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PORTLAND—Deering’s bats were silenced for six-and-two-thirds innings Thursday evening at Hadlock Field, but did the Rams ever save their best for when it mattered most.
Hosting Biddeford in an early-season contest, Deering had no answer for Tigers junior ace Brady Crepeau most of the way, not even managing a base runner until two men were out in the fifth inning.
Biddeford had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third, when sophomore second baseman Logan Magnant doubled in freshman designated hitter Carter Edgerton with two down and that lead held until the seventh, when Crepeau was on the verge of closing out a transcendent effort.
With two outs and no one on base, Rams junior third baseman Spencer Todd, who broke up Crepeau’s perfect game in the fifth, singled to keep hope alive. After a passed ball moved sophomore pinch-runner Luc Harrison to second, senior catcher Luciano Minervino walked and was replaced by junior pinch-runner Robbie Dacey.
That set the stage for junior designated hitter Riley Bartell, who came up with his team’s biggest hit of the season so far, a single to center, to tie the score.
Senior rightfielder Nate Loranger then did Bartell one better, coming up with an even bigger hit, singling to right to bring home Dacey and Deering walked off with an improbable 2-1 victory.
“We got timely hitting at the end,” said Rams coach Josh Stowell. “I would have been more concerned down 3-0 or 4-0. A one-run lead, anything can happen. I knew these guys would fight to the end. I wasn’t too worried.”
Biddeford opened with a tough 4-3 walkoff loss at Portland. The Tigers then lost at home to Bonny Eagle Wednesday, 9-2.
Deering dropped its opener, 9-2, to visiting Thornton Academy, then got in the win column Wednesday, 4-1, over visiting Windham.
Last year, Deering rallied late to edge visiting Biddeford, 6-5.
Thursday, the Rams somehow managed to do it again.
It was clear from the get-go that it would be a pitching and defense kind of a night, as on Deering junior starter Colby Dame’s second pitch, senior shortstop Kerry Crepeau ripped a shot to right-center which Rams senior centerfielder Dom Bernard made a highlight reel running and diving catch to his left. Magnant struck out swinging, but Brady Crepeau singled to center. Senior first baseman Jason Vadnais grounded into a forceout to end the frame.
Brady Crepeau hinted at his dominance to come in the bottom half, getting senior leftfielder Ian Westphal to fly to right, fanning senior second baseman Pat Viola and getting Bernard to look at strike three.
Dame set the Tigers down in order in the second, fanning junior catcher Joey Curit, getting sophomore third baseman Colin Lavigne to fly to left and sophomore Curtis Petit to pop to first, as senior Jake Latini made a nice catch while backpedaling.
In the bottom half, junior shortstop James Sinclair struck out swinging, Latini popped out to third and Todd looked at strike three.
Biddeford broke through in the third.
Freshman designated hitter Carter Edgerton led off with a single to center and was sacrificed to second by junior rightfielder Nick Gallant, who almost beat the throw. Dame got Kerry Crepeau to ground to second for the second out, but Magnant ripped a pitch fair down the leftfield line for a double to easily score Edgerton for a 1-0 lead. Dame got Brady Crepeau to fly to Bernard in center to avoid further damage.
In the bottom half, Brady Crepeau got Minervino to ground to short, Bartell to ground out to first (with the pitcher covering) and Loranger to ground out to short.
Dame returned to form in the fourth, getting Vadnais to fly to center, Curit to pop to first and Lavigne to ground to third.
Crepeau stayed perfect in the bottom half, as Westphal grounded out to short, Viola was thrown out on a bang-bang play after a slow grounder to third and Bernard popped out to second.
After Dame set the Tigers down in order in the top of the fifth (Petit grounded out Latini to the pitcher, Edgerton grounded out to second and Gallant flew out to center), Deering finally got a hit.
Crepeau started the bottom of the fifth by getting Sinclair to ground out to short with Kerry Crepeau making a nice play and Latini to ground out to third on another bang-bang play, but Todd managed to muscle a single into rightfield to break the spell. Brady Crepeau escaped further damage by getting Minervino to ground out to short.
In the sixth, Kerry Crepeau led off with a single to right, but he was thrown out stealing, as Minervino threw to Viola for the out. Viola was hurt on the play, however, and had to leave the game. Senior Max Chabot replaced him. Dame then struck out Magnant and Brady Crepeau grounded out to second.
The Rams had a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in the bottom half, but couldn’t capitalize.
Bartell led off with a single to right and Loranger’s high hopper was mishandled by Lavigne for an error, putting runners at first and second. Crepeau came up huge, however, getting Westphal to line out foul to Vadnais at first on a sacrifice attempt, Chabot to pop back to the mound and Bernard to ground out to second on a close play.
Vadnais led off the seventh with a walk. Sophomore pinch-runner Evan Paquette was sacrificed to second by Curit and moved to third when Lavigne grounded out to second. Petit walked, but Dame got Edgerton to ground out to short to end the threat, setting the stage for the fateful bottom of the seventh.
Sinclair led off and looked at strike three. Latini grounded out third, but Todd kept hope alive with a single to right.
“Spencer’s at-bats were definitely big,” Bartell said. “Without him, we wouldn’t have won.”
“Spencer is a guy who struggled a little bit last year at the plate, but he can hit,” Stowell said. “I knew it was just going to be a matter of time until he came around. He proved tonight that he can hit.”
Luc Harrison pinch-ran and the fun just was just beginning.
When Curit couldn’t handle a Crepeau pitch and the ball went to the backstop, Harrison took second to put the tying run in the scoring position. Minervino then walked and was replaced by Dacey, who represented the winning run.
That brought up Bartell, who came through in the clutch, redirecting a fastball up the middle and Harrison raced home to tie the score, as Dacey took third base.
“We just focused on quality at-bats at the end of the game,” Bartell said. “I was just trying to hit the fastball. I knew with two outs, Luc was coming hard from second.”
Deering had staved off defeat and Loranger went out and won it, singling through the hole between first and second and Dacey came home to give the Rams a 2-1 victory in a tidy 95 minutes.
“It’s a dramatic win,” Loranger said. “We had trouble the whole game, then we picked it up and did what we needed to do with two outs. I was trying to shorten up with two strikes and hit the ball. Coach told me to run through the bag so I didn’t get thrown out. It was a fun celebration.”
“Both (Riley and Nate) came up big,” Stowell said. “They’re both line drive hitters. I told them to just treat it like (batting practice) and hit it through the middle and they did it. We did the same exact thing against these guys here last year. It’s nice for the guys to know they can pick each other up. It goes to show, 1 through 9, we can get it done.”
Deering didn’t have a baserunner for 4.2 innings and entered the seventh inning with only two hits, but rendered all that moot with its rally.
Bartell and Todd both had multiple hits, Dacey and Harrison scored runs and Bartell and Loranger had RBI.
The Rams stranded five runners, but that was lost in the comeback.
Dame’s effort was also overshadowed, but it deserves praise. Dame evened his record at 1-1 after allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out three.
“Colby kept the ball low and gave us a chance to play the ball,” Loranger said.
“Brady pitched a great game, but Colby matched him pitch for pitch for the most part,” said Stowell. “He made some adjustments and we played solid defense behind him.”
Biddeford got a run from Edgerton and an RBI from Magnant, but stranded four runners and couldn’t wait to get out of Hadlock after its second walkoff loss in a week.
Crepeau was the hard-luck loser, falling to 0-1 after giving up two earned runs on five hits in 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out five.
“(Brady) hit his spots pretty good early,” Bartell said. “He has a good off-speed pitch. We weren’t attacking and he was able to use his curve. We finally started hitting his fastball late in the game.”
While Biddeford returns home Saturday to meet Westbrook, Deering plays its first road game, at Bonny Eagle. The Rams also have to go to Westbrook and Marshwood next week.
“(This win) definitely gives us confidence going forward,” Bartell said.
“We’ve won two in a row, so this gives us momentum,” Loranger said. “We’ll build on this.”
B- 001 000 0- 1 4 1
D- 000 000 2- 2 5 0
Magnant doubled to left, Edgerton scored.
Bartell singled to center, Harrison scored. Loranger singled to right, Dacey scored.
D- Bartell, Todd
D- Dacey, Harrison
D- Bartell, Loranger
Left on base:
B. Crepeau and Curit; Dame and Minervino
Crepeau (L, 0-1) 6.2 IP 5 H 2 R 2 ER 1 BB 5 K
Dame (W, 1-1) 7 IP 4 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 3 K