Deering senior Dom Bernard is congratulated by senior Pat Viola, left, and junior James Sinclair after scoring a sixth inning run to give the Rams a 4-2 lead over rival Portland Monday night. Deering tacked on three more runs and beat the Bulldogs for the first time in five years, 7-2.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
D- 200 014 0- 7 9 1
P- 200 000 0- 2 8 4
Dutton scored on wild pitch. Bernard flew to right, Viola scored.
Williams scored on error. Fusco reached on infield single, Archambault scored.
Viola singled to right-center, Sinclair scored.
Bernard scored on error. Westphal scored on error. Sinclair doubled to right-center, Latini scored. Loranger singled to center, Sinclair scored.
D- Loranger 3, Bernard, Viola
P- Fusco, King
D- Sinclair 2, Bernard, Dutton, Latini, Viola, Westphal
P- Archambault, Williams
D- Bernard, Loranger, Sinclair, Viola
Left on base:
Dame and Lynch; Barnard, Villani (6) and King
Dame (W, 2-3) 7 IP 8 H 2 R 2 ER 0 BB 3 K
Barnard (L, 3-2) 5.1 IP 7 H 7 R 1 ER 2 BB 3 K 2 WP
Villani 1.2 IP 2 H 0 R o BB o K
PORTLAND—Deering’s baseball team has known nothing but frustration of late when it comes to squaring off against rival Portland, but Monday evening at Hadlock Field, the Rams finally got to enjoy the sweet taste of victory at the Bulldogs’ expense.
In the teams’ lone regularly scheduled battle this spring, Deering, the visiting team, came out energized and made an immediate statement when junior designated hitter Orey Dutton beat out a bunt single. Dutton would score on a wild pitch and senior centerfielder Dom Bernard’s sacrifice fly gave the Rams a 2-0 lead, but as so often happens against Portland, Deering gave it back.
In the bottom of the first, Bulldogs senior first baseman John Williams singled, moved to second on a ground ball, stole third and scored on a throwing error and junior centerfielder Nick Archambault followed with an opposite field triple, then scored the tying run on senior designated hitter Joey Fusco’s infield single.
In the past, the Rams wouldn’t have been able to rise off the deck, but this time around, they demonstrated their mental toughness and new-found confidence by not only hanging tough, but finding a way to win.
After junior starter Colby Dame held Portland’s bats at bay for three innings, Deering went on top to stay in the top of the fifth, as senior second baseman Pat Viola delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to score junior shortstop James Sinclair for a 3-2 lead.
The Rams then took advantage of the Bulldogs’ largesse in the sixth, as consecutive Portland errors led to runs, Sinclair ripped an RBI double and Loranger’s RBI single scored Sinclair for a 7-2 lead.
Dame allowed a couple of hits in the seventh, but with visions of another Portland comeback dancing in the heads of Deering’s fans, the southpaw picked off a runner for the final out and that brought the curtain down on the Rams’ 7-2 victory.
Deering got three hits from Loranger, two runs scored and an RBI from Sinclair, two hits from Bernard and a solid seven-inning effort from Dame as it snapped a five-year, five-game skid against the Bulldogs, evened its record at 6-6 and dropped Portland to 10-3 in the process.
“The guys came out ready to play,” said Rams coach Josh Stowell. “They were focused from the beginning. Infield was good, (batting practice) was good, so I had a good feeling that these guys were ready to go.”
Both teams were expected to be involved in the hotly contested Class A South race this spring, but while the Rams have been up-and-down, the Bulldogs have shown more consistency.
Portland looked invincible much of the year, then hit a rough spell. The Bulldogs rallied to edge visiting Biddeford, 4-3, in the opener, then downed visiting Westbrook (6-2) and Gorham (14-8), won at Massabesic (6-3), Windham (3-2) and Noble (10-3), topped visiting Sanford, 7-1, and Marshwood (3-0), then won at Cheverus, 8-1. A 9-2 loss at Bonny Eagle was followed by a tough 5-4, nine-inning defeat at Thornton Academy last Tuesday, in a game which saw Portland let a 4-2 seventh inning lead slip away. Saturday, the Bulldogs lost two players (juniors Jake Knop and Dom Tocci) and coach Mike Rutherford to ejection, gave up a 3-1 lead and fell behind, 4-3, in the eighth inning to visiting South Portland, but rose off the deck, scored runs in the bottom half and prevailed, 5-4.
Deering dropped its opener, 9-2, to visiting Thornton Academy, then rattled off four straight victories: 4-1 at home over Windham, 2-1, thanks to a seventh inning rally, over visiting Biddeford, 4-2 at Bonny Eagle and 3-2 at Westbrook. The Rams then lost five in a row: 4-0 at Marshwood, 5-2 to visiting Massabesic, 7-1 to visiting Scarborough, 4-3 at South Portland and 4-0 at Gorham. Friday, Deering got back on track with a much-needed 4-3 home win over Cheverus on Viola’s seventh inning RBI single.
Portland entered play Monday having beaten the Rams five straight times, including twice a year ago: 12-4 in the regular season, then 4-3 in come-from-behind fashion in a memorable Western A quarterfinal.
Portland has also had its way with Deering on the gridiron and hardwood during the high school careers of the Class of 2016.
This time around, the Bulldogs were looking to earn their 100th all-time win over Deering in countable games, but the Rams beat Portland for the first time since May 12, 2011 (11-0, in five innings).
Deering got off to a fast start with a little help.
Dutton led off by surprising Portland with a bunt down the third base line and he beat it out for a hit, then got to second when senior third baseman Jack Nichols’ throw got away. Viola followed with a seeing eye single between first and second to put runners at the corners. With Bernard at the plate, Barnard unleashed a wild pitch to score Dutton and move Viola to second. A second wild pitch moved Viola to third, then Bernard lofted a foul fly down the rightfield line which senior rightfielder Joe Clayton caught, but Viola came home on the play for a 2-0 lead. Barnard got out of the frame by striking out junior third baseman Spencer Todd and getting senior leftfielder Ian Westphal to line out to third.
The Bulldogs roared right back in their half of the first.
Williams, in the unfamiliar leadoff spot, lined a single to center to get things started. After senior leftfielder Zach Fortin grounded slowly to Viola at second, with Williams taking second, Williams stole third and then came home when Rams sophomore catcher Jack Lynch threw wildly past third base. Archambault then showed tremendous opposite field power, tripling over the lunge of Loranger in deep right-center. Fusco then beat out an infield single to the hole and Archambault scored easily to tie the game, 2-2. Dame avoided further damage by striking out Nichols and getting Barnard to ground out to first.
When Latini led off the top of the second by reaching on an error by sophomore shortstop William Snyder, who was filling in for Knop, it looked like more scoring was in store, but Sinclair lined out to left and Dame grounded to Williams at first, who tagged the bag for one out, then threw to Snyder, who tagged out Latini, to complete the inning-ending double play.
In the bottom half, Clayton grounded out to second, sophomore catcher Cam King singled off the glove of the diving Viola and after King took second on a ground out to third off the bat of junior second baseman Giovanni Ruotolo, Williams grounded out to third to end the threat.
Loranger started the third with an infield single to short, but was forced at second when a little pop up off the bat of Dutton landed behind Williams, as Ruotolo pounced on the ball and threw to Snyder for the force out. Viola then grounded back to Barnard, who wheeled and threw to Snyder for one out and Snyder threw on to Williams to complete the inning-ending, 1-6-3 double play.
In the bottom half, Fortin was out on a grounder back to the mound and Archambault grounded out to shortstop, but Fusco waited on a pitch and singled to right. Nichols couldn’t extend the inning, however, grounding out to third.
Barnard started the fourth by getting Bernard to chase a high pitch for strike three and Todd to ground out to short, but Westphal drew a walk. Latini then grounded out to third for the third out.
In the bottom half, Dame made quick work of the Bulldogs, getting Barnard to ground out to second, Clayton to line to second and King to fly to right.
Deering then got the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth.
Sinclair got things started by drawing a walk. After Dame looked at strike three, Loranger came up with his second hit, a single to right-center, to put runners at first and second. Dutton hit a sharp grounder to Williams at first, who threw to Snyder for a force, but Portland couldn’t turn the double play. That brought up Viola, who blooped a single to right-center to score Sinclair and put the Rams ahead to stay.
“I like being at the plate in those spots,” Viola said. “I love it. I just tried to get a clean base hit and not do anything too special.”
“Pat had a lull where he struggled, but he doesn’t get too high or too low,” Stowell said. “He works on his game and tries to get better. He’s improved and moved on. Baseball’s tough. You have to learn how to fail and be alright with it and Pat’s done a great job of that.”
With Bernard at the plate, Barnard uncorked what appeared to be a run-scoring wild pitch, but the ball took a fortuitous (for Portland) bounce directly to King and when Dutton tried to get back to third, King threw him out to end the inning.
Some terrific Rams defense helped Dame retire the Bulldogs in order in the bottom half.
Leading off, Ruotolo appeared to have a line single, but Viola dove to his right and stabbed the ball for the first out. Williams then crushed a pitch to deep center, but Bernard was there to make to the catch. Sinclair then moved to his right to snare Fortin’s line drive to end the frame.
Deering, again with some help, opened things up in the sixth.
Bernard got the uprising started with a solid ground single to right. After Todd sacrificed Bernard to second, Portland’s defense betrayed Barnard, as first Nichols threw away Westphal’s grounder, allowing Bernard to score, then Snyder threw wildly on Latini’s ground ball and Westphal came home for a 5-2 lead.
Sinclair followed with the big blow, a ringing double to right-center, scoring Latini, and the Rams not only added a run, but ended Barnard’s night.
Freshman Sonny Villani came on and got Dame to ground back to the mound for the second out, but Loranger’s third hit, an RBI single to center, scored Sinclair to make it 7-2. After Loranger stole second, Villani ended the eventful frame by getting Dutton to ground out to first.
Dame didn’t allow the Bulldogs to entertain any comeback hopes in the bottom of the sixth, fanning Archambault, getting Fusco to ground sharply to short, then, after Nichols beat out an infield single off Todd’s glove to end a string of nine straight batters retired, Lynch caught Nichols stealing to end it.
Viola led off the seventh with a blast to right-center, but Archambault ran it down. Bernard blooped a single down the leftfield line, but was thrown out stealing and Todd grounded to short to send the game to the final half-inning.
There, junior pinch-hitter Thomas Joyce led off by doing what he almost always seems to do, coming up with a hit, in this case a single to center. The Bulldogs couldn’t build on it, however, as Dame fanned Clayton on three pitches and after King reached on an infield single, Ruotolo popped out foul to Latini and with Williams at the plate, Dame picked off King and that did it as Deering finally got to celebrate a win over Portland.
“It feels amazing,” Dame said. “I thought about last year. I know we lost and we needed to win this year.”
“It feels great,” Viola said. “We’re just trying to ride the momentum. We have a brand new outlook. Portland’s a good team and they can come back. It’s overdue, for sure.”
“I’ve seen a great Deering team lose to a bad Portland team and a great Portland team lose to a terrible Deering team, so anything can happen,” Stowell added.
Dame improved to 2-3 by allowing two runs on eight hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.
“Everything worked,” Dame said. ‘I hadn’t pitched in 10 days, so I was ready. I felt great. The defense was amazing. They made some plays. That made me feel good.”
“Colby had a great effort,” Viola said. “We played good defense tonight.”
“Colby pitched great after the first,” Stowell added. “When he’s mentally into it, I’d put him against most anyone in the league. When he gets on top of his fastball and has good, late life, he misses bats. Guys chopped the ball into the ground and when we play solid defense, we should win anytime he’s on the mound.”
Offensively, Loranger had three hits and a stolen base, while Bernard and Viola both added a pair of hits. Sinclair scored twice, while Bernard, Dutton, Latini, Viola and Westphal each touched home once. Bernard, Loranger, Sinclair and Viola had RBI.
Deering stranded four runners.
Portland committed four errors and left four runners on. The Bulldogs did get a pair of hits apiece from Fusco and King, runs from Archambault and Williams and an RBI from Fusco. Williams finished with a stolen base.
Barnard fell to 3-2 after surrendering seven runs (just one earned) on seven hits in 5.1 innings. He walked two, threw a pair of wild pitches and fanned three. Villani allowed two hits in 1.2 scoreless innings. He didn’t walk a batter or register a strikeout.
“You’ve got to make plays and our errors led to their runs,” Mike Fullerton, who replaced Rutherford as coach for the night, lamented. “It’s a tough one to swallow. We’ll work to get better and hopefully have a different result next time. Charles threw well tonight. He battled. They just had timely hits and were ready to play today. We didn’t take advantage and we weren’t disciplined.”
Both teams have work to do to improve their playoff standing.
Portland (fourth in Class A South) plays its home finale Thursday versus Massabesic, then goes to Gorham Saturday and Scarborough Monday to close.
“We still have a few games left and we’ll get back to normal on Thursday,” Fullerton said.
Deering (now eighth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) hosts Noble Tuesday and Bonny Eagle Thursday, then closes with games at Biddeford Saturday and Sanford a week from Tuesday.
“This gives us good Heal Points,” Viola said. “We should be in good position for playoffs. We’re making good progress. Especially lately.”
“After beating Cheverus and Portland, I feel like we’ll be a good team in the playoffs,” Dame said.
“This is a good confidence builder for these guys,” Stowell added. “Before playing Cheverus, we treated it like a six-game season to get in the playoffs, hopefully get a home game and go on from there. The team that plays the best at the end will win. Guys are positive. We’re putting the barrel of the bat on the ball more, we’re eliminating pop-ups and strikeouts. We’re forcing the other team to make plays. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, throw strikes, play good D and put the barrel of the bat on the ball and we should be all set.”
Deering junior pitcher Colby Dame rears back and throws a strike. Dame went the distance to earn the victory.
Portland senior pitcher Charles Barnard fires home. Barnard only allowed one earned run, but took the loss.
Deering senior centerfielder Dom Bernard lines one of his two hits.
Deering senior second baseman Pat Viola dives to snare the ball in the fifth inning.
Portland sophomore shortstop William Snyder forces out Deering senior Nate Loranger.
Portland junior second baseman Giovanni Ruotolo prepares to barehand the ball.
Portland senior third baseman Jack Nichols prepares to tag out Deering junior Orey Dutton.
Deering junior third baseman Spencer Todd fields a ground ball as Portland sophomore Cam King looms in the background.
Portland 12 @ Deering 4
Western A quarterfinals
@ Portland 4 Deering 3
Portland 3 Deering 2 (8)
Deering 11 Portland 0 (5)
Portland 8 Deering 7
Deering 14 Portland 6
Western A quarterfinals
Deering 10 Portland 0 (6)
Deering 5 Portland 3
Deering 4 Portland 3 (9)
Deering 11 Portland 6
Western A Final
Deering 2 Portland 1 (8)
Portland 2 Deering 1
Western A semifinals
Portland 6 Deering 0
Deering 7 Portland 0
Portland 5 Deering 2
Western A semifinals
Portland 9 Deering 6
Deering 3 Portland 0 (11)
Deering 9 Portland 4
Western A Final
Deering 12 Portland 0 (5)