Deering senior pitcher Colby Dame is congratulated by junior first baseman Joe Pelletier after recording a key out during the Rams’ 1-0 home win over Sanford Thursday afternoon.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com.
More photos below.
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McGonagle grounded out to second, Sinclair scored.
Left on base:
Veino and Liston; Dame and Yee
Veino (L, 0-2) 6 IP 2 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 7 K 1 WP
Dame (W, 1-0) 7 IP 5 H 0 R 0 BB 12 K
PORTLAND—Deering’s baseball team has been chomping at the bit for an opportunity to get outside and play a real, countable game.
After a long preseason and some fits and starts, the Rams got that chance Thursday afternoon at Hadlock Field and they showed why they should be in the hunt all season.
Behind senior left-handed ace Colby Dame, Deering held Sanford at bay for seven innings and the only remaining mystery was could the Rams find a way to generate any offense.
The answer finally came in the bottom of the fourth, where, thanks to some Spartans’ largesse, Deering loaded the bases with one out and when junior second baseman Alex McGonagle’s ground ball wasn’t handled cleanly, senior shortstop James Sinclair came home with the tiebreaking run.
From there, it was all Dame, who struck out 12 and needed just 84 pitches to finish off a 1-0 victory in a tidy 1 hour, 13 minutes as the Rams started 1-0 and dropped Sanford to 0-3 in the process.
“I’ll take it if it’s 1-0, 10-0, it doesn’t matter,” said Deering coach Josh Stowell. “I’ll take a win whenever we can get one. It was really nice to finally get a game in. That’s better than anything.”
Deering has posted winning records and made the playoffs two years running (the Rams were ousted, 4-0, by eventual regional champion Falmouth in the Class A South quarterfinals last spring) and this spring, is hoping to be one of the last teams standing.
Deering was supposed to open Friday at Thornton Academy, but rain moved that game to Saturday, where it was postponed again due to wet field conditions. Tuesday, the Rams were supposed to play at Scarborough, but again, Mother Nature had other ideas.
Sanford went 2-14 and missed the postseason in 2016 and began this season with losses at Bonny Eagle (4-3) and Westbrook (5-0). Tuesday’s scheduled home game versus Portland was postponed by rain.
Last spring, Deering won, 8-5, in eight innings, at the Spartans in the regular season finale.
Thursday, on a cloudy but otherwise comfortable afternoon (53 degrees at first pitch), Dame and his teammates did just enough to open in the win column.
Dame got ahead of Sanford senior leadoff hitter, centerfielder Brad Bouchard, 0-2 in the count before Bouchard lined a single barely over the glove of the leaping McGonagle at second. Junior shortstop Nate Martineau then grounded to McGonagle, who forced Bouchard at second. Senior third Keith Kerrigan wasn’t able to hold up and struck out and freshman leftfielder Leyton Bickford struck out swinging, but strike three was in the dirt and Deering freshman catcher Princehoward Yee couldn’t find it, allowing Bickford to reach safely and Martineau to take second. With sophomore catcher Nick Liston at the plate, Dame reared back and struck him out to retire the side.
In the bottom half, the Spartans’ defense was solid. Junior third baseman Jack Lynch grounded out to third for the first out and senior rightfielder Riley Bartell did the same for the third, but it was the second out that had everyone on hand’s mouth agape. Junior centerfielder Luc Harrison sent a foul ball down the rightfield line that appeared uncatchable, but from nowhere, junior second baseman Ryan Connarton swooped in and dove to make a tremendous catch.
In the top of the second, Dame recorded his fourth straight strikeout, getting Veino looking. Junior designated hitter Jared Scarpelli then looked at strike three as well. That brought up senior rightfielder Nick Howard, who made contact, but popped out to short.
Sinclair started the bottom of the frame by launching a fly ball to right. Howard appeared primed to make the catch, but he slipped and the ball bounced off his glove for a double. Dame struck out and sophomore designated hitter Luke Hill grounded to third, with Sinclair moving up. McGonagle then struck out looking to end the threat.
Sanford threatened in the top of the third, as Connarton led off with a bloop single to right. Bouchard grounded out slowly to short with Connarton moving up. Martineau then beat out a bunt single to put runners at the corners. Kerrigan had a chance to break the tie, but he struck out with Martineau stealing second on strike three. That gave Bickford a chance to drive in a pair of runs, but he didn’t have a chance, as Dame threw three straight fastballs by him to escape.
In the bottom half, Veino got junior first baseman Joe Pelletier to chase strike three, fanned Yee on a full count pitch and got Lynch to pop out to second, but Connarton couldn’t make the catch and the error kept the inning alive. That proved to be a momentary nuisance for Veino, who, after Lynch stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch, got Harrison to look at strike three to end it.
The Spartans threatened again in the fourth, as Liston singled between Dame’s legs leading off, but Veino’s soft liner was snared on a short hop by Sinclair at short, who threw to McGonagle at second for the force and McGonagle’s throw on to first was snared by a lunging Pelletier to complete the double play. Scarpelli then reached when Lynch threw the ball way, but Dame struck out Howard swinging to end it.
In the bottom half, Deering finally broke through with a lot of help from the visitors.
Bartell led off by blooping a single to center, but Sinclair forced him with a grounder to short. Dame then grounded sharply to Martineau at short. Martineau, going to his right, threw to Connarton at second for the force, but Connarton couldn’t catch the ball and the Rams had two runners on. Things got even worse for Sanford when Hill grounded back to the mound and Veino threw wide of second, loading the bases. That brought up McGonagle, who grounded sharply to Connarton. Had he fielded the ball cleanly, he would have been able to throw out Sinclair at home, but he bobbled the ball before throwing to first for the out, as Sinclair came home with the run. Pelletier struck out to end the inning, but the Rams were up, 1-0.
Connarton struck out to lead off the fifth and Bouchard followed with a fly out to right. Martineau grounded slowly to second and McGonagle’s throw was just in time to retire the side.
In the bottom half, Veino made quick work of Deering, as Yee looked at strike three and both Lynch and Harrison grounded out to shortstop.
Dame retired both Kerrigan and junior pinch-hitter Marcus Gould on grounders to Sinclair to start the sixth, but Liston cracked his second hit, a single to center. Dame then registered his 10th strikeout, getting Veino to chase a pitch out the strike zone, for the third out.
In the bottom half, Bartell popped out to first, Sinclair lined out deep to center and Dame popped out foul to Veino, who made a nice lunging catch.
Dame then slammed the door in the seventh, getting Scarpelli swinging on a full count pitch, junior pinch-hitter Josiah Scott to strike out swinging as well and Connarton to ground back to the mound to end it in a crisp 73 minutes.
“The win boosts our morale,” said Dame. “I was hoping we’d come out and score a little earlier, but we got one, that’s all that matters. Getting that run took the stress off.”
“We got that run and Colby only had thrown 62 pitches so I felt confident with him and the solid defense behind him,” said Stowell. “James controlled the infield himself.”
Dame was masterful, striking out 12 and allowing just five hits and no walks in his seven shutout innings.
“I felt good,” Dame said. “I can usually tell if I’m going to be sharp. My fastball worked well and my curve ball. I was just trying to throw strikes. My defense helped a lot.”
“Colby threw well,” Stowell said. “We haven’t had a chance to stretch him out too far. He came out strong. The big thing we’ve preached all preseason is first pitch strikes. He did that today. I think he was 20 pitches in before he threw a ball. That’s key, especially with the new pitching rule.”
Deering couldn’t do much with Veino, producing just two hits, but Sinclair managed to score the run and McGonagle got the lone RBI. Sinclair had the game’s lone extra base hit, a double, and Lynch stole a base.
The Rams left four runners on.
“We were a little out in front,” Stowell said. “(Veino) kept us off balance. He throws a lot of change-ups. He keeps them in games. I’m happy we were able to put enough balls in play to create pressure. They gave us some help.”
Veino was the hard-luck loser, falling to 0-2 after giving up one unearned run on two hits in six innings. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned seven while throwing a wild pitch.
Sanford got two hits from Liston and Martineau stole a base, but the Spartans left six runners on base.
While Sanford is back in action Saturday when Thornton Academy pays a visit, Deering will play its makeup game at Thornton Academy Friday and hosts Gorham Saturday. Next week, the Rams visit Scarborough in a makeup Monday, go to Massabesic Tuesday, then have their annual showdown with rival Portland Friday at Hadlock Field.
“I think we’ll be a playoff team,” Sinclair said. “We’ll be better than last year. We have good team chemistry.”
“It’s still early,” Stowell said. “We’re just trying to get into the groove.”
Deering senior ace Colby Dame throws a strike. Dame threw 84 pitches and struck out 12.
Deering junior third baseman Jack Lynch makes a throw.
Deering senior shortstop James Sinclair makes a throw on the run.
Deering junior third baseman Jack Lynch makes contact.
Deering junior second baseman Alex McGonagle makes a throw.