BERNARDSVILLE – Coming off its first losing season since 2011, the Bernards High School baseball team, currently sitting 0-2 in the uber-competitive Valley Division, got an encouraging, albeit imperfect, pitching performance to even out its record on Saturday afternoon.

Bernards (2-2) gave up 13 runs in its first three games, but right-hander Ryan Tantleff tossed four scoreless innings, allowing only one run and one walk, as the Mountaineers topped Bound Brook 9-3.

Justin Fuls, Daniel Ball and Robbie Holmes each pitched an inning of relief for the Mountaineers and even though the pitching staff threw more balls than what’s ideal, it was an encouraging sign going forward.

“The idea is we have to be more efficient on the mound, if we’re more efficient on the mound, there’s going to be some games for us,” Bernards coach Jeff Falzarano said. “We can play defense, and we can do a few things on the base paths and a few things offensively, if we get guys to be more efficient, we’re going to be fine.”

In his first start of the season, Tantleff dazzled. The right-hander breezed through the first six batters and kept the Bound Brook hitters completely off balanced and neutralized.

With key starting pitcher Holmes yet to start a game due to tendinitis and a backend of the rotation inexperienced, Tantleff came up in a big spot for the Mountaineers.

“It feels pretty good, the goal was throw strikes, let them hit the ball and let my fielders make the plays, so credit to them,” Tantleff said. “I hope I can help my team whatever it is. I want to do what’s best for them and get some wins.”

According to Falzarano, throwing strikes has been the Achilles heel of the pitching rotation thus far. While the relief pitchers pitched well, they surrendered three solo home runs, two to senior Vinnie Capalbo and one to junior Jason Cuba.

“It’s really important in high school baseball to throw strikes, if you don’t throw strikes, you’re going to get hit,” Falzarano said. “The best are going to get 3 out of 10, so 7 our of 10 times you’re going to get an out, so just throw strikes.”

While the pitching is still coming along, the bats were as good as expected. Holmes, who hit .476 and drove in 30 runs a season ago, keeps swinging a hot bat, driving in two runs on Saturday to increase his season total to 14. Senior Matt Oliver went 3-for-4 with two RBI.

The Mountaineers were also off and running on the base paths, stealing six bases on the day.

Staff Writer Daniel LoGiudice can be reached at dlogiudice@gannettnj.com. Follow him on Twitter @danny_logiudice.