- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
Cheverus senior first baseman Andrew DeGeorge is mobbed by his teammates after delivering the game-winning bunt single in the seventh inning of the Stags’ 8-7 home win over Falmouth in a playoff rematch Tuesday.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
F- 121 012 0- 7 7 4
C- 040 021 1- 8 13 4
* One out when winning run scored.
Manganello walked, Coyne scored.
Coyne singled to center, Lefevre scored. Coffin scored on error.
Knowles reached on infield single, Cimino scored. DeGeorge scored on error. Rogers doubled to left, Mullen scored. Knowles scored on Ray’s squeeze bunt.
Quinn tripled to right-center, Manganello scored.
Lefevre singled to left, Manganello scored.
Lapoint doubled to left-center, Rogers and Ray scored.
Coffin scored on wild pitch. Kiely scored on wild pitch.
Ray singled to left, Knowles scored.
DeGeorge reached on bunt single, Lapoint scored.
F- Coyne, Lefevre
C- Rogers 3, Cimino, Knowles, Lapoint, Ray
F- Coffin, Manganello 2, Coyne, Kiely, Lefevre
C- Knowles 2, Cimino, DeGeorge, Lapoint, Mullen, Ray, Rogers
F- Coyne, Lefevre, Manganello, Quinn
C- Lapoint, Ray 2, DeGeorge, Knowles, Rogers
C- Lapoint, Rogers
F- Lefevre 3, Coffin, Coyne 2, Ford, Kidder, Manganello
Left on base:
Coyne, D. Tracy (5), Smith (7) and Kiely; Clark, Galeucia (3), Ray (6), Mullen (7) and Connolly.
Coyne 4.1 IP 8 H 6 R 3 ER 0 BB 3 K 1 HBP
D. Tracy 1.2 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 0 K
Smith (L, 3-2) 0.1 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 0 K
* Clark 2+ IP, 3 H 4 R 2 ER 3 BB 2 K 1 HBP 1 WP
Galeucia 3 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 2 K 1 HBP
Ray 1.1 IP 2 H 2 R 2 ER 4 BB 2 K 2 WP
Mullen (W, 2-3) 0.2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K
* Clark faced two batters in the 3rd.
PORTLAND—Last June 9, Cheverus rallied to beat Falmouth on Andrew DeGeorge’s two-out, walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning in the teams’ Class A South semifinal round baseball playoff game.
The squads matched up again Tuesday afternoon at Kevin MacDonald Memorial Field and anyone who doesn’t think that history repeats itself should have been in attendance.
In the latest chapter of what has quickly become a fierce, can’t-miss rivalry, two squads desperately seeking Heal Points and the opportunity to move up the standings, did battle in a back-and-forth affair that had to be decided by a familiar source.
The Yachtsmen got out to a fast start in the top of the first inning, when senior first baseman Sam Manganello walked with the bases loaded against Stags sophomore starting pitcher Sam Clark, scoring freshman pitcher Brady Coyne.
Falmouth scored twice more in the second, as Coyne hit an RBI single and a second run came home on an error for a 3-0 advantage.
Cheverus, which was no-hit in its most recent outing, then erupted in the bottom of the second for four runs to go on top, as junior second baseman Luke Knowles drove in a run with an infield single, an error brought in another, junior centerfielder Nate Rogers (a former Yachtsmen) tied the score with an RBI double and senior shortstop Justin Ray’s squeeze bunt produced a 4-3 lead.
Falmouth drew even in the top of the third, as junior designated hitter Jackson Quinn tripled home Manganello, and in the fifth, junior third baseman Josh Lefevre’s two-out RBI single gave the visitors a 5-4 advantage.
It didn’t last, as in the bottom half, senior leftfielder Nathaniel Lapoint ripped a two-run double to put the Stags ahead again, but in the top of the sixth, the Yachtsmen scored twice on wild pitches for a 7-6 lead.
Back came Cheverus, as Ray hit an RBI single, but a pair of defensive gems from Falmouth sophomore leftfielder Gus Ford kept the game tied.
The Yachtsmen stranded a pair of runners in the top of the seventh and in the bottom of the frame, the Stags ended it, as Lapoint singled, was sacrificed to second, moved to third on a single from junior third baseman Chris Cimino, then came home when DeGeorge, the senior first baseman, laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt single to give Cheverus a palpitating 8-7 victory.
The Stags did just enough to improve to 8-4 on the season while dropping Falmouth to 6-5 in the process.
“It’s fun now that we’ve won,” said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “We’re not a great hitting team, but you have to do the little stuff to win games.”
Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on local baseball teams this spring and while Cheverus has dealt with its share of rainouts, Falmouth has been even more adversely affected, but each squad is in the thick of the playoff hunt as the season nears its conclusion.
After four straight rainouts, the Yachtsmen started with a 2-0 loss at Portland, then dropped a 9-4 home decision to Windham. After three more rainouts, Falmouth dropped a 2-0 decision at South Portland, then got in the win column at Massabesic, 10-0, in six-innings. The Yachtsmen followed that up by edging visiting Deering (2-1), downing host Marshwood (7-3) and outlasting visiting Gorham in 12-innings, 2-1. After letting a late lead slip away in an 8-3, eight-inning home loss to Scarborough, Falmouth bounced back and downed host Westbrook (13-6) and Biddeford (8-0).
The Stags, meanwhile, started with wins at Marshwood (7-2) and Gorham (2-1, in 11-innings, in a regional final rematch), then downed visiting Noble (14-4, in six-innings) and Massabesic (6-5). After a 3-0 loss at Kennebunk, Cheverus blanked visiting Sanford (6-0), then they dropped a hard-fought 9-8 decision at Thornton Academy and got blanked by visiting Scarborough (4-0). After edging host Biddeford, 2-1, and winning at home over Bonny Eagle, 5-3, the Stags were no-hit at Portland’s Donnie Tocci Friday, 1-0, and started a game at home against Windham with no hits in two innings Monday, before that contest was wiped out by rain.
The teams didn’t play a countable game until the 2017 Class A South Final (see sidebar, below) and split two meetings a year ago, including Cheverus’ memorable semifinal round triumph.
Tuesday, on a pleasant (61 degrees) but extremely windy afternoon, there was plenty of drama and even a little contentiousness, but above all else, there was almost no separation between the squads before the home team enjoyed the last laugh.
Coyne set the tone by singling to center leading off the contest. Junior shortstop Connor Coffin then squibbed the ball in front of the plate and was thrown out by freshman catcher Kevin Connolly with Coyne moving to second. After junior catcher Ike Kiely was hit by a pitch on an 0-2 pitch, senior centerfielder Sam Kidder drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Clark appeared poised to escape the jam when he caught senior rightfielder Garrett Tracy, who fouled off multiple pitches, to look at strike three, but Manganello worked the count full, then drew a walk to score Coyne for the game’s first run. Clark kept the score 1-0 by getting Quinn to ground out to second.
Cheverus threatened in the bottom of the first against Coyne, but couldn’t answer.
Coyne fanned Knowles leading off, but Rogers, who came to Cheverus this school year after two years at Falmouth, beat out an infield single to the right side. After Ray popped out to second, senior designated hitter John Welch was plunked by a pitch. That brought up Lapoint, who hit the ball to short, where Coffin threw to sophomore second baseman Connor Quiet for the third out.
The Yachtsmen kept the pressure on in the top of the second, tacking on a pair of runs.
Lefevre led off by reaching on a ground ball to short that Ray gloved, but threw wide. After Lefevre stole second, Ford looked at strike three, but Coyne singled to center to score Lefevre for a 2-0 lead. A wild pitch moved Coyne to second and after Coffin reached when Ray couldn’t handle his slow roller and promptly stole second, Coyne was thrown out when Kiely grounded to third and Coyne was caught in no-man’s land before being tagged out. Clark was on the verge of escaping further damage, but Kidder’s grounder to short was thrown away by Ray, allowing Coffin to come home with another run. After Kiely stole second, Tracy had a chance to break it open, but he grounded out to first to keep the score 3-0.
It didn’t stay that way for long in the bottom of the second.
Clark led off by helping himself, grounding an infield single off the glove of a diving Coffin at short. Cimino then singled to right and DeGeorge laid down a sacrifice bunt. DeGeorge reached safely as well, when Coyne threw wild. Senior rightfielder Jack Mullen grounded to third and Lefevre threw home to Kiely for a force out, but Knowles reached on an infield single to score Cimino. On the play, Manganello threw wild and DeGeorge came home as well to cut the deficit to 3-2.
And Cheverus wasn’t done.
Rogers put a charge into a Coyne offering, doubling to left, and on the play, Mullen came home to tie it, with the runners taking second and third. Ray then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt and while he was thrown out at first, Knowles came home for the lead. Welch popped out for the third out, but the Stags had a 4-3 advantage.
“In the Portland game, we had some good at-bats,” said DeGeorge. “We had a captain’s practice after to get our hitting back in order. We know we’re a good hitting team.”
Cheverus’ lead was short lived, as in the top of the third, it took just two batters for Falmouth to pull even.
Manganello walked leading off, then Clark gave up a booming triple to Quinn to right-center and Manganello came home to make it 4-4.
That was it for Clark, who was replaced on the hill by junior Nick Galeucia.
The Yachtsmen appeared poised to retake the lead, but after Lefevre reached on an infield single, as his high pop fly dropped near shortstop, Quinn tried to come home and score. It proved to be an ill-advised move, as Ray’s throw home to Connolly was in plenty of time for the out. Compounding matters, Quinn barreled into the catcher and that was enough for the umpires to eject him from the game. Lefevre stole second, but when a pitch got away from Connolly, Lefevre tried to move up to third only to be thrown out. Ford then bounced out to second to end the eventful inning.
“After the play at the plate, that gave us some fire,” McKew said.
Cheverus couldn’t answer in the bottom half, going 1-2-3 against Coyne, as Lapoint bounced out to second, Galeucia lined out to right and Cimino grounded out to second.
Galeucia hit Coyne with a pitch leading off the fourth, but he got Coffin to ground into a third-to-second force out and after Coffin stole second, Kiely and Kidder both chased strike three.
The Stags went quietly again in the bottom of the inning, as DeGeorge fanned on a 3-2 pitch, Mullen watched strike three and Knowles grounded out to third.
Falmouth then went back on top in the top of the fifth, thanks to a key two-out hit.
Tracy led off by grounding out to Ray, with DeGeorge making a nice scoop at first on a low throw. Manganello then drew a walk and stole second, then took third when new designated hitter, senior Jake Ricker, bounced out to second. That brought up Lefevre, who singled to left on the first pitch to plate Manganello for a 5-4 lead. Lefevre stole second again, but was stranded when Ford grounded out to second.
In the bottom half, Cheverus roared back again.
Rogers led off with his third hit, a single up the middle, then moved to second when Ray singled to left. Welch couldn’t move the runners up, flying out to left, but Lapoint made that a moot point, crushing a drive up the hill in left-center to bring home Rogers and Ray for the lead.
That was it for Coyne, who was replaced by freshman Dom Tracy, who kept the game close despite a throwing error by Lefevre, which allowed Clark to reach safely. With runners at first and second, Dom Tracy got Cimino to ground into a second-to-shortstop force out, then got junior pinch-hitter Avery Conant to ground to Lefevre, who made a nice backhanded stab before throwing low to first, where Manganello made a nice scoop to keep the score 6-5 Cheverus.
Falmouth then scored twice in the top of the sixth with the benefit of just one hit.
Ray took over, hoping to close it out, and he got Coyne to ground out to third leading off, but Coffin walked and stole second and after Kiely walked as well, Kidder singled to right to load the bases. Ray appeared on the brink of escaping the jam when he fanned Kidder on a 3-2 pitch, but with Manganello at the plate, Ray threw a wild pitch in the dirt which got away from Connolly, allowing Coffin to come home to tie it. Another wild pitch, this one on a high offering, brought home Kiely and the Yachtsmen were back on top. Ricker fanned on a 3-2 pitch, but Falmouth took a 7-6 lead to the bottom of the sixth.
Where the Stags countered once more.
Mullen grounded out to third leading off, but Knowles singled to left-center, then went to third when Rogers grounded a 3-2 pitch to Manganello, who misplayed it for an error, allowing Rogers to take first. Rogers stole second and Ray, after fouling off multiple pitches, followed with a single to left, easily scoring Knowles, but a strong throw from Ford nailed Rogers at the plate for the second out. Welch then blooped a pitch down the leftfield line, but after a long run, Ford dove and made a tremendous catch for the third out, keeping the score 7-7.
The Yachtsmen had ample opportunities to go on top in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t take advantage.
After Lefevre grounded back to the mound, Ford beat out a slow roller to third for an infield single. Ford then moved to second when Ray’s pickoff throw was wild. After Ford stole third, Coyne fouled off several pitches before drawing a walk to put runners at the corners.
Ray was replaced by Mullen, who successful walked the high-wire.
Coffin had a chance to give Falmouth the lead, but he popped out to first. Kiely then hit a slow roller to short, where Ray, who had returned to his original position, raced to his left and threw out a sliding Kiely by a step to end the frame with the contest still even.
“Jack has shut people down all year,” DeGeorge said. “Other than Justin, there’s no one else I’d want pitching in that spot.”
Cheverus then brought an end to the festivities in the bottom of the seventh.
Freshman Bennett Smith came on to pitch for the Yachtsmen and he gave up a single to Lapoint on his first pitch. Sophomore Nick Giancotti then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Lapoint to second. Cimino then went the other way, singling in the hole between short and third, but Lapoint had to wait and see if the ball got through and he could only advance to third.
And that, poetically, brought up DeGeorge with a chance to repeat history.
Last year, DeGeorge played the hero with a well-struck single.
Tuesday, it was more of a whimper than a bang.
With Lapoint breaking for home, DeGeorge laid down a textbook bunt to Smith’s left and Lapoint crossed the plate into a throng of his teammates with the winning run to end the 8-7 thriller in a 2-hours, 29-minutes.
“I thought it was like deja vu all over again,” DeGeorge said. “I was thinking that in practice I’m a terrible bunter. The coaches will say I’m the worst bunter on the team, but I knew I had to do a job and get my team a win. After the chippiness, I wanted to pick my team up. It felt very good. We just have great team chemistry. We have great leaders. We knew we can depend on each other and get a win.”
“(Andrew) just gets the walkoffs against Falmouth,” McKew said. “He hasn’t hit that well this year, but he’s been solid at first base and has a great attitude. He’s a great kid. He didn’t have to be the best bunter, but he just had to get it down with the runner going. We did a nice job playing small-ball.
“Nathaniel had some great swings today. His hit leading off the inning was key. Giancotti had a great bunt with the third baseman breathing down his throat.
“We have a nice rivalry going with these guys now. It’s heating up. Rogers transferred over. All those little drama pieces.”
Rogers had three hits for Cheverus, while Cimino, Knowles, Lapoint and Ray also had multiple hits.
Knowles scored twice, while Cimino, DeGeorge, Lapoint, Mullen, Ray and Rogers also touched home.
Lapoint and Ray each drove in two runs, while DeGeorge, Knowles and Rogers had one RBI apiece.
The Stags stranded eight baserunners.
Mullen, who has lost three games this season when the opposing hurler threw a shutout, improved to 2-3 after two-thirds of a shutout inning of high-pressure relief.
“Jack was 1-3 coming in, poor guy,” McKew said. “This was poetic justice for him. He did a great job getting out of that jam.”
Clark surrendered four runs (two earned) on three hits in two-plus innings. Clark walked three, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and struck out two.
Galeucia held the fort with three innings of relief, giving up one earned run on two hits. He walked one, hit a batter and fanned two.
“I give a lot of credit to Nick Galeucia,” said McKew. “He ate up some key innings for us. We’re trying to manage pitching and innings.”
Ray gave up two earned runs on two hits in 1.1 innings. He walked four, threw two wild pitches and struck out two.
Falmouth got two hits apiece from Coyne and Lefevre, two runs apiece from Coffin and Manganello and one each from Coyne, Kiely and Lefevre, and RBI from Coyne, Lefevre, Manganello and Quinn.
The Yachtsmen stole a whopping 10 bases on 11 attempts (Lefevre had three and Coffin and Coyne two apiece), but stranded 11 runners.
Smith fell to 3-2 after giving up the winning run on two hits in a third of an inning.
Coyne didn’t get a decision after giving up six runs (three earned) on eight hits in 4.1 innings. He didn’t walk a batter, hit one and struck out three.
Dom Tracy gave up one earned run on two hits in 1.2 innings of relief.
“I thought it was a good game,” Falmouth coach Kevin Winship said. “Both teams made mistakes, both teams capitalized on each other team’s mistakes and we just wound up on the wrong end. We had opportunities. We got big hits at times. There were a couple times early, if we’d gotten another one, we might have been OK.
“I can’t be more happy than I am with the guys who pitched. I pitched three freshmen and we took them to the bottom of the seventh.
“(DeGeorge) just got the squeeze bunt down. Tip your cap to him. He made the play.”
Falmouth (currently 12th in the Class A South Heal Point standings, where 12 teams qualify for the playoffs) has five games in a seven-day span upcoming to close the year, but four of them are at home. The Yachtsmen host Bonny Eagle Thursday, Sanford Saturday and Thornton Academy Monday. After a trip to Kennebunk Tuesday of next week. Falmouth finishes at home versus Noble May 29.
“This would have gone a long way for us, but we’re competing with the top teams,” Winship said. “We’re right there. We just have to get in (to the tournament). I think we’d be very dangerous. We still have a lot of games. We finally have a day off tomorrow to practice and work on some of the the mistakes we made today. We have a lot of potential.”
Cheverus (now fourth in the Heals) has another huge test Thursday at unbeaten, top-ranked South Portland. The Stags host Deering Saturday, go to Westbrook Tuesday of next week, then close the regular season at home versus Windham in a makeup game May 29.
“We have a big week and this will give us momentum,” DeGeorge said. “We want to rattle off five (wins) in a row and get a top four spot (for the playoffs). If we get the bats going, the way we pitch and play defense, I don’t think there’s a team that can stop us.”
“Hopefully we can build on this,” said McKew. “It’s a big win. We’ll have a tough matchup Thursday at South Portland, but we’ll take 8-4 after 12 games.”
Falmouth junior shortstop Connor Coffin lunges in an attempt to reach a ground ball.
Cheverus senior Justin Ray tags out Falmouth’s Brady Coyne in a rundown.
Junior Connor Coffin steals one of Falmouth’s 10 bases as Cheverus junior second baseman Luke Knowles tries to reach the throw.
Cheverus senior Nathaniel Lapoint celebrates after scoring the winning run.
Cheverus senior Andrew DeGeorge is congratulated by senior John Welch (23) as freshman Kevin Connolly joins the celebration.
All of the Stags get in on the celebration.
@ Falmouth 3 Cheverus 1
Class A South semifinal
@ Cheverus 5 Falmouth 4
Class A South Final
Falmouth 4 Cheverus 1