Only a few teams survive wild playoff week-Southern edition

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South Portland senior Sam Troiano catches a fly ball during the Red Riots’ 14-4 loss at Portland in last week’s Class A South quarterfinal.

Scarborough’s softball team celebrates Hunter Greenleaf’s grand slam home run during its 5-0 win over Windham in Saturday’s Class A South semifinal. The Red Storm met Portland in the regional final Wednesday.

Cape Elizabeth’s Caroline Coburn, right, is congratulated by Emily Healy during the Capers’ 10-6 win over Waynflete in last week’s Class B South quarterfinal.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Greely and South Portland-Portland baseball and Cape Elizabeth-Waynflete girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

The postseason action came fast and furious last week and left in its wake only a handful of survivors.

With just days remaining in the spring sports season, here’s a look at who’s left and what’s to come:

Tennis

The Cape Elizabeth boys’ tennis juggernaut, the defending Class B South champion, fell short of the state match for the first time since 2012 with a loss last week in the regional final.

The Capers, seeded third in Class B South, had no trouble against No. 6 Freeport or second-ranked Lincoln Academy, beating both by 5-0 scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

Last Thursday, in the regional final at Bates College in Lewiston, Cape Elizabeth met up with No. 4 Yarmouth, a team the Capers beat, 4-1, May 3 at home and a squad they had never lost to in the postseason, but this time around, the Clippers had the last laugh, eking out a 3-2 victory.

The Capers got points at No. 2 singles, where Matt Galvin beat Shepard Shutkin, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, and at first doubles, where Mac Brucker and Carter Brock beat Henry Coolidge and Revi Patel, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Ted Hall fell at first singles, 3-6, 4-6, to Igor Nikolic. Declan McCormick fell, 6-7 (4), 2-6, to Declan McCormick at third singles and the second doubles tandem of Maximo Kesselhaut and Dan Howard fell, 3-6, 6-7 (5), to Max Allen and Andrei Lougovtsov.

Cape Elizabeth finished the season 11-4.

Softball

Scarborough’s powerhouse softball team was closing in on an elusive state championship at press time.

The Red Storm, who won all 16 regular season contests by a composite 228-15 margin, extending their regular season win streak to 73, blanked a pair of playoff foes to reach the regional final. Scarborough, seeded first in Class A South, beat No. 8 Gorham (8-0) in the quarterfinals, then pulled away late to shut down No. 4 Windham (5-0) in the semifinals.

Abbie Murrell threw a one-hitter and struck out nine batters in the win over the Rams. Hannah Ricker led the offense with three hits. Against the Eagles, Hunter Greenleaf had the biggest hit of her career to date, a pinch-hit grand slam, and Lilly Volk threw a three-hit shutout, striking out 13.

The Red Storm advanced to the regional final for the 11th year in a row, where they squared off against No. 2 Portland (16-2) Wednesday evening. Scarborough blanked the visiting Bulldogs, 9-0, back on May 3 and had won two of the three all-time postseason meetings, including a 12-0, six-inning decision in last year’s quarterfinals.

If the Red Storm reached the state game for the sixth time in 11 years, they would face either Skowhegan (16-2) or Oxford Hills (13-5). Scarborough beat Skowhegan in the 2007, 2009 and 2013 Class A state finals. The Red Storm have no history with the Vikings.

South Portland, the No. 10 seed in Class A South, won a playoff game for the first time since 2013, when it knocked off seventh-ranked Kennebunk, 6-4, in a preliminary round contest last Wednesday. The Red Riots built a 4-0 lead after Meghan Livingston’s two-run single in the sixth, but the Rams got a run back in the bottom half, then tied the game in stunning fashion, on a three-run home run, in the seventh, to send the contest to extra innings. There, after South Portland threatened in the top of the eighth and Kennebunk left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Riots scored twice in the 10th, as Aliyah Palmer delivered a two-run, pinch-hit single. South Portland shut down the Rams in the bottom half and survived, 6-4.

The Red Riots had no answer for second-ranked Portland and its ace, Maine’s Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, Jess Brown, in the quarterfinals, losing, 6-0, mustering just three hits (two from Kaitlin Bouchard), as their season ended at 8-10.

“One of the biggest accomplishments this year was coming back to win six out of our last seven games,” said South Portland coach Alexis Garrison. “We were able to beat some big teams that put us in the 10th playoff position, which was a stronger finish than last year. The girls stayed strong and mentally tough all year. They came out to play every game with a positive, winning attitude. The girls really started to come together as a team, making key plays in difficult situations. Our defense is what improved ten-fold since last year. The younger girls really stepped it up and took on some big positions this year. Our bats also came alive during the end of the season. The last seven games, we hit over 400 as a team.”

The Red Riots return a lot of talent next year and could be primed to put up the competitive ladder.

“I’m extremely excited for the 2018 season,” Garrison said. “I only had three starting upperclassman this season, two seniors and a junior. I had three freshmen and three sophomores starting every game. I will be able to keep a majority of the same girls in key positions, which will make a huge difference. I believe we will be a tough team. Be on the lookout for the left side of my infield as well. I had two very strong sophomores there this year that I believe are going to turn some heads in their junior year.”

In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth, the No. 8 seed, hosted No. 9 Leavitt in the preliminary round and appeared en route to victory, leading, 3-0, but a disastrous three-error sixth inning allowed the Hornets to come back and Leavitt went on to a 6-3 victory, ending the Capers’ season at 9-8.

Boys’ lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth’s juggernaut boys’ lacrosse team was two wins from a state title at press time, but the Capers’ most daunting obstacle awaited.

Cape Elizabeth, ranked first in Class B South, earned a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round, where it had no trouble with fourth-ranked Wells, 18-2, Owen Thoreck led the way with five goals. Jackson Woods added four.

That victory advanced the 12-1 Capers to the Game of the Year Part III, the Class B South Final versus No. 2 Falmouth (12-1) Wednesday evening at Hannaford Field (see theforecaster.net for a full recap). The teams split this spring, with the Yachtsmen rallying for a 9-8 victory April 26 in Cape Elizabeth and the Capers returning the favor, 8-5, May 20 in Falmouth. The teams had met in the past eight regional finals, with Cape Elizabeth winning five, but last season, the Yachtsmen sprung a 7-5 upset.

If the Capers moved on to the Class B state game for the fourth time in five years, they would face either Yarmouth (8-6) or Gardiner (14-0) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (that time is subject to change) at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Cape Elizabeth has no postseason history with the Tigers. The Capers swept the Clippers this spring, 17-0 in Yarmouth May 10 and 16-4 at home June 2. Cape Elizabeth has won nine of 12 all-time playoff meetings, with a 7-5 victory in the 2015 Class B state final the  most recent.

The defending Class A champion Scarborough Red Storm also returned to the regional final, continuing the wildly successful coaching tenure of Joe Hezlep, who announced last week that he was retiring after the season. Hezlep has led Scarborough to 120 wins and six state titles (and counting) since taking over the program at the start of the 2008 season.

The top-ranked Red Storm earned a bye into the semifinals, where they got a mighty scare from No. 4 Gorham Saturday before rallying from a 4-0 deficit to win, 6-5. Marco Manfra scored four times, including the winner in the fourth period.

Scarborough (11-2) hosted No. 2 Thornton Academy (13-1) in the Class A South Final Wednesday night. The teams produced an epic in their regular season meeting May 2, an 18-17 Red Storm overtime victory in Saco. Scarborough won three of the previous five playoff meetings, but the last two went to the Golden Trojans, including an 11-8 decision in the 2015 Western A semifinals.

If the Red Storm returned to the state final, they would meet Brunswick (14-0) or Lewiston (10-4) Saturday at 10 a.m., at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Scarborough has beaten both possible foes in prior state games, downing the Dragons in the 2008 (8-6) and 2016 (18-10) Class A Finals and beating the Blue Devils in the 2006 (14-2) and 2011 (6-4) title tilts.

South Portland, seeded third in Class A South, handled No. 6 Massabesic in the quarterfinals, 18-7, as Cooper Mehlhorn had five goals and Ross Meyers added four. The Red Riots were then eliminated, 13-10, at No. 2 Thornton Academy to finish 10-4. Mehlhorn led the way again with five goals.

Girls’ lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland’s girls’ lacrosse teams have all been ousted from the postseason.

The fourth-ranked Capers got to the semifinals for the first time in three seasons after rallying past longtime nemesis, No. 5 Waynflete, in last Wednesday’s quarterfinal round, 10-6. Cape Elizabeth was down with under nine minutes to play, but scored the final five goals to advance. Caroline Coburn, Susie Graham and Emily Healy all had two goals, while Chloe Chapin won nine draws.

“This is huge,” Chapin said. “We all wanted this as a team. We came out hard. We worked on controlling the ball and making smart plays.”

“At the beginning, we were really jumbled up and unfocused, but we came back and started playing as a unit again,” Coburn said. “We wanted to come out strong and play our game.”

“I’m used to losing to (Waynflete) since I’ve been here,” Capers coach Alex Spark added. “It was such a good game. We’ve done a good job battling mentally this year. We started fresh and turned the game around. That was awesome to watch.”

Cape Elizabeth then jumped to a 6-3 lead at Kennebunk in the semifinal round Saturday, but the Rams rallied back to tie it at halftime, then blanked the Capers in the second half while scoring three more goals to win, 9-6, ending Cape Elizabeth’s season at 8-6. Karli Chapin and Casey Kelley had two goals apiece.

“I’m so proud of my team this year,” said  Spark. “Our goal was to work hard every day at practice, feel good about how we played after each game and make it to playoffs. We had some big wins this season and made it to the semis this year and it just showed the girls how good they can be if they believe in themselves and that we can play with anyone we step on to the field with. Most importantly, we worked hard for each other this year, bringing us closer as a program.

“We are losing a great group of seniors that will be missed, but we have a lot of talent in our freshman, sophomore and junior classes and we’re hoping for another big freshman turnout next year. The girls are already excited for next year.”

In Class A South, South Portland, the No. 7 seed, was ousted, 15-4, at second-ranked Marshwood in the quarterfinals to wind up 5-8. Kaya Backman had two goals in defeat.

Scarborough, ranked eighth, lost, 13-3, at top-ranked, defending regional champion Massabesic in its quarterfinal to finish the season 3-10.

Baseball

All three local baseball teams got to the playoffs, but none were able to advance past the semifinal round.

Cape Elizabeth, the No. 4 seed in Class B South, survived No. 5 Greely in the quarterfinals, 5-4, last Thursday. The Capers shot to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Rangers rallied to tie it in the fourth. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Carson Sullivan scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Marshall Peterson, Sullivan and Bowe combined to shut Greely down, with the help of a huge double play in the sixth inning, and Cape Elizabeth evened the all-time postseason series against its rival.

“We made errors and they had some trickles and it was devastating they came back in one inning, but we kept our composure,” Bowe said.

“It’s really big for us,” Sullivan said. “We always compete with Greely and it’s usually a tough battle. We had to do what we could to win.”

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” added Capers coach Andy Wood. “I’m happy to get the win. They’re a great team. We’re always excited to play them. The kids definitely wanted it.”

Cape Elizabeth then dropped a tough 2-0 home decision to No. 9 Yarmouth in Saturday’s semifinal round to end the season 13-5. The Capers’ best chance came in the bottom of the third inning when they loaded the bases with none out, but a line drive double play allowed the Clippers to escape.

“The past three years, we’ve gone 11-5, 11-5 and 12-4 and made the regional final twice,” Wood said. “After looking at it. I don’t think it’s the losing the game that bothers me. It’s more about being fortunate enough to coach some pretty stand-up players is what you end up missing when the season is over. So, I think for me not being able to coach Marshall Peterson for another game is what gets me.

“High school baseball is a funny game. The past few years it shows the importance of getting kids hot at the right time. When I woke up on Saturday and if someone told me that Yarmouth was going to only score two runs, I would say we win that game for sure. In any playoff game, it’s always something little that ends up being the difference. In that game, we had an opportunity with bases loaded and no outs with our number three hitter up. He hit a line drive to the first baseman and the runner was doubled up. We never had another chance to score, but if that ball he hits goes another six inches to the left. We score two runs,and the momentum goes back to our side.”

The Capers graduate a couple key players, but will be one of the favorites again in 2018.

“The biggest thing we lose is 44 innings pitched and a 1.11 ERA from Marshall Peterson and our second team all-conference centerfielder Brett McAlister,” Wood said. “Our entire infield, a Division 1 catcher (Brendan Tinsman) and five pitchers are returning. I think we can compete with any one in Class B.”

South Portland earned the fifth seed in Class A South and got past No. 12 Bonny Eagle in a preliminary round game, 4-3, last Wednesday. Sam Troiano did it all, earning the win (with relief help from Connor Buckley) and driving in a pair of runs. Caden Horton’s RBI single proved to be the difference.

That win sent the Red Riots to No. 4 Portland for a quarterfinal round tilt Thursday. South Portland put its first four batters on and scored twice, but failed to break the game open and the Bulldogs answered with five runs. After the Red Riots scored twice more in the top of the fourth, Portland again responded with five. In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs pushed across four runs to induce the 10-run mercy rule and ended South Portland’s season at 13-5 with a 14-4 victory. Troiano had two hits, including a triple, scored twice and stole a base, but it wasn’t enough.

“When you step back, I’m really happy with the season,” Red Riots coach Mike Owens said. “You don’t want it to end this way, but I had three freshmen on the field in a playoff game.”

Graduation takes Troiano and Gordon Whittemore from the starting lineup, but everyone else will be back. Expect South Portland to be a factor again in 2018.

“We only lose two guys from this year’s team,” Owens said. “(Troiano) is as special as anyone I’ve every coached. We may be a year or two ahead of where I thought we were. We’re not going anywhere. I’m excited about working with these guys in the future.”

Scarborough wound up eighth in Class A South and beat No. 9 Windham in a preliminary round game, 6-4, last Wednesday. The Red Storm built a 6-0 lead after two innings and Morgan Pratt and Jack Clark combined to hold off the Eagles.

That sent Scarborough to top-ranked Falmouth for a quarterfinal last Thursday, where the Red Storm weren’t as fortunate, losing, 9-2, as their season ended at 10-8.

Track

Several local standouts took part at the outdoor track New England championship meet in Norwell, Massachusetts Saturday.

The Class A state champion Scarborough boys got strong showings from Jarret Flaker (10th in the 300 hurdles, 39.86 seconds, and 13th in the 100, 11.29), Ben Batoosingh (13th in the 200, 22.84, and 18th in the 400, 51.34), Alex Dionne (13th in the pole vault, 13-3) and Shamus Malia (20th in the mile, 4 minutes, 30.11 seconds).

The Red Storm girls sent pole vaulters Anna Gardner (11th, 9-9) and Kirsten Dennen (tied for 17th, 9-0).

South Portland’s Juliana Selser was 11th in the girls’ 800 (2:14.45). The Red Riots’ girls’ 4×400 relay team of Kaleisha Towle, Anna Folley, Callie O’Brien and Selser placed 22nd (4:19.76).

Cape Elizabeth’s Darcy Cochran was eighth in the 300 hurdles (46.32) and 12th in the 100 hurdles (15.58).

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

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