Division I action.

Minear, who didn’t allow a hit until there were two out in the fifth, went the distance, striking out four while allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks.

Brittany Camara and Renne LeClaire each had three hits and drove in three runs, but it was a three-run double by Jackson Gutekunst in the first inning that got things going early for Merrimack (5-5).

“It’s so much easier,” Minear said of pitching with an early lead. “Our coach (Jim Peltak) has given us a lot of pep talks about coming out with three or four runs in the first inning, and it definitely helped, especially toward the end.”

Kristina Terrazzano took the loss for the Cardinals (6-3), as she allowed four runs on four hits and seven walks in five innings. That included four walks and a hit batter in the first inning, which accounted for the Tomahawks’ first run of the game.

Then, with the bases loaded and two outs, Gutekunst crushed a ball into the left-center field gap – Merrimack’s only hit of the first – to clear the bases and make it 4-0.

“In this division, when you do a couple of little things wrong, they turn into big advantages for the other team,” Bishop Guertin coach Nicole Adamson said. “When you string two or three together, and there’s contact in there, too, it’s going to happen. But one inning for the other team shouldn’t be the whole game.

“A couple of bad angles or not going strong in the batter’s box early in the game, but these girls have so much character, they never gave up. Even in the last inning, they’re putting runs on the board.”

But by then, the Tomahawks’ lead was too much to overcome, and Minear had just enough left in the tank at the end, thanks to an extra day of rest.

“We had back-to-back games, so we rested Minear (Wednesday) against Concord knowing that we’d probably struggle in that game,” Peltak said. “I wanted her fresh for this game and she proved that I made a good decision.”

Bishop Guertin threatened to get back in it with one out in the sixth, as Minear hit Tori Dubois and Holly Kathios to put runners at first and second. Gina Pustizzi followed with a double to score Dubois and make it a 5-2 lead for the Tomahawks, but Minear battled to get the final two outs.

Merrimack put three across in the seventh on a two-run double by Camara and an RBI single by LeClaire, giving the Tomahawks’ pitcher plenty of room to work.

“I think things still felt good, but I was struggling a little bit (at the end),” Minear said. “I felt real good (Thursday). They’re a very good hitting team, too. I came so far, and I believe in my team, defensively and offensively. That really helps, having the people behind me to back up.”