Lewis' gem leads SP past Noble

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South Portland sophomore Noah Lewis throws a strike during the Red Riots’ 7-0 home win over Noble Thursday. Lewis threw a five-hit shutout for his first varsity triumph.

Brianna Soukop / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

South Portland 7 Noble 0

N- 000 000 0- 0 5 2
SP- 100 060 X- 7 9 1

Bottom 1st
Hasson grounded out to first, A. Poole scored.

Bottom 5th
Begonia scored on throwing error. Hasson singled to center, Johnston and Perron scored. Johnston reached on infield single, McHugh scored. J. Poole tripled to center, Hasson and Johnson scored. 

Repeat hitters:
N- Lacroix 3, Johnson

Runs:
SP- Begonia, Hasson, Johnson, Johnston, Perron, A. Poole, J. Poole

RBI:
SP- Hasson 3, J. Poole 2, Johnson

Triple:
SP- J. Poole

Stolen base:
N- Johnson

Left on base:
N- 5
SP- 4

Lacroix, Cantin (6) and Grondin; Lewis and Horton

N:
Lacroix (L, 3-1) 5 IP 9 H 7 R 4 ER 0 BB 2 K 1 HBP
Cantin 1 IP 0 H 0 R 2 BB 2 K

SP:
Lewis (W, 1-1) 7 IP 5 H 0 R 0 BB 10 K 1 WP

Time: 1:25

SOUTH PORTLAND—South Portland’s offense doesn’t always produce, but when the Red Riots are hitting, look out.

Because their pitching is pretty good too.

Thursday afternoon at Wainwright Farms, South Portland hosted Noble in a battle of 5-2 teams and the Red Riots got a superb pitching performance from sophomore Noah Lewis, making his second varsity start.

South Portland’s offense, however, didn’t provide much support until all of a sudden, it roared to life.

And a key victory was the end result.

After Lewis escaped a jam in the top of the first, the Red Riots took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half, when sophomore rightfielder Anthony Poole singled, moved up on an error, took third on a single by senior second baseman Noah McHugh, then came home on a ground ball off the bat of senior shortstop Riley Hasson. 

That would be it for offense for several innings, but Lewis was up to the challenge, setting the Knights down in order in the second, third and fifth innings, and escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam in the fourth.

Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, Lewis’ teammates gave him some support.

Make that a lot of support.

South Portland loaded the bases with no one out and after a run scored on an error, Hasson ripped a two-run single, senior third baseman Zach Johnson drove in a run with an infield hit, then senior first baseman Jake Poole produced the coup de grace, a two-run triple, to break it open.

Lewis shut the door from there and the Red Riots went on to a 7-0 victory, their third in a row.

Lewis threw a five-hit shutout, struck out 10 and earned his first varsity win as South Portland improved to 6-2, dropping Noble to 5-3 in the process.

“It feels really good to get a win,” Lewis said. “It’s fun. I really like this team. I can’t wait to keep going.” 

Very much in contention

As the 2018 regular season hits the midway point, there isn’t a clear favorite in Class A South and every team but one (Portland), has a minimum of two losses.

Noble and South Portland have been very competitive all spring.

The Knights started with a 5-4 win at Scarborough. After falling at home to Portland (6-1) and at Windham (2-1), Noble rattled off victories over visiting Falmouth (5-2), the two-time defending regional champion, host Massabesic (5-1), visiting Biddeford (5-3) and visiting Bonny Eagle (7-6).

The Red Riots enjoyed a 10-0 (five-inning) win at Massabesic to start the year, then downed visiting Kennebunk, 8-1, and Biddeford, 11-1 (in five-innings), before falling at Bonny Eagle (4-0) and at home to Scarborough (5-2). South Portland got back on track with a 3-2, come-from-behind victory at Marshwood and Tuesday, handled visiting Gorham, 8-3.

Last year, the Red Riots enjoyed a 5-1 victory in North Berwick.

Thursday, on an overcast and chilly (49 degrees at first pitch) afternoon, Noble sought its first win over South Portland since April 22, 2006 (6-5 at home), but the Red Riots managed to win their 12th successive game in the series, as Lewis sent the Knights down in a tidy 85 minutes.

Noble appeared primed to get off to a fast start, when shortstop Coby Johnson led off with a single down the leftfield line and stole second, but when centerfielder Owen Podolec flew out to right, Johnson tried to move to third, only to be thrown out by Anthony Poole. That loomed large, as Knights starting pitcher Jake Lacroix followed with a single to left, only to be stranded when first baseman Bryce Cantin grounded out to second.

South Portland then produced the only run it needed in the bottom of the frame.

Anthony Poole led off by grounding the ball slowly to third for an infield single and when third baseman Will Shapleigh threw the ball away, Poole moved to second. McHugh followed with a single to left and Poole went to third. Hasson then grounded the ball slowly to first, where Cantin fielded it and threw to Lacroix covering for the out, but Poole came home for a 1-0 advantage.

“That was a big momentum swing,” said Red Riots coach Mike Owens. “We’ve gotten down early, so avoiding that today was big, then we got a cheap run and sat on that for a bit.” 

Johnson popped out foul to first and Jake Poole hit a ground ball to short to end the frame.

In the top of the second, Lewis made quick work of the Knights, getting Shapleigh to pop out foul to first before blowing strike three past leftfielder Matt Ryan and catching catcher Jared Grondin looking at strike three.

The Red Riots couldn’t add to their lead in the bottom half, as Lacroix got junior catcher Caden Horton to ground back to the mound, sophomore designated hitter Hunter Owen to fly out to center and after speedy senior Khem Johnston reached on an infield single to the hole, sophomore centerfielder Anthony Perron lined out to center, where Podolec made a diving catch.

Noble went quietly in the top of the third, as Lewis fanned rightfielder Zack Picard looking, got second baseman Duncan McGilvery to fly out to center and Johnson to watch strike three.

South Portland went quickly in its half, as Anthony Poole grounded to short, McHugh watched strike three and Hasson hit a fly ball to center.

The Knights then got a break to start the fourth, as Podolec’s line drive to center was dropped by Perron for an error and Lacroix followed with a single to center. Cantin grounded into a third-to-second force out, but with runners at the corners, Noble had the opportunity to pull even without a hit.

Lewis wasn’t about to let it happen, however, as he fanned Shapleigh and after throwing a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position, Lewis got Ryan to chase strike three to keep the Red Riots on top.

In the bottom half, Johnson watched strike three, Poole hit the ball hard, but right at Ryan in left, and after Horton reached on a single to left-center, he was thrown out trying to steal.

Lewis remained dominant in the fifth, getting Grondin to chase strike three, Picard to ground out to second and McGilvery to swing and miss at strike three as well.

Prior to coming to the plate, South Portland was beseeched by Owens to produce some offense and the Red Riots listened.

Owen led off with a sharp single to left-center and was replaced by senior courtesy runner Nate Begonia. Johnston hit a grounder to third, where Shapleigh looked Begonia back to second, but by the time he threw to first, Johnston had raced down the line to reach safely. Perron then dropped down a sacrifice bunt and beat it out for a hit to load the bases.

Then, the fun really began.

Anthony Poole hit a line drive to the right side of the infield, where McGilvery made a nice stab, but McGilvery tried to double off Perron and threw the ball away, allowing Begonia to score. Lacroix then hit McHugh to load the bases and Hasson made him pay, lining a single to center, bringing home Johnston and Perron to make it 4-0 with the runners moving up on the throw. Johnson was next and he beat out an infield hit to short to bring home Poole with the fifth run, putting runners at the corners.

Then, Jake Poole stepped to the fore, crushing a pitch over the head of Podolec in center, scoring Hasson and Johnson, as Poole raced into third with a triple.

“When the bottom of the lineup can come up huge, it’s kind of contagious,” Poole said. “It gives us confident and we feel like we have to come through. We want to keep it going. My first at-bat, I was out in front. Second at-bat, I just missed. Third at-bat, I was out in front of my first pitch, then made an adjustment. I got the pitch I was looking for and I just drove it.”

“We’ve had some big innings this year, so we just had to plug away and make adjustments during the game,” Owens said. “Our lineup is deep, so we can put a big number up in a hurry. That obviously settled everyone down and ended the game. (Riley and Jake) hit in the middle of the lineup for a reason. They’re our big guys and our leaders and they come through in the clutch more often than they don’t.”

Lacroix got Horton to pop foul down the first base line and Poole tried to score. He was thrown out to end the inning, but South Portland was on top, 7-0.

Noble made a little noise in the top of the sixth, but wound up stranding two runners.

Johnson led off with an infield single down the third base line. After Podolec flew out deep to center, Lacroix lashed a single to left, but Cantin flew out to center and Shapleigh lined to center for the third out.

Cantin came on to face a series of pinch-hitters in the bottom of the sixth and he got senior Daniel Mickiewicz to ground to third leading off. Senior Riley Campbell drew a walk, but senior Kody Hammond-Daniels struck out looking. After senior Connor Buckley drew a walk on a full count pitch, senior Jimmy DiBiase struck out swinging to send the game to the seventh.

Where Lewis quickly wrapped up the victory.

Lewis got pinch-hitter David Hamme to pop out to third leading off, then caught Grondin looking at strike three, before slamming the door by fanning pinch-hitter Matt Place to put a wrap on the 7-0 victory.

Lewis evened his record at 1-1 after giving up five hits and no walks in seven scoreless innings. He threw one wild pitch and struck out 10 batters.

“I was trying to spot too much last game, but this game I came out and threw as fast as I could,” said Lewis. “My fastball felt good, but my curveball and change-up were good too. My defense had me. I just wanted to pound the zone and not walk anybody.”

“It was great to see a sophomore come out and pitch like that and lead the team to the win,” Jake Poole said. “I could tell in warmups that he was focused. He locked in and kept rolling.”

“Noah was the story,” Owens added. “We know what he’s capable of. It’s always good to see him go out like that against a really good team. I thought he dominated with his fastball. A great performance from him. He was good last year for first year and JV and he put a lot of time in the weight room and his hard work is paying off.” 

The Red Riots produced nine hits, but no one had multiple hits. Begonia, Hasson, Johnson, Johnston, Perron, Anthony Poole and Jake Poole all scored runs. Hasson had three RBI, Jake Poole drove in two runs and Johnson had an RBI as well.

South Portland left four runners on base.

Noble got three hits from Lacroix and a pair from Johnson, who also stole a base. The Knights stranded five runners.

Lacroix fell to 3-1 after giving up seven runs (four earned) on nine hits in five innings. Lacroix didn’t issue a walk, hit one batter and fanned two.

Cantin mopped up with a scoreless, hitless inning. He walked two and struck out two.

Eyeing a bye

The second half of the season presents multiple challenges for both squads.

Noble (fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) is back in action Saturday when Westbrook pays a visit. The Knights go to Thornton Academy and host Marshwood and Cheverus next week.

South Portland (currently third in the region) goes to Cheverus Saturday, then has home games against Windham and Deering before having to travel to Portland, Thornton Academy and Falmouth.

“We’ve talk about improving the rest of the way and we’re seeing it,” Jake Poole said. “We’re coming up big in big situations because of experience.”

“There’s always been a lot of parity in the league because the depth, but this year, 1 through 17, anybody can beat anybody on a given day,” Owens said. “We know we have Hunter. If Noah or Zach can step up (as pitchers), we can add depth. We’re still piecing it together.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

South Portland junior Caden Horton is tagged out by Noble second baseman Duncan McGilvery.

South Portland senior Riley Hasson lines a fifth inning two-run single to put the Red Riots up 4-0.

South Portland sophomore pitcher Noah Lewis is congratulated by junior catcher Caden Horton following his complete game shutout victory.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.