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Portland’s baseball team rushes the field in celebration at the conclusion of Thursday’s 9-8 home win over Marshwood.
M- 102 400 1- 8 9 1
P- 200 025 x- 9 8 3
Curtis tripled to left-center, Chase scored.
Stasium scored on wild pitch. King tripled to center, Snyder scored.
Chase scored on error. Caverly singled to center, Horton scored.
Doyon scored on Baker bunt. Horton grounded out to short, Parmley scored. Curtis doubled to left, Chase scored. Curtis stole home.
Stasium tripled to right, Pasquali scored. Barnard grounded out to second, Stasium scored.
Sawyer singled to left, Snyder scored. Pasquali walked, King scored. Stasium doubled to left-center, Sawyer, Loranger and Pasquali scored.
Doyon singled to left, Smaracko scored.
M- Doyon 3, Caverly, Curtis
P- King, Stasium
M- Chase 3, Curtis, Doyon, Horton, Parmsley, Smaracko
P- Pasquali, Snyder, Stasium 2, King, Loranger, Sawyer
M- Curtis 2, Baker, Caverly, Doyon, Horton
P-Stasium 4, Barnard, King, Pasquali, Sawyer
M- Caverly, Curtis
P- Pasquali, Stasium
P- King, Stasium
M- Chase, Curtis, Doyon, Horton
P- Stasium, Tocci
Left on base:
Curtis, Cahill (6), Whitehouse (6) and Caverly; Villani, Graffius (5), Tocci (7) and King
* Curtis 6 IP 6 H 6 R 6 ER 2 BB 8 K 2 HBP 1 WP
Cahill (L) 0.1 IP 2 H 2 R 2 ER 1 BB 1 K
Whitehouse 0.2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K
* Curtis pitched to three batters in the sixth,
Villani 4 IP 6 H 7 R 1 ER 5 BB 3 K
Graffius (W, 1-0) 2 IP 1 H 0 R 1 BB 0 K
Tocci (Save, 1) 1 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 1 K
PORTLAND—Was this one ever worth the wait.
Portland’s baseball team wondered most of Thursday if it would be able to ever take the field at Hadlock Field, as its game against Marshwood was first jeopardized by potential bad weather, then delayed when a previous contest went 12 innings.
Once the Bulldogs did take the field, it appeared they would have been better off being postponed, as they spotted the Hawks a five-run lead.
But Portland saved its best for last, rallying for its most inspirational victory of the young season and perhaps setting the stage for even more triumph down the road.
Marshwood grabbed the lead in the top of the first inning when senior pitcher Nate Curtis tripled home junior leftfielder Trevor Chase, but Portland answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half, as junior centerfielder Ben Stasium scored without the benefit of a hit and senior catcher Cam King tripled home senior third baseman Will Snyder.
The Hawks retook the lead in the third, thanks to an error and an RBI single from sophomore catcher Connor Caverly.
In the top of the fourth, Marshwood took advantage of more shaky Bulldogs’ defense combined with derring-do on the basepaths to score four times and seemingly put a stranglehold on the contest.
Portland began to rally in the bottom of the fifth, when senior designated hitter Vinnie Pasquali doubled, Stasium tripled, then scored on a ground ball from junior shortstop Will Barnard to cut the deficit to 7-4.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, the Bulldogs erupted for five runs to go on top to stay, as junior first baseman Ben Sawyer hit an RBI single, Pasquali walked to drive in a run with the bases loaded and Stasium came through with the biggest hit of the season so far, a three-run triple for a 9-7 advantage.
Portland didn’t close it out without some scary moments, however, as Marshwood got a two-out RBI single from junior first baseman Adam Doyon, but junior Donnie Tocci struck out sophomore second baseman Quinn McDaniel to end it and the Bulldogs prevailed in a two-hour instant classic, 9-8.
“We had our heads down, but we know what Portland baseball is all about,” Stasium said. “We’ve done it before. Last year, in the same situation against Marshwood, we had a big comeback. We picked our heads up and we just came back.”
Class A South appears to be devoid of a team to beat this spring and early results have reaffirmed that suspicion.
Marshwood dropped its opener, 5-3, at Biddeford, then defeated visiting Massabesic (18-8). Windham (3-2) and Sanford (6-2).
Portland started with a 7-1 win at Noble, then rolled at preseason favorite Thornton Academy (8-1), but Tuesday, the Bulldogs lost at Windham, 2-1.
Last spring, Portland eked out a wild 14-13 victory at Marshwood for its fourth straight victory in the series.
For much of the day Thursday, it appeared the teams would be postponed due to rain, but the “Play Ball” call was made and after waiting an extra 85 minutes because Deering needed 12 innings to beat Massabesic in the preceding game, the teams finally got the green light to play on a 52 degree evening that included occasional rain.
The Hawks were seeking their first win over the Bulldogs since May 7, 2013, but Portland rallied to steal one.
Marshwood got off a quick start in the top of the first against Portland junior starter Jackson “Sonny” Villani.
Senior centerfielder Ian Parmley grounded out to second, but Chase walked on a 3-2 pitch and after senior third baseman Max Horton lined out to second, Curtis laid into a Villani fastball and drove it up the alley in left-center, all the way to the wall, for a triple which easily scored Chase for a 1-0 lead. Villani got Caverly to ground out to second for the third out.
Stasium led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk on a full count against Curtis. With Barnard at the plate, Stasium stole second and when Caverly’s throw got away, he took third base as well. Curtis then threw a wild pitch and Stasium completed his tour around the bases to tie the score. Barnard struck out looking and Tocci, who began the game in rightfield, popped out to second, but Snyder singled to center and King pounded the ball over the head of Parmley in center for an RBI triple and the lead. Sawyer then grounded out to third to end the eventful opening inning.
The top of the second inning was relatively quiet, as Villani struck out sophomore designated hitter Marshall Smaracko swinging, got senior rightfielder Jack Cahill to ground to third and after Doyon singled down the leftfield line and moved to second on a wild pitch and McDaniel walked, Doyon was thrown out by King trying to steal third.
In the bottom half, junior leftfielder Jake Loranger was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count, but after Villani flew out to left, Loranger was out trying to steal second and Pasquali struck out swinging.
Marshwood took the lead in the third.
Parmley struck out leading off, but Chase walked, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Horton followed with a ground ball to third and while Snyder’s throw was slightly high, it was catchable. Sawyer couldn’t bring it in, however, and when the ball rolled away for an error, not only did Horton reach safely and wind up on second, but Chase came home with the tying run. Curtis grounded out to third for the second out, but Caverly delivered a clutch single to center to score Horton with the go-ahead run. Caverly moved up on a wild pitch and Smaracko walked, but Villani escaped further damage by getting Cahill to ground out to second.
In the bottom half, Curtis fanned Stasium looking and Barnard swinging, but Tocci walked on a full count and stole second before Snyder grounded out to first (with the pitcher coming).
Portland then came apart at the seams in the top of the fourth, as a one-run deficit quickly grew to five.
Doyon started the uprising with a single to center and after taking second on a passed ball, he stole third. McDaniel struck out, but senior Alex Baker drove in a run with a bunt down the first base line and Baker reached safely when junior second baseman Henry Westphal couldn’t handle Sawyer’s throw for an error. Parmley returned to run and when Chase beat out a bunt, Parmley took third and on the throw, Chase moved up to second. Horton followed with a ground out to short to score Parmley and Curtis delivered his second extra base hit, a double to left, scoring Chase. After Curtis moved up on a wild pitch and Caverly walked, Caverly took off for second, got himself in a rundown and on the play, Curtis stole home with his team’s seventh run before the third out was recorded.
The Bulldogs went meekly in their half of the fourth, as Curtis got King to chase strike three, sophomore Griffin Buckley to look at strike three and Loranger to ground out to first (with the pitcher covering).
In the top of the fifth, senior Charles Graffius came on to throw and he got Smaracko to pop to second and Cahill to fly to right and after he hit Doyon with a pitch, he got McDaniel to ground out to third.
Portland rediscovered its offense in the bottom half and got a couple runs back.
After Graffius looked at strike three, Pasquali went the other way and doubled down the leftfield line. Stasium then lined a hit to right to score Pasquali and when Cahill slipped and fell on the wet grass, Stasium steamed into third with a triple. That loomed large, as Barnard grounded out to second to score Stasium. Tocci struck out swinging, but the Bulldogs were back within three runs, 7-4.
“Five runs seems like a lot more than three runs,” Stasium said. “That was a lot of momentum change right there.”
“Going from 7-2 to 7-4, you forget about those runs, but they were huge,” Portland coach Mike Rutherford said.
In the top of the sixth, Parmley bounced out to second and after Chase walked and stole second, he was gunned down by King trying to pilfer third. Horton reached on an infield single to the right side, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by King. That left it up to Curtis, who grounded sharply to short to end the threat.
Portland then completed its comeback in the bottom half.
Snyder led off by being hit on an 0-2 pitch. King singled to right to move Snyder to second and when Sawyer went the other way and blooped a single to left, Snyder scored to cut the deficit to 7-5.
Cahill then replaced Curtis and was greeted by a bunt single from Loranger to load the bases. That brought up sophomore Cole Walter to hit for Graffius and Walter struck out swinging.
Pasquali then drew a walk to bring home King and the Bulldogs were within one.
Enter Stasium to play the role of hero.
Stasium fell behind in the count, but he hung in there, then turned around a Cahill fastball and ripped a shot to the gap in left-center. Sawyer, Loranger and Pasquali all raced home and Stasium steamed into second with a double that produced a 9-7 advantage.
“I really just wanted to put the ball in play, maybe find a hole,” said Stasium. “I got down in the count. I don’t even know what pitch I got, but I hit it on the screws. I wanted to get a run or two in, but I got more than that. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done something like that. Hitting a gap shot in that situation was unbelievable.”
“We got the pitching count up on (Curtis), they brought a reliever in and we took advantage,” Rutherford said. “That was a great bunt by Jake to get bases loaded and Ben was huge.”
Cahill was replaced by senior Cooper Whitehouse, who avoided further damage, getting Barnard to fly out to center and Tocci to ground out to short.
Tocci then came on to close it out, but Marshwood wouldn’t go quietly in the top of the seventh.
Tocci fell behind Caverly 2-0, then gave up a double to left. Caverly was replaced by pinch-runner Sam Peulerson, but Peulerson was quickly erased, as Tocci threw to Barnard to pick him off.
“Give credit to my assistant coaches, Nicky Volger and Steve Rogers,” said Rutherford. “When they pinch-ran, they tapped me on the shoulder and told me he probably wasn’t ready to run the bases and I called the pickoff play. That was a big out.”
That loomed huge, as Smaracko drew a walk and after Cahill grounded back to the mound with Smaracko moving up, Doyon kept the game alive with a single down the leftfield line to score Smaracko. Loranger did a nice job getting to the ball to prevent Doyon from getting into scoring position. McDaniel then tried to extend the contest, but after crushing a 1-2 pitch just foul down the rightfield line, Tocci blew strike three past him to end the game at 10:26 p.m.
Portland 9 Marshwood 8.
“Once I saw (Donnie) warming up, I had so much confidence we’d put it away in the end,” Stasium said.
“I’ve been here since 3-o-clock,” Rutherford said. “It was a long day, but it’s good we played. It’s almost a game we stole. This would have been a tough loss after a tough game against Windham. We had the same type game last year at Marshwood. We got down 10-2 and came back to win.
“We played very poor baseball the first four innings. We walked a lot of guys and made errors. They put pressure on us. They ran the bases and swung the bat well. They’re a very good team.”
The Bulldogs’ offensive attack was paced by King and Stasium, who each had two hits. Pasquali, Snyder and Stasium scored two runs apiece, while King, Loranger and Sawyer touched home once. Stasium had four RBI, while Barnard, King, Pasquali and Sawyer each drove in one run. Pasquali and Stasium doubled, while King and Stasium hit triples. Stasium and Tocci had stolen bases.
Portland stranded only three runners.
Villani got bailed out by his teammates and didn’t finish with a decision, as he gave up seven runs (just one earned) on six hits in four innings of work. Villani walked five, struck out three and threw four wild pitches.
“We have to get Sonny on track,” Rutherford said. “He has a world of talent. He gets himself in trouble with walks. When you walk a lot of guys, the defense doesn’t play well. It goes together.”
Graffius played a pivotal role and wound up earning the win, his first. Graffius pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk.
“Charlie Graffius had never played a varsity game and he got his first win,” Rutherford said. “He gave us two big innings. We gave him the game ball. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back.”
Tocci earned his first save, but it wasn’t easy. He surrendered a run on two hits in his inning of work, fanning one and walking a batter.
“I didn’t want to use Donnie long,” Rutherford said. “I want to use him (Saturday) against Falmouth. He gave us a little scare.”
Marshwood got three hits from Doyon and two apiece from Caverly and Curtis. Chase scored three runs, while Curtis, Doyon, Horton, Parmley and Smaracko had one apiece. Curtis drove in a pair, while Baker, Caverly, Doyon and Horton each finished with one RBI. Caverly and Curtis had doubles, while Curtis tripled. Chase, Curtis, Doyon and Horton registered stolen bases. The Hawks were hindered by leaving seven runners on base.
Curtis was in line to earn the win, but it slipped away and he wound up with no decision. He gave up six runs on six hits in six-plus innings. Curtis walked two, struck out eight, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch. Cahill took the loss in relief after giving up two runs on two hits in just one-third of an inning. He walked one and struck out a batter. Whitehouse retired both hitters he faced.
While Marshwood returns to action Saturday at home against South Portland, Portland travels to Falmouth Saturday at 1 p.m. (see theforecaster.net for game story) to try and avenge last year’s gutwrenching and thrilling semifinal round playoff loss to the Yachtsmen.
Next week brings trips to Scarborough and Biddeford.
Let the fun continue.
“Coach always says people are saying next year will be our year because we have a lot of juniors, but ‘this year’ is our mindset,” Stasium said. “We just have to keep the wins coming.”
“I’ve done this 20 years and I’ve never seen a year where there were no undefeated teams after a week-and-a-half,” Rutherford said. “Thornton Academy is good, but not great. We’re good, but not great. South Portland is good, but not great. There are no great teams.
“We have Falmouth next, which has knocked us out two years in a row. They’re playing good baseball. Then we have Scarborough. Playing a Mikey D’Andrea-coached team is never easy, then we have Biddeford. Every game will be tough for us.”