Deering shows Portland no mercy

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PORTLAND—The scoring barrage continues for the Deering baseball team.

Coming off a two-game stretch in which they tallied 40 runs, the Rams hung nine first inning runs on Portland, added the mercy rule-inducing 10th in the second inning and pushed across one more for good measure in the third on their way to an 11-0 five-inning win Thursday afternoon while playing as the home team at Hadlock Field.

Deering improved to 7-1 with its sixth straight win. The youthful Bulldogs fell to 4-4 after the dinging by their crosstown rivals.

The Rams paraded 14 batters to the plate in their half of the first inning as everyone in the order either scored or knocked in a run. Senior Sam Balzano led off with a double to rightfield. Senior Matt Bevilaqua reached on an error. Senior Nick Colucci’s groundout plated Balzano. Walks to senior Jamie Ross and junior Nick DiBiase loaded the bases for senior John Miranda, who took advantage by knocking a two-run single to center.

Junior Jamie Gullbrand followed with a walk. Senior John Hannigan singled to right on a two-strike pitch, scoring two more runs. No. 9 hitter John Hardy added a two-run double to left. Balzano walked during his second at-bat of the inning, chasing the Portland starting pitcher, sophomore Caleb Fraser, after just a third of an inning.

Senior Rudy DiMillo moved from second base to the mound for the Bulldogs. Bevilaqua greeted him with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Hardy. Colucci was hit by a pitch, then Ross’ double knocked in Balzano. DiBiase’s flyout to left finally retired the Rams, who defeated Noble 22-5 their last time out and trounced Sanford 18-0 the game before that.

“That No. 9 looks so good up there,” said Deering coach Mark Sutton, nodding toward the scoreboard. “We kept the momentum going from the Noble game. Portland is always a very competitive team to play against. The fact that we got nine runs in the first inning is a great statement. I know the kids feel good about it. I feel good about it. The other thing is we have no errors up there. That’s always the most important thing for me.”

Asked about the cause of the increased run production, Sutton could only smile.

“I’d like to say it’s me, but I don’t think that’s what it is,” he said. “I think a lot of it is we’ve taken a little bit more batting practice. We’ve seen more live pitching now that we’re a third of the way through the season. And we’re starting to be more patient. We’re starting to swing at pitches we can hit, as opposed to the beginning of the year when sometimes you swing at pitches because you’re over-anxious.”

Parlay the offensive fireworks and the flawless defensive performance with a three-hit, complete-game effort from DiBiase and you’ve got a pretty happy coach. DiBiase struck out nine and only walked one.

“He’s always so efficient,” Sutton said. “He throws strikes. He’s always around the plate. If he walks somebody, it’s a surprise. It’s great to have him out there. He’s one of those lefties that puts the ball in play so that we can play behind him.”

Deering went up 10-0 in the second after Gullbrand doubled and scored when Hardy golfed a singled to left. Out of the No. 9 spot, Hardy went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two stolen bases. He was also hit by a pitch.

“We just have a bunch of athletes who are great baseball players,” Hardy said. “For me, batting in the nine spot, I don’t mind at all. I started the season really slow, but I’m starting to come through now. The whole team is just hitting the heck out of the ball.”

The Rams, who had nine hits in the game, added their final run in the third as Bevilaqua led off with a double and later scored on Miranda’s single.

Portland, which defeated defending Western Class A champion Biddeford in its previous outing, found the early hole just too much to dig out of against a strong, senior-laden opponent.

“We’re inconsistent,” said Portland coach Tony DiBiase. “Some games are good, some games you don’t know what is going to happen. They’re one of the best teams in the state and we got off to such a bad start. Give credit to them. They hit the ball hard. They just jumped all over us. We beat Biddeford, who was ranked No. 1, on Saturday. Then today we got beat 11-0. It’s been like that all year long, but that’s kind of expected when you have six sophomores out there.”

Portland got a single in the first from sophomore Tim Rovnak, an infield single in the third from senior Paul Tukey, and a single in the fourth from Fraser. Senior Matt McIinnis relieved DiMillo and worked a scoreless bottom of the fourth. The Bulldogs committed two errors in the game.

Portland will look to bounce back in its next contest when it hosts Thornton Academy at 10 a.m. Saturday. Deering is slated to host Windham at noon at Hadlock.

While the Rams hope to continue their scoring tear, Sutton sees a league that is wide open.

“It’s going to be the same old suspects,” Sutton said. “Cheverus, Biddeford, South Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, us, Portland — don’t count those guys out, Portland can beat anybody on any day, Marshwood, Thornton. Those nine teams are going to be there until the end. You can’t take any game for granted.”

Deering junior Nick DiBiase pitched a three-hit shutout.

Deering senior Sam Balzano holds up at third base after getting the stop signal from coach Mark Sutton.

Deering senior John Hardy slides safely into third with a stolen base as the ball squirts past Portland sophomore Michael Scala.

Portland senior Matt McInnis delivers a pitch. He worked a scoreless inning of relief for the Bulldogs.

Sidebar Elements

Deering senior Nick Colucci gets the tag down in time to throw out Portland sophomore Tim Rovnak as he attempts to steal second base during Thursday’s game at Hadlock Field. The Rams rolled to an 11-0 five inning win.

More photos below.