No upset this year…SP blanks Biddeford in quarterfinals

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South Portland senior catcher Caden Horton congratulates junior pitcher Noah Lewis at the conclusion of the Red Riots’ 3-0 win over Biddeford in Thursday’s Class A South quarterfinal. South Portland will face Marshwood in the semifinals Saturday.

BOX SCORE

South Portland 3 Biddeford 0

B- 000 000 0- 0 3 1
SP- 021 000 x- 3 6 1

Bottom 1st
Bialorucki reached on infield single, Horton scored. Lappin stole home.

Bottom 3rd
Small singled to right, Lewis scored.

Multiple hits:
B- Rousselle

Runs:
SP- Horton, Lappin, Lewis

RBI:
SP- Bialorucki, Small

Double:
SP- Lewis

Stolen bases:
SP- Bialorucki, Lappin

Left on base:
B- 6
SP- 4

Wildes and Crowell; Lewis and Horton.

B:
Wildes (L, 2-5) 6 IP 6 H 3 R 1 ER 0 BB 3 K

SP:
Lewis (W, 6-0) 7 IP 3 H 0 R 1 BB 9 K 2 HBP

Time: 1:38

SOUTH PORTLAND—Lesson learned.

Last spring, South Portland’s baseball team entered the playoffs riding high, as the top seed, and seven innings later, had its season end in heartbreak with an upset loss to Falmouth in the Class A South quarterfinals.

Thursday afternoon at Wainwright Farms, the Red Riots again took the diamond as the top seed in the region and welcomed an upset-minded squad in ninth-ranked Biddeford, but this time around, there would be no unhappy ending.

Thanks in large part to the talented right arm of South Portland junior pitcher Noah Lewis.

The Red Riots gave Lewis the only runs he would need in the bottom of the second inning, when junior second baseman Gerik Bialorucki drove in a run with an infield single, then junior third baseman Gus Lappin stole home.

Lewis then helped extend the lead in the bottom of the third, doubling with two outs, then scoring when junior first baseman Tyler Small singled.

Lewis then did the rest with his arm, holding the Tigers to a mere three hits and never letting a runner cross the plate as South Portland went on to a 3-0 victory. 

The Red Riots improved to 16-1 on the year, ended Biddeford’s season at 9-9 and advanced to host No. 4 Marshwood (12-5) in the Class A South semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Obviously, a win in the playoffs is always a relief,” said South Portland coach Mike Owens. “We’ve struggled at the plate. We had to find ways to score and we did.” 

Determination

In a year without much separation in Class A South, South Portland stood alone, winning 15 of 16 regular season games.

The Red Riots opened with shutout wins at Windham (8-0) and Sanford (10-0). After a 6-3 victory at Noble, South Portland blanked visiting Massabesic (10-0, in five-innings), to give Owens his 100th win with the program, then shut out visiting Falmouth in a playoff rematch (2-0), prevailed at Gorham (9-4), at home over Thornton Academy (11-1, in six-innings) and Portland (6-5, in an 11-inning marathon), at Kennebunk (7-1), at home over Bonny Eagle (9-0), at Deering in eight-innings (2-1) and at Scarborough (2-1). The Red Riots finally fell from the unbeaten ranks, losing, 2-1, at home to Marshwood, then closed with wins over visiting Cheverus (4-0), at home over Westbrook (10-0, in five-innings) and at Biddeford (3-0), behind a Lewis shutout.

South Portland earned the top seed in the region for the second year in a row and earned a bye into the quarterfinals.

Biddeford started with a 1-0 home loss to Gorham, then knocked off host Sanford (13-6), visiting Noble (10-7) and host Marshwood (5-3). The Tigers then lost at home to Falmouth (8-0), at Bonny Eagle (4-3) and at home to Windham (6-2). After downing host Westbrook, 10-5, Biddeford lost at home to Cheverus (2-1) and was blanked at Scarborough (2-0). Shutout wins over visiting Massabesic (5-0) and host Kennebunk (6-0), a 7-2 home victory over Deering and a 12-7 win at Portland followed. After falling at Thornton Academy, 8-5, the Tigers closed with a 3-0 home loss to South Portland.

As the No. 9 seed in the region, Biddeford had to go to eighth-ranked Kennebunk for Tuesday’s preliminary round, but prevailed, 5-1, to advance.

In the regular season meeting, Lewis only allowed two hits, while junior Anthony Poole had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run.

Thursday, on a long-overdue 72 degree afternoon, Lewis was the difference again and the Red Riots managed to advance.

Lewis made quick work of the Tigers in the top of the first, getting senior shortstop Carter Edgerton to pop out to second before striking out junior designated hitter Kurtis Edgerton and senior leftfielder Hunter Demeule.

Biddeford junior pitcher Brady Wildes was sharp as well in the bottom half, shaking off a leadoff single by junior centerfielder Anthony Perron, getting Poole, the shortstop, to bounce into a force out, inducing Lewis to do the same, then getting Small to ground out to third to retire the side.

Junior third baseman Matt Rousselle led off the top of the second with an infield single, but Lewis fanned sophomore catcher Austin Crowell, blew strike three past sophomore second baseman Will Harriman, then induced senior first baseman Carter Burnell to ground into a short-to-second force out.

South Portland then produced a pair of runs in the bottom half, taking advantage of an error and some baserunning derring-do.

Junior rightfielder Hunter Owen led off by grounding out to second, but senior catcher Caden Horton reached on an error by Harriman and went to second on the play. When junior third baseman Gus Lappin reached on an infield hit, runners were at the corners, but Wildes caught junior leftfielder Dillon Ray-Bolduc to look at strike three. Wildes couldn’t escape the jam, however, as Bialorucki reached on an infield hit, scoring Horton and again, putting runners at the corners. With Perron at the plate, Bialorucki was picked off first, but he stayed alive long enough to allow Lappin to race home with a second run and even though the inning came to an end, the Red Riots gave Lewis a lead.

“Those runs were great,” said Lewis. “I thought I had good stuff, so once I got those runs, I was ecstatic. I just had to keep pounding (the strike zone).”

“If we could get a lead, I thought we could put pressure on them,” Owens said.

Lewis protected the lead in the top of the third, getting junior centerfielder Delano Hale to fly out to right and after hitting senior rightfielder Seth Perry with a pitch, Lewis picked him off, then got Carter Edgerton to line to second for the third out.

South Portland then added another run in the bottom half with some two-out thunder.

Wildes got Perron to line out to center, then caught Poole looking at strike three, but Lewis crushed a double over the head of Hale in center and Small followed with a bloop single to right for a 3-0 advantage.

Owen watched strike three, but Lewis had a three-run lead.

Biddeford had a chance to rally in the top of the fourth and got the tying run to the plate, but couldn’t produce.

Kurtis Edgerton led off with a slow roller to Lappin at third, which was mishandled for an error. Demeule grounded into a short-to-second force out and Rousselle struck out, but Crowell kept the inning alive by walking on a 3-2 pitch. That brought up Harriman, who swung and missed at strike three to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Horton led off with a single past Harriman at second, but after Lappin grounded out to third, Horton was thrown out trying to steal third and while Ray-Bolduc was hit by a pitch, Wildes got Bialorucki to ground out to third to send the game to the fifth inning.

There, Lewis remained strong.

Lewis got Burnell to ground to short, then induced a fly out to right off the bat of Hale. After hitting Perry with a pitch, Lewis retired Carter Edgerton on a slow roller to third, where Lappin pounced on the ball and threw out the runner in a bang-bang play.

Wildes set the Red Riots down in order in the bottom half, getting Perron to pop out to second, Poole to line deep to right and Lewis to line deep to left.

Biddeford’s final chance at a rally came in the top of the sixth.

Kurtis Edgerton led off with a grounder to Lappin’s left and Lappin slid to collect the ball, then threw out the runner. Demeule then grounded out to second, but Rousselle singled to center and Crowell did the same. Tigers coach Keith LeBlanc then sent up junior Nick Lyons to pinch-hit, but Lewis struck him out to maintain the lead.

In the bottom half, South Portland went quietly, as Small flew out to center on the first pitch, Owen flew out to right and Horton bounced out to first.

Lewis then made quick work of Biddeford in the seventh to wrap it up.

Lewis fanned Burnell and Hale, then ended the game by getting Perry to pop out to short and the Red Riots celebrated their 3-0 victory.

“It’s great to come out here and get a playoff win,” said Lewis.

Lewis allowed just six base runners all game, giving up three hits, hitting two batters and walking another in his seven shutout innings.

Lewis fanned nine.

“Noah, as usual, was excellent,” Owens said. “He always gives us a chance to win. I thought Noah did a good job with his breaking ball. His confidence to throw any pitch at any point keeps them off-balance. He’s a competitor. He lost it a little bit in the sixth inning, but he had his best inning in the seventh. He wants the ball in big moments.”

Offensively, Horton, Lappin and Lewis scored the runs, while Bialorucki and Small had RBI.

Bialorucki and Lappin stole bases.

South Portland stranded four runners.

For Biddeford, Wildes was the hard-luck loser, surrendering just three runs (only one earned) in six innings. He gave up six hits and didn’t walk a batter. He struck out three.

Rousselle had two hits and the Tigers stranded six.

“(Lewis) was good again today,” said LeBlanc. “He threw more sliders this time. He had command of the strike zone and he worked fast. He pounded the zone. We said prior to the game, we had to play a flawless game on the bases and in the field. We didn’t quite get there. We couldn’t get the barrel on the ball and when we did, they made nice plays defensively. That’s what good teams do.

“I’m pleased with our season. I only had four returning guys and no one on the pitching staff returned. I’m proud how we played all season long. I’m looking forward to next year and seeing what we can do.”

Nemesis

South Portland has had its way with everyone in the league this year, other than Marshwood, which beat the host Red Riots by a run on May 21, then, in the non-countable SMAA Championship tournament last week at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, downed South Portland again, 1-0.

The Red Riots will start Owen and will be at home, but they know that nothing will come easily.

“We have to have a good approach at the plate and believe in ourselves and keep it rolling,” Lewis said. “Hunter will go out and throw strikes all day and we’ll make plays behind him.”

“Hopefully we can build on this,” Owens said. “Marshwood is a really good team. They’re one of the better defensive teams. They’re well coached and they play small-ball. We’ll have to prepare for that. We’ll have Hunter on the mound and hopefully, we’ll get his best stuff. Hopefully, the third time’s a charm.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

South Portland junior pitcher Noah Lewis delivers to Biddeford junior Delano Voccia-Hale in the seventh inning. Lewis would strike him out for the second out.

Previous South Portland-Biddeford playoff results

2015 Western A quarterfinal
South Portland 4 Biddeford 3 (8)

2012 Western A prelim
Biddeford 9 South Portland 2

2007 Western A prelim
South Portland 5 Biddeford 1

2000 Western A quarterfinal
Biddeford 3 South Portland 1

1997 Western A quarterfinal
South Portland 3 Biddeford 1

1994 Western A quarterfinal
Biddeford 9 South Portland 8

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