City baseball teams scramble for playoff spots
With the 2010 high school baseball team nearing its end, all four city teams are doing their best to ensure a strong finish and a trip to the playoffs.
Most years, the Deering Rams are boasting a perfect record and are closing on the top seed. But this spring, the Rams (as expected) have proven mortal, although they have shown glimpses of championship-caliber play.
Deering enters the week with a 9-3 mark after some big games last week. After eking out a 2-1 victory at Windham last Tuesday (senior Travis Wade was dominating on the hill and had the go-ahead RBI), the Rams dropped a highly-anticipated 9-6 showdown at Westbrook (despite a pair of hits from junior catcher John Miranda).
“We didn’t expect there would be this many runs but it was pretty ugly out for both sides,” said Deering coach Mike Coutts. “How we bounce back from this is more important to me. It was a big game for us, but we still have some big games left.”
Saturday night, Deering rallied for a stirring 4-3 home win over South Portland, scoring twice in the seventh to win and move into the third spot in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings. The Rams were at Gorham Tuesday, host Scarborough Thursday and go to Bonny Eagle Saturday. They close the regular season at home versus Cheverus June 1.
Speaking of the Stags, they've been as streaky as anyone this spring, but are right in the thick of things. Cheverus won its first six games, dropped four in a row, including a 4-2 home setback to Scarborough last Tuesday, but bounced back with wins at Portland (12-0) and Gorham (9-6, in eight innings) to improve to 8-4 (good for fifth in the Western A Heals as of Monday).
Against the Bulldogs, sophomore Louie DiStasio was dominant, striking out 10 on the mound and ripping a two-run triple. In the victory over the Rams, senior Joe Falconieri drove in three runs.
"We got the monkey off our back and feel better about ourselves," said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. "Louie dominated Portland. We're hitting the ball.
"Everyone's bunched together. We're on the bubble and we know it. We have to play every game like it's our last."
The road ahead gets no easier for the Stags, who hosted Westbrook Tuesday, go to Windham Thursday, welcome Biddeford Saturday and finish at Deering next Tuesday.
Portland has work to do to qualify. The Bulldogs were ninth in the Heals as of Monday and only eight teams make the cut. Portland lost all three games last week to fall to 6-6. The Bulldogs scored one total run in setbacks against South Portland (2-0), Cheverus (12-0) and Scarborough (8-1).
"We haven't been swinging the bats well and have to get back to the drawing board," said Portland coach Mike McCullum. "Seasons go in waves and we're in a down wave. We rode the early confidence for awhile, but we hit a rut. We're still getting pitching, we're just not doing what we should do on the offensive side. We still haven't played well on defense."
"Fortunately we have three good wins, but we can't bank on that," he added. "We have to find a way to win some games. We can't take anyone lightly."
The Bulldogs were home with Windham Tuesday, welcome Gorham Thursday and Sanford Monday, then close the regular year at Westbrook next Tuesday.
In Western C, Waynflete has posted its highest win total since 2003.
Last Monday, the Flyers edged visiting Old Orchard Beach, 3-2, thanks to a late squeeze bunt RBI by freshman Andrew Butler. Senior David Gorsky had two doubles (his fifth and sixth of the year) and drove in a pair of runs. Freshman Charlie Laprade earned the victory.
After falling, 11-2, at Traip Friday, Waynflete split a doubleheader with talented North Yarmouth Academy. In the opener, senior Sam Fillinger had three hits in a 6-3 victory. The Panthers won the second game, 7-0, dropping the Flyers to 4-5 on the year.
"There are many ingredients that have contributed to the improvement we've shown this year," said Waynflete coach Steve Kautz. "Our numbers have stabilized and that has allowed us to play more games, which has given our players more game experience. On the field, the keys have been pitching and defense. We're not going to blow anyone away with our offense, so we need to focus on throwing strikes and making plays we should make in the field. The kids have really stepped up and played well."
Waynflete was 14th in the latest Western C Heals. The top 10 teams qualify. The Flyers were at Sacopee Tuesday, host Richmond Wednesday and Traip for a doubleheader Saturday.
"I do know we're in the running," Kautz said. "We know we can control our own destiny by going out and playing the kind of baseball of which we're capable. It should be a fun final week."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org