Portland wins again, perfect at halfway pole

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Portland junior centerfielder Nick Archambault dives to record the first out of Tuesday’s 3-0 home win over Marshwood. Archambault also stole the show on offense, hitting an out-of-the-park home run in the sixth.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Portland 3 Marshwood 0

M- 000 000 0- 0 5 1
P- 200 001 x- 3 6 1

Bottom 1st
Tocci tripled to right, Knop scored. Williams grounded out to shortstop, Tocci scored.

Bottom 6th
Archambault homered to left-center, Archambault scored.

Multiple hits:
M-McDaniel
P- Archambault, Knop

Runs:
P- Archambault, Knop, Tocci

RBI:
P- Archambault, Tocci, Williams

Double:
P- Archambault

Triple:
P- Tocci

Home run:
P- Archambault (1)

Stolen base:
P- Knop

Left on base:
M-6
P- 4

Dorr and Jackman; Marzilli and King

M:
Dorr (1-2) 6 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 2 BB 2 K

P:
Marzilli (W, 4-0) 7 IP 5 H 0 R 2 BB 3 K 1 HBP

Knowles reached on catcher’s interference

Time: 1:17

PORTLAND—There were an inordinate amount of thrills packed into 77 minutes at Hadlock Field on a splendid Tuesday afternoon and once again, it was the Portland Bulldogs producing them.

The undefeated Bulldogs welcomed perennial contender Marshwood in their final contest of what has been a very successful first half of the 2016 season.

The game began with a bang, as Portland junior centerfielder Nick Archambault made a pretty diving catch, helping senior ace Dan Marzilli escape the top of the first inning unscathed.

Then, in the bottom half, the Bulldogs got all the offense they’d need, when junior shortstop Jake Knop, who was flawless in the field, beat out an infield single and scored on a triple by junior second baseman Dom Tocci, who came home on an RBI ground out from senior first baseman John Williams.

Marzilli wasn’t about to relinquish the lead, as he had to work out of just one jam, in the fourth inning, and kept the Hawks at bay thanks in part to picking off a pair of baserunners.

In the bottom of the sixth, Archambault made a statement with his bat, crushing a rare out of the park home run to left-center for an insurance run and after some drama in the seventh, Marzilli finished it off, thanks in part to a Marshwood baserunning blunder, and Portland prevailed, 3-0.

The Bulldogs got two hits apiece from Archambault and Knop, Marzilli threw a five-hit shutout and Portland improved to 8-0, dropping the Hawks to 4-5 in the process.

“These are the games we should win and the games we have to win for the playoffs,” said Archambault.

Wins keep coming

Portland has lived up to billing this spring by picking up where the 2015 regional finalists left off, winning games behind strong pitching, solid fielding and timely hitting.

Portland opened by rallying late to edge visiting Biddeford, 4-3. The Bulldogs then downed visiting Westbrook (6-2) and Gorham (14-8) and won at Massabesic (6-3), Windham (3-2) and Noble (10-3) and Saturday, handled visiting Sanford, 7-1.

Marshwood was upset by eventual regional champion South Portland in a 9-8 shootout in last year’s semifinals. The Hawks aren’t quite as strong this season, but are still in thick of things in Class A South. Marshwood opened with a 7-2 win at Noble, then lost at home to Bonny Eagle, 6-1. After beating visiting Massabesic, 6-1, the Hawks lost at home to Scarborough (4-2) and Gorham (10-5), then were blanked at Cheverus (3-0). Marshwood’s pitching has been superb since, as the Hawks blanked visiting Deering, 4-0, last Thursday and shut out visiting Windham Monday, 3-0.

A year ago, the Bulldogs swept the Hawks, opening with a 5-3 victory in South Berwick, then blanking them, 5-0, in Portland, behind Marzilli’s five-hit shutout.

Tuesday, on a long-awaited and well-deserved beautiful day (63 degrees at first pitch) for baseball, Marshwood hoped to beat Portland for the first time since May 7, 2013, but the Bulldogs made it four in a row in the series and improved to 10-5 all-time against the Hawks.

Portland played strong defense behind Marzilli in the top of the first.

Archambault set the tone, as he raced in to dive and catch a line drive off the bat of senior leftfielder Ryan O’Neil to start the game.

“I was playing a little deeper than normal because the wind was blowing out,” Archambault said. “It was kind of a flare. I came on hard. I love diving for fly balls, it’s the best part of playing the outfield, I was just happy to make the catch.”

Senior centerfielder Zach Doyon followed with a sharp single to center, but junior catcher Holden Jackman hit a ground ball right at Tocci at second, who threw to Knop at short for a force out, and Knop threw on t0 Williams at first for a double play.

In the bottom half, the Bulldogs got their offense going.

Knop led off by beating out a slow roller to short for an infield single. Tocci then fought off several pitches and worked a full count before lining a sharp ground ball over first base and when it rolled all the way down the rightfield line to the wall, Knop easily circled the bases with the game’s first run and Tocci raced into third with a triple. Williams followed with a slow ground ball to short to score Tocci. Archambault grounded out to third and senior designated hitter Joe Fusco grounded out to second to end it, but Portland had a quick 2-0 lead.

In the top of the second, Marzilli allowed a leadoff single to left to junior shortstop Cole McDaniel, but senior rightfielder Joe Clayton made a nice running catch on a fly ball from sophomore third baseman Nate Curtis. Senior second baseman Nick Landis drew a walk, but senior first baseman C.J. Davis grounded slowly to Knop, who threw to first with the runners advancing and sophomore designated hitter Max Horton hit a slow roller towards second, which saw Knop show off his range by getting to the ball before throwing on to first to end the frame.

“We played great defense,” Portland coach Mike Rutherford said. “Knop struggled early in the season, but he was on today.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t add to their lead in the bottom half,

Senior Jack Nichols grounded out to third, but senior leftfielder Zach Fortin singled to right and when sophomore rightfielder Jack Cahill misplayed the ball, Fortin took second on the error. He couldn’t advance, however, as sophomore catcher Cam King flew out to O’Neil right in front of the bullpen along the leftfield line and Clayton bounced out to second.

Cahill led off the top of the third by grounding out to Knop. Marzilli then struck out O’Neil and Doyon’s grounder to Knop was handled off a tough hop and Knop threw on to first to quickly retire the side.

In the bottom half, the Bulldogs went just as quickly, as Knop grounded out to third (Davis made a nice tag on a high throw at first), Tocci popped out to left and Williams flew out to left.

Marshwood threatened in the fourth.

Marzilli got Jackman to ground out to Knop, but McDaniel lined a single to left and Curtis beat out a bunt hit. Landis drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases, bringing up Davis, who looked at strike three.

“It always seems when (Dan) gets a strikeout, they’re big strikeouts,” Rutherford said. “He’s our horse. That’s what we expect.”

Marzilli got out of the jam by getting Horton to fly to center to end it.

“I stay relaxed,” Marzilli said. “I just think of me and the catcher. I don’t stress myself out and that helped me a lot.”

Archambault led off the bottom half with a hint of what was to come when he doubled over the head of Doyon in center.

“The first at-bat, I swung at a pitch I shouldn’t have swung at, so I was trying to be more selective the next at-bat,” Archambault said. “I got a couple balls, so I was ahead in the count, so I just looked for a fastball I could hit hard.”

Fusco was intentionally walked, but Nichols grounded to into an around-the-horn double play and Nichols grounded out to third to end the threat.

Marzilli showed off his pickoff form in the fifth.

Cahill led off and beat out a bunt single, but Marzilli immediately threw to Williams for the out. Marzilli then hit O’Neil with a pitch, but again, immediately picked him off for the second out.

“I like my pickoff move,” Marzilli said. “I don’t really practice it much, but once the game starts, I get in the flow. Coach (Ian) Boyle tells me when I should throw over, but he also tells me I have the right to throw over whenever I want. I usually throw over when he wants me to. I heard their first base coach tell (the runners) not to take a big lead. I faked like I was throwing to the plate and I threw it over and I thought it was perfect that I got them.”

Doyon lined out to left for out number three.

After King looked at strike three to start the bottom half, Clayton grounded out to short, but Knop singled to center and stole second. Tocci was walked intentionally to bring up Williams with a chance to break it open, but he grounded into a short-to-second force play to end the threat.

Marzilli made quick work of the Hawks in the top of the sixth, getting Jackman to ground back to the mound, McDaniel to ground out to third and Curtis to chase strike three.

That set the stage for the biggest blow of the season so far.

Archambault led off the bottom of the sixth and absolutely crushed Dorr’s second offering deep to left-center. The only question was whether or not it would clear the Unum sign and when the ball plunked off the wall and bounced back on the field, initially the umpires ruled it as a double. But after conferring, they waved Archambault around the bases for a rare over-the-fence home run.

“I was thinking second all the way,” Archambault said. “I got to second and they threw the ball in and I asked the second baseman if he thought it was a home run. He said he thought it hit the wall, but the ump said it was a home run, so I just kept going. It’s special because this is a special ballpark. We’re fortunate to play here. It’s cooler to do it here than at other ballparks, that’s for sure.”

“(Nick) had quite a game today,” Marzilli said. “He’s a really good player. I love playing with him. He’s a phenomenal person.”

“You have to make adjustments to a guy who threw probably 80 percent curveballs,” Rutherford said. “Archie stayed back on the ball and drove it to left-center. That’s probably the first home run at Hadlock for a Portland kid since John O’Brien hit one over the Monster in 2006. We didn’t even hit the wall last year. He’s a strong kid and he’s a leader. The umpire said it hit to the right of the yellow line. I thought it hit the Unum sign, but it doesn’t matter what I think. The umpire waved his finger (signifying a home run).”

Fusco then grounded to third, Nichols looked at strike three and Fortin grounded out to short to send the game to the seventh.

There, Marzilli had to work out of a little trouble.

Landis led off and reached on Williams’ error. Junior pinch-hitter Aiden Place grounded out to Tocci with Landis advancing and senior pinch-hitter Clint Knowles reached on catcher’s interference to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of junior pinch-hitter Hunter Carignan, who grounded to Knop, who threw to Tocci for the force out.

Marshwood had another chance to bring the tying run up in the form of O’Neil, but Carignan, expecting to be pinch-run for, left the bag without calling time and was tagged out to end the game in unorthodox fashion.

“(The runner) never called time,” Rutherford said. “The first base coach yelled for a pinch-runner, but never called time and you can’t leave the base until you do. We took advantage of that.

“We won today just like we did last year. That’s exactly how we played.”

Portland’s offense was paced by Archambault and Knop, who both had two hits. Archambault, Knop and Tocci scored runs, while Archambault, Tocci and Williams had RBI. Knop stole a base. The Bulldogs had three extra base hits and stranded four runners.

Marzilli improved to 4-0 by throwing a five-hit shutout. He walked two batters, struck out three and hit one.

“I felt really good today,” said Marzilli. “I didn’t try to overthrow pitches. I tried to attack the batters. I trust my fielders.”

“Dan throws hard,” Archambault said. “He’s been giving up some quirky hits this year, but we always have his back. He was on his game and that’s fun for fielders.”

“Danny had one hard-hit ball,” Rutherford added. “He threw ground balls and we made plays. He’s not a strikeout pitcher. He pitches to contact and we play good defense.”

Marshwood got two hits from McDaniel, but only three others. The Hawks stranded six runners.

Dorr fell to 1-2 after allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. He fanned two.

Tough stretch

Marshwood is back in action Thursday at Biddeford and hosts Thornton Academy Saturday.

Portland gets a stern test Thursday, when it plays at Cheverus. Senior Charles Barnard is expected to get the ball. After visiting Bonny Eagle Saturday, the Bulldogs have to play at Thornton Academy Tuesday of next week, host South Portland in a regional final rematch on Saturday the 21st, then meet rival Deering for the only time May 23.

“We know we have some tough games coming up,” Archambault said. “We need our pitching and all our aspects of our game to be good. We’re happy where we are and we’re looking forward to the second half. We know we’ll have a bulls-eye. We know we’ll get Lambert. We know we’ll get SoPo’s best. We know we’ll get Cheverus’ best. We want to prove we’re the best and we’re looking forward to matching up with those teams.”

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Marzilli. “I can’t wait to play those teams.”

“The kids are funny, I had Cheverus circled, but they don’t,” Rutherford added. “They feel every team means the same. We don’t get too high or too low.We’ve played eight games and we’ve won eight, so we’re playing with confidence. We look forward to Cheverus, Thornton Academy, Deering and South Portland. It’ll be fun.”

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

Portland senior starter Dan Marzilli winds up. Marzilli improved to 4-0 with a five-hit shutout.

Portland senior first baseman John Williams makes contact.

Portland junior shortstop Jake Knop lines a hit.

Portland senior first baseman John Williams applies the tag on one of senior pitcher Dan Marzilli’s two fifth inning pickoff throws.

Portland junior shortstop Jake Knop beats out an infield hit.

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