Cheverus and Waynflete’s baseball teams both produced winning seasons and entered the playoffs with high hopes.
The Stags, the defending Class A champions, closed the regular year on a seven-game win streak, capped by a 1-0 home victory over Windham last Wednesday. Louie DiStasio threw a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. Harry Ridge had two hits and scored Cheverus’ lone run, which was driven in by Mitchell Powers.
Cheverus finished 12-4 and fourth in the region.
“We knew we’d have the proverbial target on our backs,” said Stags coach Mac McKew. “We faced all the top pitchers. We’ve been battle-tested. We’ve righted the ship. We inserted Powers into the lineup and that injected some energy. Our team average is .265, but since Mitchell joined the lineup, we’re hitting .306. Hitting’s contagious. I give him credit for helping us get going. We have the top team ERA. Louie (DiStasio), (Harry) Ridge and (Ryan) Casale have done a great job pitching. We feel good about ourselves.”
The Stags earned a Thursday quarterfinal round date against No. 5 Westbrook (11-5), a rematch of last year’s Western A Final. On May 19, Cheverus beat the host Blue Blazes, 4-3, in eight innings.
“I expect more of the same,” said McKew. “It was back-and-forth the first time. I expect another close battle. We won’t look past that game.”
If the Stags advance, they’ll likely go to top-ranked Marshwood (14-2) in Saturday’s semifinals. Cheverus lost 6-3 at the Hawks back on April 26. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2009 quarterfinals (which the Stags won, 5-0).
For the first time since 1974, both Deering and Portland fell short of the playoffs in the same season.
The Rams’ streak of 14 straight playoff appearances ended after a 4-12 season, which ended with a 3-2 eight-inning setback at Portland and a 4-1 home loss to Gorham. Kenny Sweet scored twice and Luke Boyle had both RBI against the Bulldogs. Sweet had a pair of hits and scored Deering’s lone run versus Gorham. The Rams wound up 12th in the Western Class A Heal Points standings, but only 11 teams qualified for the postseason.
The Bulldogs finished 5-11 and 13th. In the win over Deering, Nate Smart went the distance to earn the run and tripled in a run. Travis Godbout drove in the winner. Portland closed with a 5-1 setback at Scarborough.
In Western C, Waynflete qualified for the playoffs for the third in year in a row. The Flyers finished 10-5 and eighth after a 16-1 six-inning triumph at Traip last Wednesday. Joey Schnier threw a three-hitter, Andrew Butler had three hits and two RBI and Mitch Newlin had four hits and drove in a pair of runs.
“It has been quite a ride,” said Waynflete coach Steve Kautz. “To finish the season 8-1 in the conference and 10-5 overall would be a great achievement for our program any year, but it was especially remarkable to do it this year. We came into the season having graduated four starters and we lost another starter who did not return. We knew we had young talent, but the team had very little experience. We also dealt with a very small roster this year. By halfway through the season we were down to 14. These 14 committed to each other and to becoming better players and they decided to show everyone that they were ready to compete. Another twist this year was playing five games against Class B teams. We held our own against Gray and beat Lake Region. We struggled against Greely, Cape and Fryeburg. In the end, the kids learned a lot from those games and they learned what they need to do to get better.
“Everyone involved is proud of our accomplishment in Class C and proud of our overall improvement. This young team has been lead by sophomores Joey Schnier, Nik Morrill, Isaac Scher and Matt Jarrell. I suspected they would be starting several games this year. I was wrong, they have started every game. Juniors Ryan Carr, Luke Jeton and Andrew Butler have helped anchor the offense and seniors Pete Stein and Mitch Newlin have provided big hits, defense and much needed leadership for a young team.”
Waynflete hosted No. 9 Old Orchard Beach (6-10) in a preliminary round game Tuesday. In the regular season, the Flyers beat the Seagulls, 5-4 and 9-4 and lost a third meeting, 9-3. Two years ago in a prelim, Waynflete lost at Old Orchard Beach, 5-2.
“While they have enjoyed the success, these kids are focused on the next step,” Kautz said. “Earning a home playoff game, another program first, was in our sights and we played one of our best games ever against Traip to close out the season and clinch that playoff game. We had three good games with OOB this year and their coaching staff has done excellent work with their team. Our goals were to win the conference, get a home playoff game and see what we damage we can do from there. We are ready to go.”
If the Flyers were able to advance, they would go to No. 1 Dirigo (15-1) for a quarterfinal Thursday. The teams don’t meet in the regular season. Last year, in the semis, the Cougars dominated visiting Waynflete, 15-1, in five innings.
Playoff action continues Saturday with the semifinals, on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Western A and Western C Finals are both Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College. Class C plays at 3 p.m. Class A at 7 p.m. The Class A (12 p.m.) and Class C (4 p.m.) state finals are both Saturday, June 16.
For the first time since 1981, the softball playoffs don’t include a single team from the city of the Portland.
McAuley came the closest, but the Lions’ 6-10 record left them 13th and only 11 teams qualify so McAuley’s two-year run of qualifying came to an end.
Cheverus entered last Wednesday’s finale versus visiting Noble still clinging to postseason hopes, but the Stags lost to the Knights, 9-0, and finished 5-11 and 14th in the Heals.
Portland wound up 1-15 and 16th after closing with a 19-6 (five inning) setback at Bonny Eagle.
Deering went 0-16 this spring, closing with a 34-2 (five inning) home loss to Kennebunk, and placed 17th.
Senior Harry Ridge and the Cheverus baseball team is primed to defend its Class A state title as the playoffs begin Thursday.