Cheverus holds off Windham to stay unbeaten

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Cheverus senior Jack Casale is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a third inning run during the Stags’ 5-3 home win over Windham Wednesday. Cheverus improved to 7-0 on the season.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cheverus 5 Windham 3

W- 001 002 0- 3 7 2
C- 003 011 x- 5 9 0

Top 3rd
Lauzier singled to center, Delcourt scored. 

Bottom 3rd
Brooks singled to left, Watson scored. McCarthy reached on infield single, J. Casale scored. D. Casale singled to left, Brooks scored.

Bottom 5th
D. Casale singled to left, McCarthy scored.

Top 6th
Skillings doubled to left-center, Lauzier and Cam McCarthy scored.

Bottom 6th
St. John singled, Watson scored.  

Repeat hitters:
W-Lauzier, Cam McCartney
C- D. Casale, J. Casale, Watson 

Runs:
W- Delcourt, Lauzier, Cam McCartney
C- Watson 2, Brooks, J. Casale, McCarthy 

RBI:
W- Skillings 2, Lauzier
C- D. Casale 2, Brooks, McCarthy, St. John 

Doubles:
W- Skillings
C- Watson 

Stolen bases:
C- D. Casale, McCarthy, St. John, Watson 

Left on base:
W-2
C- 9

Naylor, Peoples (6) and MacDonald; Mullen and McCarthy

W:  
Naylor (L, 0-1) 5 IP 7 H 4 R 4 ER 3 BB 5 K 1 WP
Peoples 1 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 0 K 

C:
Mullen (W, 1-0) 7 IP 7 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 5 K 

Time: 1:29

PORTLAND—The coaches and members of Cheverus’ baseball team will tell you that chemistry is the reason for the Stags’ fast start this spring, but the truth is more tangible.

Cheverus also has benefited from a deep pitching staff, strong defense and timely hitting and all of those triumphant elements were on display Wednesday when the Stags held off visiting Windham on a cloudy day at Kevin MacDonald Memorial Field.

Sophomore Jack Mullen, making just his second start, was economical throughout and even though he surrendered a run, on junior centerfielder Kobe Lauzier’s RBI single in the top of the third, Cheverus wasn’t behind for long.

In the bottom of the third, with two outs and no one on, junior shortstop Griffin Watson singled, senior rightfielder Jack Casale did the same and senior first baseman Jared Brooks followed with a base hit to tie the score. Senior catcher Logan McCarthy and senior centerfielder Dom Casale then produced RBI base hits and the Stags were on top, 3-1.

Dom Casale drove in another run, on an RBI single, in the bottom of the fifth.

Then, in the sixth, the Eagles roared back, pulling within a run on a two-run, pinch-hit double from senior Zach Skillings, but Mullen avoided further damage.

In the bottom of the inning, junior designated hitter Maxx St. John drove in an insurance run and despite taking a line drive off his foot in the top of the seventh, Mullen slammed the door and Cheverus went on to a 5-3 victory in a tidy 89 minutes.

The Stags got a complete game effort from Mullen and produced nine hits as they improved to 7-0 on the season and dropped Windham to 3-5 in the process.

“We a got the win,” said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “We take the W’s one by one. We don’t worry about the score. We’ve beaten good teams. Some days you show up sharper than others. We’re finding a way. It’s a very good team from a chemistry standpoint.”

So far, so good

Cheverus came into the season viewed as a top contender in Class A South and the Stags have more than lived up to billing.

After opening with shutout wins over visiting Noble (6-0) and host Gorham (3-0), Cheverus beat visiting Bonny Eagle (9-1), then eked out wins at Thornton Academy (3-2) and visiting Westbrook (10-9) before Tuesday’s 4-0 blanking of host Marshwood.

Windham started with losses to visiting South Portland (3-1) and at Noble (2-1) before beating visiting Marshwood (4-1) and host Biddeford (3-1). After an 8-3 loss at Westbrook and a 9-0 home blanking by Thornton Academy, the Eagles held off visiting Bonny Eagle, 2-1, Tuesday.

Cheverus and Windham were scheduled to play Friday, then again Monday, but both times, rain prevented that from happening.

Last year, Cheverus opened with a 9-1 win at Windham. Wednesday, the Stags beat the Eagles again, but it wasn’t easy.

Mullen surrendered a hit to the game’s first batter, Windham junior rightfielder Cameron McCartney, who singled to left, but Mullen immediately picked him off, throwing to Brooks at first, who applied the tag.

Mullen then got sophomore third baseman Bryce Afthim to pop out foul to first and junior designated hitter Tanner Bernier to ground back to the mound.

In the bottom half, Cheverus had a chance to break through against Eagles freshman starter Chris Naylor, as after Watson grounded out to short, Jack Casale beat out an infield single to the hole and he went to third when Windham senior catcher Ben MacDonald threw wild on a pickoff throw. Brooks then grounded to short, but Casale got a late break for home and freshman Caleb McCarthy threw him out at the plate. St. John flew out to left to end the threat.

Mullen had an easy second inning, getting senior first baseman Tim Greenlaw to chase strike three, Caleb McCartney to pop out to third and MacDonald to ground back to the mound.

The Stags went meekly in their half of the second as well, as McCarthy grounded out to short, Dom Casale popped out to second and sophomore second baseman Justin Ray went down swinging.

The visitors then broke the ice in the top of the third.

Senior second baseman Mitch Delcourt led off with a single to left and was sacrificed bunted to second by junior leftfielder Evan Millett. That brought up Lauzier, who singled sharply to center to bring home Delcourt for a 1-0 lead. Cheverus then escaped further damage when junior leftfielder Cam Dube made a sensational running catch to rob Cam McCartney of extra bases and with Afthim at the plate, McCarthy picked Lauzier off first base.

Cheverus appeared poised to go quietly in its half of the third, as Naylor fanned both senior third baseman Chandler Hartigan and Dube and got ahead of Watson 0-2 before Watson evened the count and rapped a single to center.

“Once I saw the fastball, I turned on it,” Watson said. “It felt good.”

That brought up Jack Casale, who, on the first pitch, also singled to center to put runners at first and second for the big bruiser, Brooks, who didn’t disappoint by grounding a single through the hole between short and third to score Watson to tie the game and put runners at the corners. St. John then walked to load the bases and McCarthy followed by reaching on a bloop single to score Casale. Brooks then came home when Dom Casale singled to center for a 3-1 lead.

“We did what we had to do,” McKew said. “We could have used some more intensity on offense, but (Naylor) kept us off-balance with his curveball. Sometimes after you go through the order once, good hitters make adjustments. I give the guys credit.”

The Stags then almost broke it open when Ray crushed a ball down the leftifeld line, but after making a nice run, Millett went all out and made a superb diving catch to rob Cheverus of at least three runs and end the inning.

Mullen had a 1-2-3 top of the fourth, as he got Afthim to ground back to the mound, Bernier to ground out to short and Greenlaw to chase strike three.

In the bottom half, Hartigan struck out, but Dube walked and Watson reached Afthim made an error at third. The Stags couldn’t score, however, as Jack Casale hit a little pop up that a charging Delcourt caught on his knees and Brooks lined out to left.

Mullen remained in command in the fifth, getting Caleb McCartney to line to center, MacDonald to ground out to shortstop and Delcourt to fly to right.

Cheverus added to its lead in the bottom half, as after St. John grounded back to the mound, McCarthy walked on a full count pitch, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Dom Casale singled to left to make it 4-1. Casale then stole second base, but Ray flew out to center and Hartigan fanned to end Naylor’s day.

Windham refused to go quietly in the sixth and almost erased its deficit.

After Mullen struck out Millett to start the inning, Lauzier beat out a bunt down the first base line and Cam McCartney singled sharply to left. That brought up Skillings, who hit the ball hard to the gap in left-center for a double and Lauzier and McCartney both came around to score to cut the deficit to 4-3. Bernier grounded to third with Skillings taking third, but Mullen left him there by getting Greenlaw to fly out deep to left to Dube, keeping the Stags in front by a run.

Cheverus bounced back and got an insurance run in the bottom of the frame against Eagles reliever Garrett Peoples.

After Dube flew out to center, Watson grounded the ball just fair down the third base line and he raced into second with a double. Jack Casale walked and after Brooks flew out deep to left, St. John came up big with an RBI single to bring home Watson for a 5-3 advantage. McCarthy flew out to end the inning.

Mullen was able to close it out in the top of the seventh, but it came at a bit of a physical cost.

After Mullen got Caleb McCartney to ground out to short, MacDonald lined a shot back up the middle which drilled Mullen in the foot. MacDonald reached on the infield single and McKew came out to check on his pitcher, who took a few warmup throws before determining he could stay in the game.

“I tried to get out of the way,” Mullen said. “Luckily, it didn’t hit me anywhere else. It hurt, but I threw a couple pitches and I was good.”

Mullen then closed it out with a flourish.

Delcourt, representing the tying run, chased strike three and that left the game up to Millett, who watched strike three and Cheverus was able to celebrate a 5-3 victory.

“We just do our job and get outs,” Watson said. “We have a lot of chemistry. We really jell together. The bench guys keep the energy up. I love this team. Those early wins boosted our confidence. It tested our mental toughness, but we kept our heads up.”

Mullen was masterful, needing a mere 62 pitches to earn the complete game victory, his first decision of the season. Mullen gave up three runs, all earned, on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.

“I went out there and just tried to do my best,” said Mullen. “My teammates helped me out and got a lot of outs. I tried to keep the ball down and tried to mix up my pitches and throw as many strikes as I could. My change-up worked really well. I got a couple strikeouts with that. I just tried to bear down and keep the ball low.” 

“(Jack’s) a great pitcher,” Watson said. “He’s only a sophomore. I’m excited to see what he brings to us in future years. He throws a lot of strikes.”

“Our pitching depth has been coming through like we thought it would at the start of the season,” added McKew. “Jack was Mr. Efficient with 62 pitches in a seven inning game. We had (Justin) Ray warming up, but we felt comfortable with Jack. When he got hit in the foot, I was going to give him one more hitter, but he showed good emotion when got the strikeout. When he pumped his fist, I knew he had it.”

Offensively, the Stags got two hits apiece from Dom Casale, Jack Casale and Watson.

Watson scored two runs, while Brooks, Jack Casale and McCarthy also touched home plate.

Dom Casale had two RBI, while Brooks, McCarthy and St. John also drove in a run.

Dom Casale, McCarthy, St. John and Watson all stole bases for Cheverus, which stranded nine runners.

Windham got multiple hits from Lauzier and Cam McCartney. Delcourt, Lauzier and Cam McCartney scored runs and Skillings drove in two runs with Lauzier producing the other RBI.

The Eagles only left two runners on base.

Naylor fell to 0-1 after allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. He walked three, threw a wild pitch and fanned five. Peoples gave up an earned run on two hits in an inning of relief. He walked one and didn’t strike out a batter. 

No days off

While Windham returns to action Thursday at Hadlock Field to face Portland, Cheverus will go to South Portland for a pivotal contest (see theforecaster.net for game story).

Brooks will get the start.

Saturday, the Stags host Deering. Next week brings trips to Noble and Portland sandwiched around a home tilt versus Sanford.

“I’m excited to play South Portland and Deering,” Watson said. “There’s nothing like a good test. I feel like we have a chance. We have to stay with it. We have to play up to our level and continue growing.” 

“I think we’re doing great,” Mullen said. “We have great chemistry and we want to continue winning. We want to play the best teams.”

“I’d rather be 7-0 facing South Portland than 5-2,” McKew added. “We have Jared going and it should be a great game.”

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

Cheverus sophomore starter Jack Mullen delivers a strike. Mullen went the distance on just 62 pitches to earn the victory.

Cheverus junior leftfielder Cam Dube goes all out to make a tremendous catch in the third inning.

Cheverus sophomore shortstop Griffin Watson slides in safely with the Stags’ first run.

Cheverus junior designated hitter Maxx St. John takes a swing. St. John drove in an insurance run in the sixth inning.

Cheverus senior first baseman Jared Brooks applies the tag on Windham’s Kobe Lauzier for an out on a pickoff play.

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