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Playoff thrills continue; state games next

Sports

Playoff thrills continue; state games next

(For the complete Scarborough-Marshwood softball, Scarborough-Marshwood and South Portland-Kennebunk boys' lacrosse and Scarborough-Kennebunk girls' lacrosse game stories, with additional photos and box scores, please visit theforecaster.net)

The baseball and lacrosse playoffs produced their share of surprise and excitement last week and with the state championships scheduled for Saturday, this week was primed to be memorable as well.

Meanwhile, local track and field athletes turned heads at the New England championships.

Here's a look at what happened last week and what's to come.

Baseball

Scarborough's baseball team entered the Western A tournament as the top seed and the favorite, but the Red Storm's playoff run came to a sudden end last Thursday when it was stunned in the quarterfinals by No. 8 Portland, 5-4. Junior ace and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Ben Greenberg hit a home run to pull Scarborough within a run, but it could never draw even and its fine season ended at 14-3.

"We had a great year," said Red Storm first-year coach Ryan Jones. "I personally could not have asked for a better first year. I was very proud of my guys, although it ended prematurely. Portland played well defensively, (pitcher Caleb) Fraser competed on the mound and they put the ball in play offensively. They were the better team that day.
 
"We got off to a hot start this year, 12-0, then cooled off offensively. That seemed to be our Achilles' heel down the stretch. Pitching and defense were there for us all year."

With Greenberg the lone non-senior to see major playing time this year, the Red Storm will have a very different look in 2014, but Scarborough should still be among the top contenders.

"Next year, we return one varsity player, Ben Greenberg," Jones said. "Not a bad guy to return! We will rely heavily on him both offensively and defensively. We had some JV guys have great seasons on the mound and at the plate, so that was encouraging to see."

Softball

Scarborough's softball team was the last one standing at press time.

The Red Storm, ranked second in Western A, survived a mighty quarterfinal round scare last Thursday. Scarborough pitcher Alyssa Williamson surrendered a fluky second inning run and the Hawks held a 1-0 lead into the sixth, but Marisa O'Toole started a rally with a bunt, Williamson tied the game with a sacrifice fly and Brenna Kent broke the deadlock with a two-run double as the Red Storm went on to a 5-1 victory.

"It was a really nerve-wracking situation, I'm not going to lie," Kent said. "It was nice to see (the hit) fall in. It felt really good. I couldn't help but celebrate when I was at second. We were worried, but it was unspoken. We work on staying calm. We know we can do it. We finally figured it out."

"We kept our heads up," said Williamson, who also earned the win after allowing just one run on four hits. "We know our bats have saved us before and they did today. We knew it would be tough."

"We just needed a leadoff runner to get on and we finally got it," added longtime Red Storm coach Tom Griffin. "We can put the ball in play in different ways. We felt confident with the top of the order coming up for a third time. We had a lot of experience coming to the plate."

Scarborough had little trouble with No. 4 Thornton Academy in Saturday's semifinals, as Williamson put on a dazzling show, earning the win, homering twice and driving in six runs to pace the Red Storm to a 10-1 triumph.

Scarborough met No. 3 Sanford (13-5) in Wednesday's regional final at St. Joseph's College in Standish. The Spartans handed the Red Storm its lone loss in the regular season, 3-2, in eight innings, May 6 in Scarborough. The teams had no playoff history.

If the Red Storm prevailed, it will face Bangor (12-6) or Skowhegan (13-5) in the state game Saturday at high noon in Augusta.

South Portland, ranked second in Western A, fully expected to be in the opposing dugout for the regional final, but after a 10-3 home win over No. 7 Biddeford in the quarterfinals (Danica Gleason had four hits and drove in three runs), the Red Riots were beaten for the second time this spring by Sanford, 5-1, in Saturday's semis. South Portland was down 2-0 after an inning and 5-0 by the third and despite a pair of hits from Erin Bogdanovich, couldn't answer, as its season ended at 15-3.

Equally heartbroken was Cape Elizabeth in Western B. After a 15-1 regular season, which gave the Capers the No. 2 seed, Cape Elizabeth struggled to survive No. 10 Poland, 4-2, in the quarterfinals. Katie Rabasca, the winning pitcher, drove in the tying run in the fifth inning and Ellen Best hit a two-run single for the winning margin. Saturday, however, the Capers couldn't answer against the sixth-ranked Gray-New Gloucester Patriots in the semifinals. The Patriots scored single runs in the second and third. Cape Elizabeth got one back in the sixth on Hannah Saturley's RBI single. The Capers then got two runners on in the seventh, but couldn't score and they lost, 2-1, as their season ended at 16-2.

Boys' lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth's boys' lacrosse team was one win from the state game at press game, while Scarborough found itself two victories shy of another Class A championship.

The Capers, ranked first in Western B, had no trouble with No. 4 Waynflete in their semifinal Saturday. Cape Elizabeth shot to a 7-2 lead after one quarter and stretched it to 13-3 at halftime before cruising to a 17-4 win behind five goals from Alex Bornick, four from Justin Cary and three apiece from Griffin Thoreck and Cam Wilson.

Wednesday, for the fifth year in a row, the Western B title came down to a showdown between the Capers (the host team this time) and two-time defending state champion Falmouth (see theforecaster.net for game story), ranked second. The teams split the previous four playoff battles. Cape Elizabeth won both regular season meetings, 11-10, in overtime, at the Yachtsmen (on Thoreck's winner) and 9-6 at home. The Capers rallied to prevail both times.

If Cape Elizabeth gets to its first Class B state game since 2010, it will meet either Gardiner (14-0) or Yarmouth (11-3) Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The Capers don't play the Tigers. They swept the Clippers this spring (7-5 at home, 13-7 away) and beat Yarmouth in their most recent state game encounter (7-6, three years ago).

In Western A, the Red Storm, ranked first, opened another playoff run Saturday with a home semifinal against No. 5 Marshwood. Scarborough started slowly, leading just 2-0 after one quarter, but turned it on and went up 7-1 at halftime, 12-2 after three and rolled, 14-2, behind three goals from Nate Howard and two goals and five assists from John Wheeler.

"(Our continued success) speaks to the hard work the kids do to remain competitive and play at a level that gives them an opportunity to win," Red Storm coach Joe Hezlep said.

Scarborough advanced to host No. 3 Kennebunk (11-3) in Wednesday's Western A Final. The Red Storm edged the visiting Rams, 5-4, May 15. Scarborough won two of the prior three playoff meetings, including a 6-3 regional final triumph last spring.

"Kennebunk has a terrific goalie, poles who can make plays, an attack that scores a lot of points and their midfielders do a good job getting up and down the field," Hezlep said. "Their defense has the ability to make you make bad passes. We need to play our game and work to get solid shots. We just need to do what we do at a high level."

If victorious, Scarborough will face either Brunswick (12-1) or Cheverus (12-2)  in the Class A state final Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

South Portland's dreams of a first ever trip to the regional final were dashed by Kennebunk Saturday night. The Red Riots led the Rams, 7-3, in the third period, but Kennebunk dominated the faceoff circle in the second half and rallied to win, 11-9, despite three goals from Duncan Preston.

"(The guys') hearts are truly broken," said South Portland coach Tom Fiorini. "This team brought this program to a place where it's respected, where they're respected and where we're considered one of the top teams and we belong there. If we won the game, I would've been screaming at them for the silly things they did. Losing the game, I told them they played their hearts out for each other and the played their hearts out for me.

"To be honest, I really thought we'd have one more game. I thought that at the beginning of the season. I was counting on going in as the No. 1 seed and having a little easier ride. I still say the champion's coming out of the West. If Scarborough, Kennebunk and South Portland played 10 different times, there would be 10 different winners."

Closing on the bright side, the Red Riots could be even better in 2014.

"The good news is that we only lose four," Fiorini said. "We already have our theme for next year, 'Unfinished Business.' March 24th (the first day of practice) cannot get here fast enough."

Girls' lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth's girls' lacrosse team got another crack at defending champion Waynflete Thursday (postponed 24 hours by weather) in the Western Class B Final (see theforecaster.net for all the details).

The Capers, ranked second, made an impressive statement with a 17-10 home win over No. 3 Greely in the semifinals Saturday. Cape Elizabeth shot to an 11-4 lead at halftime and never looked back, as Lauren Steidl scored six times. Talley Perkins added three goals.

The Capers entered the regional final having lost 21 straight to Waynflete, including twice this spring, 10-8 at home and 8-4 away. The Flyers beat Cape Elizabeth in each of the past two regional finals, including a triple overtime epic a year ago.

If the Capers were finally able to turn the tide, they will face Yarmouth (6-7) or Morse (9-5) in Saturday's Class B state final, which starts at 5:30 p.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Scarborough was counting on a run to a fourth successive Class A crown, but it wasn't to be.

The Red Storm, ranked first in the region, started slowly in its quarterfinal last Wednesday against No. 8 Bonny Eagle before pulling away for a 14-4 win, as Kaitlin Prince scored four times and Bailey Adams and Maiti Kent each had three.

Saturday, Scarborough hosted No. 4 Kennebunk in the semifinals. The Red Storm had beaten the Rams seven straight times, including each of the past three years in the playoffs, but this time, Kennebunk got the jump and held on.

The Rams led 3-0 and 5-2 in the first half and although Scarborough drew within a goal on four different occasions, the Rams managed to dominate possession time and held on, 9-7. Avery Pietras led the Red Storm with three goals.

"I don't feel like we lost, I feel like we just ran out of time," said Scarborough coach Marcia Wood. "They ran that stall and we never know what to do. We tried so hard. We tried to double. (Kennebunk's) passing and catching were flawless today. We did what we could. At points, they were better than we were, but I'm proud of (my girls). Who thought we'd be sitting No. 1 at all? It's been a roller-coaster ride. We're still at the top. We always want to be toward the top."

Scarborough loses several key seniors, but will be a force again in 2014.

"My underclassmen are upset today too," Wood said. "We have a lot of girls who worked hard and played well. We'll be ready next year."

South Portland went into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and bowed out quickly with a 14-5 loss at No. 2 Massabesic last Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Bri Maloney had two goals as the Red Riots finished 7-6.

Track

Several athletes from Scarborough and South Portland took part in the New England outdoor track and field championships in New Britain, Conn., Saturday.

Scarborough's Robert Hall came in 13th in the mile (4 minutes, 25.75 seconds). Hugh McSorley placed 19th in the shot put (45 feet, 7.25 inches). Jerry Kenney was 21st in the 400 (52.40 seconds). Alex Karam placed 24th in the 800 (2:01.47). Colin Tardiff was 29th in the two-mile (10:33.96). South Portland's 3,200 relay team (John Salamone, Jacob Maloney, Jonathan Bagley and Maxwell Knutsen) placed 28th (8:45.41).

On the girls' side, South Portland's Shannon Conley finished 24th in the 800 (2:25.19). Conley, along with Casey Loring, Meaghan Doyle and Casey Kelley, came in 21st in the 3,200 relay (10:06.85).

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