Cheverus baseball reaches regional final; Waynflete out in quarters

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Westbrook game story, with photos and a box score, please visit theforecaster.net)

Despite Mother Nature’s  best effort, the baseball playoffs took off last week and a familiar name found itself still standing at press time.

Defending Class A state champion Cheverus continued its late-season surge with a pair of playoff victories to get within a win of another state final.

The Stags, seeded fourth in Western A after a 12-4 regular season, battled No. 5 Westbrook in a quarterfinal Thursday. Cheverus had beaten the host Blue Blazes, 4-3, in eight innings during the regular season and also blanked them, 2-0, in the 2011 regional final.

The game turned into the Louie DiStasio Show.

DiStasio worked out of a second-and-third, one out jam in the first and went on to throw a two-hit shutout, striking out 10 hitters. In the bottom of the first, DiStasio singled and scored on a double by Harry Ridge and in the second, DiStasio beat out an infield single scoring Chris Tinsman. That was it for offense, but Cheverus prevailed, 2-0.

“I wanted to throw strikes and mix up my pitches a little bit better,” DiStasio said. “It’s the playoffs. I was a little jittery to start the game. Once I settled in, I seemed fine. My defense played great today. Everything seemed to work today. It was a good day. My arm didn’t open up as much as it does when it’s warm out, but my velocity was high. I felt good.”

“We got the lead and Louie turned into Louie,” said Stags coach Mac McKew. “A couple mild threats, but nothing major. He gets the ball and throws the ball. He knows that keeps the defense on their toes. He had good velocity. He was in the 86-miles-per-hour range.”

Cheverus then got a gift as No. 9 Bonny Eagle upset top-ranked Marshwood, allowing the Stags to be home for the semifinals Saturday against a team they beat, 11-3, back in April. Cheverus had beaten Bonny Eagle in both prior playoff meetings, 9-1 in the 1987 preliminary round and 10-9 in the 1993 quarterfinals.

Saturday, the Stags wasted little time in putting another win in the books.

DiStasio singled to start a first inning rally and Tinsman ripped a two-run single to put Cheverus on top to stay. The Stags took advantage of some shaky Scots’ fielding in the fourth to score five runs to break it open. Two more runs in the fifth and another in the sixth ended the game 10-0 in Cheverus’ favor.

Ridge took a no-hitter in the sixth and settled for a one-hitter with five strikeouts. Drew Ferrick ended the game with a walkoff double. DiStasio tripled, scored three times and had an RBI. Tinsman had three hits and drove in a pair. Tyler Flaherty and Mitchell Powers each drove in two runs and Ryan Casale had two hits.

“They made an error that opened up the floodgates,” said McKew. “I give Bonny Eagle all the credit just to get here. We had to go out and beat them. They battled. Today, we just overwhelmed them. Ridge came back and his arm was strong.”

The 14-4 Stags met the 16-2 Red Storm of Scarborough, the No. 2 seed, in Tuesday’s Western A Final (please see theforecaster.net for the game story, with photos and a box score). On May 12, Cheverus dropped a tough 2-0 decision at Scarborough. The teams’ lone prior playoff game came in the 2003 preliminary round (a 6-2 Stags’ triumph).

“Louie will come back on four days rest,” said McKew. “He looks strong. I imagine we’ll get (Scarborough senior Joe) Cronin (who no-hit Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals). We had a 2-0 game in the regular season. A marathon 14-inning game at the end of last season. We beat them at the beginning of last season. There’s some history and competitiveness. St. Joe’s is always a nice environment. If you can’t get excited about a Western Maine Final, you don’t have a pulse.”

The Western A champion will face either Lewiston (15-3) or Messalonskee (13-5) in the state championship game Saturday at high noon at St. Joe’s.

The Stags beat Lewiston, 9-1, to win the 2011 championship.

The other city team to qualify for the playoffs this season, Waynflete, took a 10-5 record into the postseason. The Flyers earned the No. 8 seed and hosted ninth-ranked Old Orchard Beach in last Wednesday’s preliminary round. Waynflete had beaten the Seagulls two of three regular season meetings, but as was the case two years ago, the Flyers lost to Old Orchard Beach in that round, falling, 10-3. Joey Schnier had a couple hits.

“We had strong practices coming into the game,” said Waynflete coach. “The kids were showing up early and leaving late, a coach’s dream, and they were excited and focused. After an inning-and-a-half, I thought we were into our game. Joey got into a little two-out trouble in the first inning, but our defense made the plays to end the inning. Then we had some two-out magic thanks to Luke Jeton’s typical, clutch hitting and we had a 2-0 lead. The turning point for me was in the top of the second. We had that lead with two outs and nobody on, but we walked the No. 8 hitter, then a bloop hit over first, then an error. Next thing you know it was 2-2 and doubt starting getting into our heads. Trailing 5-2 we had a little spark and made it 5-3, but we couldn’t get the edge back. We made a few errors and had control problems on the mound. The control issue wasn’t only about walks, but also we gave up five or six hits on 0-2 and 1-2 counts. That is just inexperience and we will be better for it next year. OOB played great. They took advantage of mistakes, they had excellent two-strike swings, two or three diving catches and their pitcher was unflappable.”

Waynflete finished its best season since 1993 at 10-6.

“That was a tough loss for us, but it will help us next year to be more prepared for big games,” said Kautz. “This was a great season. The kids are excited about their accomplishments and they should be. Few if anyone expected this team to be a .500 team, so 8-1 in the conference and 10-6 overall was a excellent regular season achievement. I give all credit to these young players for taking practice seriously and for being so coachable. My assistants, Paul Grazia and Zak Starr, did wonders to get these young pitchers and position players ready for the varsity level.”

The Flyers will be right back in the hunt in 2013.

“We only graduate three this year, so we will have seven starters returning,” Kautz said. “And, we are not losing any pitching. We have much work to do on defense and situational hitting, but we will also have a much more experienced squad take the field next year. We can’t wait.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Cheverus senior ace Louie DiStasio delivers a strike during Thursday’s 2-0 Western A quarterfinal round win over Westbrook. The Stags went on to down Bonny Eagle in the semis and battled Scarborough in Tuesday’s Western A Final.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.