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Postseason action fast and furious

Sports

Postseason action fast and furious

(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Deering baseball and Waynflete-Cheverus girls' lacrosse game stories, with additional photos and box scores, please visit theforecaster.net)

The regular season is behind us and the two-week dash to the championship finish line is underway.

While outdoor track got the jump crowning champions Saturday (please see story), baseball, softball, lacrosse and tennis are in the process of whittling down to the select few and to no one's surprise, local teams are heavily involved in the process.

Here's a look at what's occurred and what's to come with the finish line very much in sight.

Tennis

Waynflete's Patrick Ordway's quest for a second boys' individual state tennis title in three seasons was dashed by Falmouth's Brendan McCarthy in the semifinals Wedneday at the Racket and Fitness Center in Portland. Ordway, the No. 3 seed lost to McCarthy, ranked second, 2-6, 4-6. McCarthy went on to lose to Lincoln Academy's Jordan Friedland in the final.

The Portland girls' team was still entertaining title dreams at press time. The Bulldogs, seeded first in Western Class A after a 12-0 regular season, handled No. 8 McAuley in the quarterfinals, 4-1 (the Lions had squeaked out a 3-2 preliminary round win over No. 9 Biddeford), then ousted fourth-ranked Cheverus in the semifinals, 4-1 (the Stags had advanced with a 3-2 quarterfinal round win over Gorham), ending its season at 11-3.

Wednesday afternoon at Bates College, Portland (14-0) met No. 2 Scarborough (13-1) in the regional finals. The teams met on May 6 at Deering Oaks, where the Bulldogs prevailed, 3-2. Portland beat the Red Storm in the 2004 preliminary round and the 2010 semifinals and lost to Scarborough in the 2011 quarterfinals. If Portland is able to advance to the state match for the second time (2009 was the other), it will meet either defending champion Brunswick (14-0) or Mt. Blue (11-3) Saturday at 4 p.m., at the University of Maine in Orono.

Deering's season ended at 6-8. The 11th-seeded Rams upset No. 6 Kennebunk in the preliminary round, 3-2, then lost to No. 3 Windham, 4-1.

In Western C, two-time defending state champion Waynflete was on target for a three-peat at press time. The Flyers, seeded sixth after a 7-5 regular season, handled No. 3 Dirigo and seventh-ranked Carrabec by 5-0 scores to advance to a regional final showdown with longtime rival North Yarmouth Academy (9-5), the No. 9 seed, Wednesday. The teams split in the regular season, each prevailing, 3-2. The teams had played 10 previous times since 1998 in the postseason, with the Panthers holding a 7-3 advantage. If Waynflete won that match, it will seek a sixth title in program history Saturday at 9 a.m. at UMO, versus either Mattanawcook (13-1) or Van Buren (10-2).

The Waynflete boys have won five Class C titles in a row and a sixth is a distinct possibility. After going 9-3 to earn the No.4  seed, the Flyers blanked No. 5 Monmouth and top-ranked St. Dom's by 5-0 scores to earn a date with No. 6 NYA (10-4) in Wednesday's regional final. Waynflete won both regular season matches by 5-0 scores. The Flyers had won five of the previous six playoff meetings, including last year in the semifinals. If Waynflete advanced to the state final Saturday morning at 9 at UMO, it will meet either Madawaska (11-3) or George Stevens Academy (12-2).

In Western A, Portland was the No. 4 seed, but lost, 4-1, to fifth-ranked Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals to finish its surprisingly strong season at 9-4. No. 6 Deering lost, 5-0, to third-ranked Kennebunk in the quarterfinals and wound up 7-6. No. 9 Cheverus fell at eighth-ranked Scarborough, 4-1, in the preliminary round to finish 6-7.

Baseball

Three of four city baseball teams made the playoffs.

Leading the way is Cheverus, which went 10-6 to earn the No. 5 seed in Western Class A. The Stags extended their win streak to six last Tuesday with a 7-2 win at Gorham (Ryan Casale tripled, singled, scored twice and drove in two runs and Nate Smith earned the victory), then closed with a 9-6 loss at South Portland (Jensen LaPoint drove in two runs and Chris Tinsman had a pair of hits). Cheverus will play at No. 4 Westbrook (13-3) in the quarterfinals Thursday. On May 7, the Stags lost at home to the Blue Blazes, 9-2. The teams met last year in the same round (a 2-0 Cheverus victory). The Stags also beat Westbrook, 2-0, in the 2011 Western A Final. The teams have split four previous playoff meetings.

Portland wound up 8-8 and eighth in Western A after a 5-4 walkoff home win over Deering, a 3-0 loss at Windham and a 3-2 home win over Biddeford last week. Against the Rams, Caleb Fraser earned the victory, while Joey Apon singled in Mike Scala in the bottom of the seventh to end it.

"They disrespected me (by walking Rovnak)," Apon said. "(The pitcher) threw me first pitch fastballs down the middle. I just had to jump one. I found one. It felt good. Portland-Deering is the best rivalry in Maine sports."

"Any 'W' is good right now," Scala said. "It was an easy hit to read by Apon. I took advantage of the opportunity and got around. We started out rough, then it clicked and we got into it and made plays and hit the ball."

"We've had a lot of tough losses," Portland coach Tony DiBiase added. "This game, no matter the records, will always be a tough game. I was happy the kids battled back. I give Deering a lot of credit. They've had a tough season, but they played well. They've gotten a lot better."

Evan Gallant had two hits in the loss. In the win over the Tigers, Nate Smart earned the win, while Dan Kane had the winning RBI.

After a three-year playoff drought, the Bulldogs hosted No. 9 South Portland (6-10) in the preliminary round Tuesday (please see theforecaster.net for game story). Portland lost at home to the Red Riots, 10-3, May 15. The teams had met nine previous times, with the Bulldogs taking seven, the most recent a 6-5, eight inning win in the 2005 quarterfinals.

"We could be a tough out in the playoffs," DiBiase said. "No question about it."

If Portland was able to advance, it would face the daunting task of going to top-ranked, defending regional champion Scarborough (14-2) in the quarterfinals Thursday. The Red Storm beat the host Bulldogs, 9-2, May 16. The only prior playoff meeting between the teams came in the 2008 preliminary round, when Portland prevailed, 5-4, in nine innings.

Deering fell short of the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Rams wound up 16th in Western A (only 11 teams made the postseason) with a 2-14 record, but were very dangerous at the end of the year. Dominic Esposito-Martin had three hits, drove in two runs and was the hard-luck loser on the mound in a 5-4 loss at Portland last Monday.

"We never gave up," said Deering coach Tim Eisenhart. "We got outhit by a good hitting team. I thought Espo did a great job keeping us in the game. He battled. The rest of the guys played their roles, laid down bunts, played errorless baseball. Games like this, you have to play perfect."

The Rams fell 2-1 at playoff-bound Westbrook last Tuesday (failing to hold a lead entering the final inning as Sam Luebbert took a tough loss and Nick Bevilacqua had two hits), then finished with a 5-1 home loss to Kennebunk Thursday.

"I just told the kids, if you look back at our first game against Massabesic and look at today, we look like a totally different team," Eisenhart said.

In Western C, Waynflete closed with a 7-6 home win over Traip last Thursday to finish 8-6 and ninth in the standings. Nik Morrill had two hits and two RBI and Matt Jarrell also had two hits in the finale. The Flyers visited No. 8 Old Orchard Beach (6-10) in a prelim Tuesday. Waynflete went 2-1 against the Seagulls in 2013, losing, 12-3, on the road to start the year, then winning, 10-3, at home and 6-1 away. Old Orchard Beach ended the Flyers' season last year, 10-3, in the preliminary round. The teams also met in the 2010 preliminary round, with the host Seagulls winning, 5-2. If Waynflete advanced, it would go to No. 1 Dirigo (14-2) for the quarterfinals Thursday. The teams don't play in the regular season. Two years ago, the Cougars beat the Flyers in the semifinals, 15-1, in five innings.

Looking ahead, the semifinal round will be played Saturday on the field of the higher remaining seeds. The regional finals are Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and the state games are Saturday, June 15.

Boys' lacrosse

All four local boys' lacrosse teams, somewhat surprisingly, made the playoff cut.

The surprise came (pleasantly) from a traditionally strong Portland team, which started the season 0-7, but came on late to finish 3-9 and earn the seventh and final postseason spot in Eastern Class A. The Bulldogs extended their playoff streak to 13 straight years and play at No. 2 Cheverus (10-2) in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

The Stags closed with a 9-8 home win over Marshwood in their finale Thursday, getting five goals from Jack Sutton, including the winner late.

Cheverus beat Portland in the regular season meeting, 17-4, at home May 15. The teams have met five previous times in the playoffs with the Stags winning four of them, including the most recent encounter, a 7-6 overtime triumph in the 2008 quarterfinals.

Deering wound up 6-6 and sixth after a 15-1 setback at Kennebunk in its finale Thursday. The Rams play at No. 3 Mt. Ararat (9-3) in the Eastern A quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams don't play in the regular season and have no playoff history.

In Western B, Waynflete closed strong with a 15-7 home win over Freeport (Henry Cleaves scored seven times). The Flyers, (6-6 and fourth in the region), host No. 5 Wells (9-3) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The teams didn't play this spring and had no playoff history.

Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday and regional finals Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Girls' lacrosse

Three of five girls' lacrosse squads from the city are playoff-bound, with a defending champion leading the list.

Waynfete capped its fifth ever unbeaten season, joining the 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2009 squads, with wins at Cheverus (11-5) and Greely (10-6, in the completion of a game which began May 9) to go 12-0. Against the Stags, the Flyers got seven goals from scoring machine Sadie Cole and nine clutch saves from goalie Katherine Torrey.

"This was one of our biggest games of the season," Cole said. "Cheverus is a really good team. I have a lot of respect for them not giving up."

"I was seeing the ball well," Torrey said. "Once I save one and get into a swing, I'm out of my head and can focus on the game. I like to be tested. That's when I get more focused and energized."

"This was huge for us," added Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. "We wanted to see if we could play against their zone. We practice against ours, but it's not the same. We played well. They fought through. I am super proud of the girls. They worked so hard and came together. Being undefeated is not something we ever talk about, but it is certainly nice when it happens."

Waynflete held a 3-1 lead for 20 days before picking up play against the Rangers, who scored a quick goal before the Flyers closed the first half on a 4-0 run, led by Martha Veroneau. Greely got back within 7-5 in the second half, but Veroneau, Isabel Agnew and Cole scored to put it away. Veroneau led the way with five goals and Cole added three, giving her 51 for the season.

The Flyers earned the top seed in Western B and with it, a bye into Saturday's semifinals, where they will host either No. 4 York (9-3) or No. 5 Falmouth (7-5). Waynflete didn't play the Wildcats this year and the teams have no postseason history. The Flyers swept the Yachtsmen in 2013, winning, 10-8, at Falmouth May 3 and 16-3 at home May 21. Waynflete eliminated Falmouth in all three prior playoff meetings, including last year's epic 10-9 decision in the semifinals.

"We've played a lot of great teams this season," Torrey said. "We don't expect to win easily. It hasn't been an easy season. We put everything into each game. The seniors know this is our last season. That gives us extra momentum for every game. We'll be ready for playoffs. It will be bittersweet, but I'm excited."

"We are looking forward to playoffs," Connors said. "Waiting over a week to play can be difficult, but we have a plan to keep things going and stay psyched. We will focus on one game at a time. Anything can happen."

In Eastern A, Cheverus matched a program best with nine wins, even though it fell, 11-5, to visiting Waynflete in the finale. Alex Logan had two goals, but the Stags couldn't dig out of an early hole.

"The first half, we were a step behind, on attack and defense," said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. "Being behind against Waynflete isn't a good position. We had points of the game where we were getting into a rhythm and other times when we didn't. I'm pleased with the season. We had a lot of positives. We just have to put it together for 50 minutes."

The Stags' 9-3 mark gave it the No. 2 seed behind Messalonskee in the Heals. Cheverus plays host to No. 7 Mt. Ararat (6-6) Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The teams don't meet in the regular season. The Stags lost to the Eagles, 12-9, in the 2010 semifinals, in the lone prior postseason meeting.

"I think the girls are ready," Chamberlain said. "They see it's there for the taking. They have motivation to come out and play better. We know (our opponent will) be dangerous no matter their seeding. They have nothing to lose. We have to match that intensity."

Portland made it six straight playoff trips after a 7-5 regular season, which culminated with losses at South Portland (10-6) and at home to Gorham (17-11). Ella Coose had three goals against the Red Riots. The Bulldogs earned the No. 5 seed in Eastern A and go to No. 4 Cony (9-3) for the quarterfinals. The teams didn't play this year and had no playoff history.

Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday and regional finals Wednesday, with games to be played on the field of the highest remaining seeds. The state games are Saturday, June 15, at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Deering wound up 3-9 and 10th in the region (only eight teams made the playoffs) after a 12-1 loss at Marshwood.

McAuley finished 3-9 (and 12th) after a 19-14 win at Noble. Katherine Lake capped her transcendent season with 10 goals, giving her a program-record 61 for the season).

Softball

For the second year in a row, all four city varsity softball teams failed to post a winning record and each missed the playoffs.

Cheverus finished 6-10 following a 3-0 home loss to Sanford in its finale. Katie Randall did have two hits and Brittany Bell only allowed two earned runs in seven innings while striking out 13, but it wasn't enough as the Stags finished 14th in the Western Class A Heals (only 11 teams made the playoffs).

McAuley finished 15th at 2-14.

Portland came in 16th at 2-14 after dropping two games last Monday, 11-1, to visiting regional champion South Portland, and 4-3, in 10 innings, at Gorham. Gianna Gaudet had two hits versus the Rams.

Deering's 0-16 mark left it 17th. The Rams closed with a 16-4, five inning, loss at Kennebunk. Freshman Siobhan Densmore had two hits.

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