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Cheverus senior Jared Brooks delivers a strike during the Stags’ 8-1 win at Biddeford Saturday. Brooks allowed just one hit and two walks and struck out 14 batters.
C- 104 011 1- 8 12 1
B- 001 000 0- 1 1 4
Brooks singled to left, Watson scored.
St. John lined out to left, J. Casale scored. D. Casale singled to center, Brooks scored. Benedict reached on infield single, D. Casale scored. Ray scored on error.
Edgerton doubled to right, Petit scored.
McCarthy scored on Dube’s squeeze bunt.
Brooks homered to left, Brooks scored.
Dube singled to left, MacDonald scored.
C- Benedict, Brooks
C- Brooks 2, D. Casale, J. Casale, MacDonald, McCarty, Ray, Watson
C- Brooks, Dube 2, Benedict, D. Casale, St. John
C- D. Casale, Ray, Watson
Left on base:
Brooks and McCarthy; Crepeau, Terrien (6) and Curit
Brooks (W, 4-1) 7 IP 1 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 14 K 1 WP
Crepeau (L, 3-3) 5 IP 9 H 6 R 3 ER 2 BB 3 K 2 WP 1 HBP
Therrien 2 IP 3 H 2 R 1 ER 0 BB 0 K 1 WP
BIDDEFORD—Last Saturday, Cheverus’ baseball team suffered its first (and to date, only) loss of the 2017 season, at rival Portland.
This Saturday, the Stags had an early wakeup call to travel to St. Louis Field to meet Biddeford in the penultimate game of the regular season and several players got a jump on the day, arriving at school early to take extra batting practice.
It certainly paid off, as Cheverus produced a dozen hits off two Tigers’ pitchers and that offense proved more than enough for senior ace Jared Brooks, who came within one wind-blown double of throwing a no-hitter as the Stags enjoyed an easy victory.
On a 48-degree morning, with the wind blowing and drizzle falling, Cheverus took a quick 1-0 lead against Biddeford senior left-handed starting pitcher Brady Crepeau, as junior shortstop Griffin Watson led off with a single, was bunted to second, stole third and scored on a Brooks single.
Brooks struck out five of the first seven batters he faced to set the tone and in the third, the Stags gave him a nice cushion.
A sacrifice fly from junior designated hitter Maxx St. John, an RBI single from senior centerfielder Dominic Casale and a slow roller off the bat of senior rightfielder Rylan Benedict which resulted in an error and two more runs gave Cheverus a 5-0 advantage.
Biddeford got one run back in the bottom half, as Brooks walked junior centerfielder Curtis Petit and threw a pair of wild pitches before sophomore shortstop Carter Edgerton’s fly ball to right got caught up in the wind and eluded Benedict for an RBI double.
Brooks didn’t surrender another hit or walk the rest of the way and after junior leftfielder Cam Dube executed a perfectly placed bases loaded squeeze bunt in the fifth, Brooks crushed a home run in the sixth and in the seventh, Dube had an RBI single to make it 8-1.
Brooks then slammed the door in style, striking out the side in the bottom of the inning, his 12th, 13th and 14th Ks of the day, to slam the door on yet another victory.
The Stags improved to 14-1, ensured a top four finish and the preliminary round bye that comes with it, and dropped the Tigers to 7-8 in the process.
“Coach (Mac) McKew told us the name of the game today was mental toughness,” Brooks said. “I went out there on a mission. We wanted this game. My team was behind me. I didn’t have my stuff last Saturday. It’s unfortunate that it was against Portland. I tried to come back today and throw strikes.”
As has so often been the case this spring, Mother Nature wasn’t much of a baseball fan Saturday, but the teams took the field regardless.
Much was at stake as Cheverus hoped to remain hot and Biddeford looked to remain competitive.
The Stags started this season with shutout wins over visiting Noble (6-0) and host Gorham (3-0), Cheverus then beat visiting Bonny Eagle (9-1) and eked out wins at Thornton Academy (3-2) and visiting Westbrook (10-9). After a 4-0 blanking of host Marshwood and a a 5-3 home victory over Windham, the Stags enjoyed a 4-0 shutout win at South Portland, in another game which saw Brooks toss a one-hitter. After blanking visiting Deering, 7-0, Cheverus then surrendered a couple runs, but beat host Noble, 6-2, giving McKew his 100th victory with the program, then mercy-ruled host Sanford (11-1, in five-innings). After falling, 4-0, at Portland, the Stags bounced back and blanked host Westbrook (7-0) and downed visiting Massabesic (6-1).
“The guys were fine after the loss,” McKew said. “We knew it was difficult to go undefeated. We thought about it for 20 minutes after the game, then we moved on.”
Biddeford started with a 5-3 home win over Portland, then lost at Bonny Eagle (4-1), at home to Windham (3-1) and at Marshwood (11-3). The Tigers blanked visiting Gorham (5-0) and downed visiting Deering (3-1) before losing, 3-0, at Westbrook. After edging rival Thornton Academy, 5-4, on the road, Biddeford lost by the same score at Sanford. After downing visiting Massabesic (4-1), host Windham (6-4) and visiting Noble (8-1), the Tigers fell at Portland (3-1) and at Scarborough (7-5).
Last year, Cheverus beat visiting Biddeford, 12-5.
Saturday, the Stags earned their first win at the Tigers since 2013 and they made sure to start quickly.
Watson got the fun started with a base hit and after senior first baseman Jack Casale sacrificed him to second, Watson stole third. That set the stage for Brooks to line a single to left for the game’s first run and Cheverus wouldn’t look back.
“Crepeau is a great pitcher,” said Brooks. “Some of us were at school at 7:45 this morning hitting off the curveball machine because we knew we’d see a heavy dose of them. That hit I got was off a curve ball.”
“We got some key hits today,” McKew said. “The ones who hit the ball today were the ones to did the optional get-there-early hitting. We set up the pitching machine to throw left-handed curveballs and I think it definitely helped.”
St. John followed by beating out an infield hit, but Crepeau struck out senior catcher Logan McCarthy swinging and got Dominic Casale to pop out to short to keep it 1-0.
Casale made quick work of the Tigers in the bottom half, getting Crepeau to line softly to Watson at short before striking out Edgerton swinging and senior catcher Joey Curit looking.
The Stags put a runner in scoring position in the top of the second, but couldn’t bring him home.
After Crepeau struck out sophomore second baseman Justin Ray swinging, Benedict singled up the middle and was wild pitched to second. Dube grounded back to the mound with Benedict taking third on the throw, but Watson ended the threat with a ground ball back to Crepeau.
Brooks started the bottom half of the inning by walking junior second baseman Logan Magnant on a full count pitch, but he bounced back to strike out sophomore designated hitter Hunter Demeule, junior leftfielder Colin Lavigne and junior rightfielder Evan Paquette.
Cheverus then put up a four-spot in the third.
Jack Casale got hit on the hand by a pitch leading off and Brooks walked on a full count pitch. After Crepeau threw a wild pitch to move the runners up, St. John lined out to Lavigne in left, but Casale came home with the run. McCarthy then reached on an error by junior third baseman Brice Springer. Dominic Casale followed with a single to center, chasing home Brooks for a 3-0 lead. Ray hit a grounder to third and Springer stepped on the base for a force out, but Benedict grounded the ball to the left of Crepeau and while the pitcher got to it, Casale came home and even though he wasn’t going to throw out Benedict at first, Crepeau flung the ball in that direction anyway and when it got past junior first baseman Owen Sullivan for an error, Ray came home as well. Benedict was thrown out stealing for the final out of the frame, but the Stags had a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Brooks did run into some trouble in the bottom half, however.
After he struck out Sullivan swinging, Brooks walked Petit, the No. 9 hitter, on four straight pitches. Brooks fanned Crepeau swinging, but strike three got away, allowing Petit to take second. Then, with Edgerton at the plate, Brooks threw another wild pitch. He appeared primed to escape the jam, however, when he induced a little pop fly to right off the bat of Edgerton, but Benedict couldn’t come up with the ball, which appeared to move a great deal in the wind, and it dropped in for a clean, RBI double. Curit popped out to short to end it, but Biddeford had cut the deficit to 5-1.
Cheverus got another gift to start the fourth, as Dube reached on an error by Edgerton at short. After Watson flew out to left, Jack Casale reached on an infield single to the right side, but Brooks popped out to short and St. John grounded into a force out to end it.
Brooks quickly set the Tigers down in the bottom half, getting Curit to ground back to the mound, Magnant to pop out to the mound and Demeuele to pop out to short.
In the fifth, McCarthy led off with a single through the hole on the left side and Dominic Casale walked. After Ray beat out an infield hit, the bases were loaded. After Benedict struck out swinging, Dube came up and on the second pitch, McKew sent McCarthy breaking for the plate and Dube laid down a perfect squeeze bunt. Dube was thrown out at first, but the run scored. Watson grounded out, but the Stags had a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom half, Brooks struck out Paquette, but strike three got away and Paquette reached first base safely. After Sullivan grounded into a second-to-shortstop force out, Petit struck out swinging and Crepeau looked at strike three.
Brooks then provided the game’s loudest hit in the top of the sixth against new pitcher, senior Trevor Therrien.
After Jack Casale lined hard to first, Brooks got a fat offering and crushed it over the fence in left-center to extend the lead to 7-1.
“I was looking for a high fastball,” Brooks said. “It felt good, so I just started my trot.”
“That was a rocket,” McKew said. “(Jared’s) been an exceptional player for us for four years.”
St. John grounded out to second and McCarthy followed with a fly ball to right for the third out.
In the bottom half, Brooks got Edgerton to fly to right (this time, Benedict managed to barely hold on to the wind-blown ball) and struck out Curit. After Magnant reached on an error by senior third baseman Chandler Hartigan, Brooks got senior pinch-hitter Dylan Lamarre to ground into an inning-ending force out.
Cheverus appeared to be going quietly in the top of the seventh before adding another unearned run.
After junior pinch-hitter Tyler Turner bounced back to the pitcher and senior pinch-hitter Anthony Pirone popped out to first, junior pinch-hitter Connor MacDonald beat out an infield single and took second when Springer threw the ball wildly to first. Dube then singled to left on a 3-2 pitch and MacDonald came home to make it 8-1. Watson grounded out to short to end the frame.
In the bottom half, Brooks knew he was 15 pitches shy of having to come out of the contest due to the new pitch count rules, but he would only need 13 to slam the door.
After blowing three straight strikes past Therrien, Brooks caught senior pinch-hitter Nick Gallant looking at strike. Then, at 12:43 p.m., Brooks fired strike three past Sullivan to end it, giving the Stags an 8-1 triumph.
“We knew we needed a win in this game or Wednesday to secure a top four spot,” McKew said. “We knew we’d get their ace. We came down here in crummy conditions and got the job done.”
Brooks was the story, improving to 4-1 with a dazzling one-hit, two-walk performance over seven innings. He struck out 14, threw one wild pitch and wound up throwing 108 pitches.
Brooks also singled, hit a mammoth home run, scored twice and drove in two runs.
“(Jared) was overpowering,” said McKew. “He did what he had to do. He overpowered them as he’s overpowered most teams he’s faced this year. He’s been very steady all year. He’s in that 65 to 70 percent strikes range. He leads the league in strikeouts. He’s over 50 strikeouts in about 30 innings. He gets a lot of swings and misses.”
Benedict also had multiple hits for the Stags. Dominic Casale, Jack Casale, MacDonald, McCarty, Ray and Watson all scored one run. Dube also had two RBI, while Benedict, Dominic Casale and St. John finished with one apiece. Dominic Casale, Ray and Watson stole bases.
Cheverus stranded nine base runners.
Biddeford’s run was scored by Petit. Edgerton had the RBI and his team’s lone hit.
The Tigers left four runners on.
Crepeau fell to 3-3 after giving up six runs (three earned) on nine hits in five innings. He walked two, struck out three, threw two wild pitches and hit one batter. Therrien allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in two innings. He didn’t walk or strike out a batter. He did throw one wild pitch.
Biddeford (fifth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) closes at home versus South Portland Wednesday.
Cheverus is second to Falmouth in the Heals and closes Wednesday at home against Scarborough in a makeup game. The Stags have high hopes for upcoming postseason.
“Scarborough is another good team,” Brooks said. “They’ll create chaos. They have a great coach. I’m a Scarborough native, so I’d love to pummel them.
“We want to be the best team. We’ll go out to get the ‘W.’ We resemble the 2011 (Class A state championship) Cheverus team. We’re ready.”
“We’ll have (Jack) Casale going Wednesday,” McKew said. “We’ll hopefully finish strong and see where we land. It’s baseball and one pitcher can shut you down and end your season quickly, but these guys know that. I like our personality. We’re hoping for a good run.”