Deering takes huge step with win over Scarborough
PORTLAND—Deering's baseball team is clearly improved and while the Rams have been very competitive this spring, they were just lacking a signature victory.
Thursday evening at Hadlock Field, Deering went out and got one.
Hosting highly touted Scarborough, the Rams broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to RBI doubles from junior Kevin Goldberg and sophomore Pat Viola, then turned to sophomore Dan Marzilli, who pitched the game of his young life, to lead them to victory.
Deering held a 4-0 lead entering the sixth and was up, 4-1, with two outs and no one on in the Red Storm seventh, but Scarborough refused to go quietly, scoring twice.
Then, the potential tying run, sophomore Nick Lorello, appeared to deliver a game-extending base hit with the meat of the Scarborough order coming up, but Rams junior shortstop Nick Bevilacqua made a breathtaking (and highly disputed) highlight-reel play to end it and Deering earned a 4-3 victory.
The Rams got two RBI from Viola, 6.2 solid innings of work from Marzilli and improved to 3-6 on the season, dropping the Red Storm to 3-5 in the process.
"I'm just psyched we won in such dramatic fashion," Deering coach Tim Eisenhart said. "They've worked so hard. This means so much to the kids. They've stuck with it."
Deering and Scarborough both entered the game with sub-.500 records and know that they'll need to win the majority of their games the rest of the way to make the playoffs.
The Rams opened with a 5-1 home loss to Westbrook and an 11-6 setback at Massabesic before getting in the win column with a 9-1 home triumph over Thornton Academy. After getting doubled up at Sanford, 16-8, Deering came home and beat Noble, 4-2. Tough losses at Gorham (3-2) and Marshwood (13-11) and at home to Biddeford (7-4) followed.
The Red Storm were the best regular season team in Western A last spring before being upset by Portland in the quarterfinals. Scarborough entered 2014 with high hopes, but dropped its first four: 4-3 to visiting Noble, 4-2 to visiting Marshwood, 2-1 to visiting Bonny Eagle and 4-2 at Biddeford before coming to life to defeat host Cheverus, 2-0, handing visiting South Portland its first loss, 6-1, then eking out a 5-4 victory at Windham Tuesday.
Deering won 11 of the first 12 meetings between the schools (see sidebar, below), but Scarborough had won the last two in shutout fashion, 11-0, at Deering in 2012 and 6-0 at home last spring.
Thursday, on a pleasant evening, the Rams rose up and earned a most valuable victory.
Scarborough threatened to start, as Lorello, the shortstop greeted Marzilli with a seeing eye single up the middle, but he wasn't able to score. Junior designated hitter Zach Carreiro struck out and senior first baseman Ben Greenberg ripped a hard ground ball up the middle that took a fortuitous Deering bounce off the mound right to Viola, the second baseman. Viola stepped on the second base bag and threw to first for the double play.
Warren impressed in the bottom half, getting Bevilacqua, the Rams shortstop to ground out sharply to third, inducing a fly to relatively deep left off the bat of senior first baseman Will Barlock and catching Goldberg, the centerfielder, looking at strike three.
Scarborough threatened again in the top of the second, as senior third baseman Nick Suchecki led off with a walk, but he was picked off by Marzilli, as the pitcher recorded the putout. That proved huge when senior second baseman Cam Brochu followed with a single to right. Junior leftfielder Nate Wessel grounded into a force out and sophomore rightfielder Jack Hughes fanned to end the frame.
Warren brought the heat in the bottom half, striking out Viola swinging, senior third baseman Mike Marzilli looking and after sophomore catcher Luciano Minervino reached on a bad hop double, Warren got Dan Marzilli to strike out swinging.
Marzilli remained strong on the mound in the top of the third, catching Warren and senior centerfielder Matt Hartl looking at strike three before getting Lorello to ground out meekly to second.
In the bottom half, Warren said anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better by getting sophomore rightfielder Ian Westphal to fly out to center, senior first baseman Ben Peterson to line deep to right, then fanning Bevilacqua.
Marzilli struck out Carreiro to start the fourth, but Greenberg reached on a throwing error by Viola. The Fordham University-bound standout then showed his game is more than pitching and hitting by stealing second and after Suchecki struck out, stealing third, but Brochu grounded out to Barlock unassisted and the game remained 0-0.
Not for long.
Warren who was so strong the first three innings, wavered in the bottom of the fourth.
Warren walked Barlock leading off and Goldberg followed by lacing a double to left-center. Hartl stumbled fielding the ball and Barlock, who probably would have scored anyway, came all the way around with the game's first run.
Viola was next and he crushed an offering to almost the same spot for another double and Goldberg cruised home with the second run.
"It was the second time through seeing the kid," Eisenhart said. "They realized they needed to attack the ball. They looked fastball and reacted to the curve. I thought they did a good job adjusting and went with it. 'Buck' had a big hit and so did 'Goldy.'"
Mike Marzilli then hit a slow ground ball up the third base line. Warren fielded it and threw to Suchecki as it appeared Viola was stuck in no-man's land, but after Suchecki ran Viola back toward second, his throw hit the runner and bounced away, allowing Viola to move to third as Marzilli stayed at first. Marzilli was picked off, but just when it appeared Warren would escape the inning with no further damage, he threw a wild pitch and Viola scampered home. Warren caught both Minervino and Dan Marzilli looking at strike three, but the damage was done and Deering had a 3-0 lead.
Marzilli pitched even better with a lead.
He did surrender a leadoff single through the hole to Wessel in the top of the fifth and Wessel went to second when Barlock dropped a pickoff throw, but Marzilli got Hughes on a slow roller back to the mound, caught Warren looking at strike three, then induced Hartl to bounce back sharply to mound and threw him out to escape.
The Rams tacked on a pivotal run in the bottom of the frame.
With Carreiro on to replace Warren, Westphal drew a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner, junior Brendan McNally. Peterson struck out looking, but Bevilacqua beat out an infield hit and a slow ground out to second off the bat of Barlock moved the runners up to second and third. After Goldberg walked to load the bases, Viola was nicked by a pitch and in came McNally to make it 4-0.
"I don't mind taking one for the team," said Viola. "Anything that scores a run."
Carreiro avoided further damage by striking out Mike Marzilli.
In the top of the sixth, the Red Storm got on the board, although they could have had more.
Lorello led off by grounding out to second, but Carreiro walked. He was then picked off for out number two.
"(Marzilli) did a good job keeping our baserunners questioning themselves," Scarborough coach Ryan Jones said. "I think that got into the hitters' heads too."
Greenberg drew a full-count walk and stole second and Suchecki lined a single to right to score the run, but when Brochu grounded out to short, Scarborough, which pulled within 4-1, could only lament what-if.
Deering went quietly in the bottom of the inning, against Red Storm senior reliever Alex Lacognata, as Minervino grounded out to first and after Dan Marzilli singled to center, Westphal grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
The Rams then held on for dear life.
Marzilli, seeking a complete game, got Wessel to line to right and Hughes to strike out to start the seventh, but he walked sophomore pinch-hitter Bayley Welsh, then saw Hartl rip a line drive the other way, down the rightfield line. By the time Westphal tracked it down, Hartl was standing on third with a triple and Welsh crossed home.
Out came Eisenhart and Marzilli's night was over.
Scarborough's, however, was not.
With Lorello at the plate, Barlock, who had come in to close, threw a wild pitch and in scampered Hartl to make the score 4-3.
With Carreiro, Greenberg and Suchecki due up, Lorello hoped to reach base to give his team hope.
He made solid contact and appeared to send a base hit up the middle, but it wasn't to be.
Ranging far to his left, Bevilacqua made the athletic play of his young career, diving and stretching to snare the ball, then, from his back, unleashing a strong throw to first. Peterson had to stretch toward rightfield to make the catch as Lorello crossed the bag and then, time stood still.
Had the umpire ruled the throw was late, it's likely there wouldn't have been much dispute.
Had he ruled that Peterson's foot came off the bag, that would likely have been accepted.
Instead, the call was out.
"I just had to do it for the team there with two outs," said Bevilacqua. "No doubt I had a play. I threw from my butt. I couldn't do much else. I didn't know what he wasn't going to call, but when the ump called out, it pumped me up."
"It was crazy," Viola said. "(Nick's) got a lot of range. He made an awesome play on it. It was terrific."
"Nick's such a good athlete," added Eisenhart. "I wasn't surprised when he got it in his glove. Petey made an athletic play at first play. We finally got a call to go our way."
As the Rams celebrated on one side of the field, Jones and his first base coach were ballistic on the other, pleading their case to no avail with the umpire, who ultimately ejected Jones to add insult to injury.
"It's tough," Jones said. "I saw it one way and the ump saw it another, but it didn't come down to that one play. We had lots of chances."
Deering 4 Scarborough 3.
"This is huge," said Viola. "We've started to put things together. We made solid contact."
"We're hurt right now," said Eisenhart. "We lost two seniors and our starting centerfielder. We started five sophomores tonight and they held on."
Marzilli earned his first varsity win after surrendering three earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight.
"I was feeling it," Marzilli said. "My curveball worked best. I got them to hit ground balls. That's all I really needed. I felt comfortable after they got me some runs. I was hoping to finish, but after that line drive, I knew I was done. The end was very agonizing. It felt like hours, but it felt really good when we got that final out. We've been struggling. I've been struggling. It feels really good to come out and win. It was simple things, like mechanics. I had it down better than my other games."
"Dan had struggled in the past, but tonight, he came out and shut them down," Bevilacqua said.
"I'm psyched for Dan to get his first varsity win," Eisenhart added. "He did great. He's struggled all year to find his control and he finally found it tonight. We tried to have him work outside and throw his curve in and mix them up as much as we can. He placed his pitches well. He got them to hit it off the end of the bat. He stretched the pitch count. I'm tentative with that, but he doesn't play another position so he can rest and we let him go a little bit longer."
Barlock threw a wild pitch and faced just one batter to earn his first save.
Offensively, Deering got runs from Barlock, Goldberg, McNally and Viola and two RBI from Viola and another from Goldberg. More than half of the Rams' hits went for extra bases, as Goldberg, Minervino and Viola all doubled.
Scarborough got RBI from Hartl and Suchecki, while Greenberg, Hartl and Welsh scored runs. Hartl had the team's lone extra base hit. Greenberg stole three bases.
Warren fell to 0-2 after giving up three earned runs on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch in four innings of work. He fanned seven.
"Sam was pitching really well the first three innings," Jones said. "I don't know what happened. He seemed to lose some steam."
Carreiro pitched one inning of relief, surrendering a hit, a run and two walks. He hit a batter and struck out two. Lacognata also threw an inning, surrendering a hit but nothing else.
"We've lost five games by seven runs now," Jones said. "I can live with that. We had a couple bad breaks. It is what is. I told the guys in the postgame that they didn't give up and that's what we want to see. It's tough."
The Red Storm could take some consolation in knowing they made an impression with the Rams.
"Scarborough's good and they're well coached," Eisenhart said. "They graduated a lot of guys and Ben kind of holds the line over there."
Scarborough (sixth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings as of press time) hopes to start a new winning streak when it welcomes Portland Saturday, Massabesic Tuesday and Sanford Thursday of next week. After playing at Westbrook and Thornton Academy, the Red Storm welcome Gorham, then finish at Noble and Marshwood.
"We have to come ready to play," Jones said. "Every at-bat counts, whether it's the third inning with nobody out or the seventh inning with two outs."
Deering (now 12th) seeks consecutive wins for the first time Saturday when it goes to Bonny Eagle. The Rams then play at Cheverus and Windham before hosting South Portland, Portland and Massabesic and closing the regular season at Westbrook.
"Hopefully we'll take this and make a run," said Bevilacqua.
"Last year, at the end of the year, we did really well and we were in close games," Marzilli said. "This year, it's coming together. (Tonight is) a lot of motivation going forward. We want to make playoffs. That's what we all expect."
"I still believe we can be a .500 team," added Eisenhart. "We're hitting the ball really hard, we're having quality at-bats and (junior ace Sam Luebbert's) on his game, so when he pitches, we're in every game. We want to go deep in the playoffs. If we can get in, we can surprise some people. SoPo and Cheverus are the big ones coming up. That's quite a challenge for us."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Previous Scarborough-Deering results
@ Scarborough 6 Deering 0
Scarborough 11 @ Deering 0
Deering 4 @ Scarborough 3
@ Deering 13 Scarborough 3 (5)
Deering 22 @ Scarborough 4 (5)
Western A Final
Deering 16 Scarborough 10
@ Deering 10 Scarborough 0 (6)
@ Deering 6 Scarborough 0
Scarborough 6 Deering 5 (8)
Western A quarterfinals
@ Deering 10 Scarborough (9)
@ Deering 8 Scarborough 3
Deering 17 @ Scarborough 3
Deering 9 @ Scarborough 2
@ Deering 10 Scarborough 0 (6)