Postseason comes to sudden end for city teams

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Kennebunk and Portland-Falmouth baseball, Portland-Marshwood and Portland-Scarborough softball, Cheverus-Deering boys’ lacrosse and Waynflete-Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse game stories, see theforecaster.net)

The drama was plentiful, but in the end, unless you were the Waynflete boys’ tennis team, disappointment was the theme for city squads this spring.

Three baseball, one softball, three boys’ lacrosse and three girls’ lacrosse squads entered the postseason, but they all had been eliminated by Saturday.

Here’s a glimpse at what happened last week on the diamonds, the fields and for a select few, the track:

Baseball

Portland’s baseball team made a run to the regional final in 2014 and entered this spring as one of the favorites. The Bulldogs were up-and-down in the regular season and wound up with the fifth seed in Class A, then eliminated No. 12 Kennebunk, 12-3, in the preliminary round last Monday at Hadlock Field.

Portland gave up a pair of unearned runs early, but the Bulldogs got their bats going in the bottom of the second, as Zach Fortin hit an RBI single, Jake Knop ripped a two-run triple to put Portland on top to stay and a sacrifice fly from Nick Archambault made it 4-2.

The Rams got another unearned run in the fourth, but the Bulldogs broke the game open with five runs in the bottom half, thanks to an RBI ground out by Joey Fusco, a RBI single from Tommy Joyce, an RBI double from starting pitcher Charles Barnard and a two-run single from Fortin to make it 9-3.

Portland ended all doubt with three more runs in the fifth, as Archambault crushed an RBI triple, John Williams hit an RBI double, Williams scored on a wild pitch and the Bulldogs went on to the victory.

“Once one guy got a timely, clutch hit, the rest of us can hit and that’s exactly what happened today,” said Archambault. “I’m glad we got it going. I was looking at the scoreboard and saw we had 15 hits. It was contagious.”

“We hit to all parts of the park and once we got rolling, there was no stopping us,” Knop said. “Playoffs is a whole new deal. We’re trying to forget about the regular season.”

“All year, we haven’t put teams away,” added Portland coach Mike Rutherford. It’s wasn’t a coach’s ‘rah rah’ talk, someone had to come out and get a hit. It’s not a lack of batting practice, it was someone coming up in the clutch.”

The Bulldogs went to No. 4 Thornton Academy for the quarterfinals Thursday and reversed a painful one-run loss from the regular season with a 1-0 victory behind a one-hit gem from pitcher Dan Marzilli and Barnard’s pinch-hit RBI single which plated Williams.

Saturday, Portland’s offensive well ran dry, as it managed just one hit (a squibber from Williams), struck out 12 times and lost, 5-0, at top-ranked Falmouth in the semifinals to finish the season 13-6.

“When you get one ball out of the infield and get one infield hit and strike out 12 times, what can you do?” Rutherford lamented. “We got beat by a better pitcher today.”

The Bulldogs will be hard-hit by graduation, as 12 seniors depart.

“When I see the seniors down the road, what I’ll remember about them is that they brought Portland back to relevancy,” Rutherford said. “The old Portland teams were always in the final four, competing for a championship. I congratulate the seniors for getting us back. We just got beaten by a better team.”

Despite the roster turnover, the 2017 Bulldogs should be right back in contention.

“We have some young kids ready,” Rutherford said. “Our freshman team was undefeated. We have really good talent in the pipeline. We’ll be a different team. We won’t be ranked number one, but I think by the end of the year, we’ll be relevant.”

Deering wound up eighth in Class A South and Cheverus earned the No. 9 seed, necessitating a preliminary round showdown. That game was supposed to come Tuesday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, but after it got under way, inclement weather moved the contest to Wednesday.

There, the Stags jumped to a 3-0 first inning lead, as freshman Tre Fletcher drove in a pair of runs and Logan McCarthy brought home another. The Rams answered with a three-spot in the third. Deering went ahead in the sixth, but down to its final out, Cheverus tied the score in the seventh and forced extra innings. There, in the bottom of the eighth, Pat Viola won it with an RBI single, scoring Ian Westphal (who had three hits), and the Rams prevailed, 5-4, to beat the Stags in the playoffs for the second straight season.

Cheverus got multiple hits from Fletcher, Jared Brooks and Griffin Watson, but fell short and finished 10-7.

“It’s always nice to have double digit wins, however on the whole, the 2016 team underachieved,” said Stags coach Mac McKew. “Although we finished third in the SMAA in team defense, our defense was ultimately our Achilles’ Heel. That issue exposed itself in our playoff game, as three of the five runs we gave up there were unearned. As we all know, championship-caliber teams in any sport play solid, steady defense. All we can do is learn from these adversities and get better and that is what we will do in 2017.”

Graduation will take its toll on the program, but Cheverus should again be in the hunt next year.

“We have four varsity starters returning in Jared Brooks, Jack Casale, Logan McCarthy and Griffin Watson,” McKew said. “We also received solid contributions from Cam Dube and Justin Ray and their roles will certainly expand in 2017. Our sub-varsity teams had solid seasons and we will certainly look for some of those players to make impacts on the varsity next spring.”

Deering went on to face top-ranked Falmouth in the quarterfinals Thursday and only mustered one hit in a 4-0 loss, which ended its season at 10-8.

“The Falmouth game was well played on both sides,” said Rams coach Josh Stowell. “(Yachtsmen starter Cam) Guarino threw a gem and kept our hitters off-balance, mixing his pitches for strikes. He had command of the strike zone, getting ahead of almost every hitter throughout the game. We tried to change his rhythm to help us out, but he was unfazed. They strung a few well-placed balls together off of our starter, James Sinclair, but he basically held them in check the rest of the way. I wish we could have put a little more pressure on Falmouth and their defense. Sinclair did everything he could to help us win that game. He threw the ball well and hit several balls hard at the plate. He’s a player that has gone undervalued and underappreciated by most of the league, his best days are ahead of him.

“Our season as whole this year was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. We had some good quality wins, a few walk-off victories and a couple of letdowns. We have a great group of contributing seniors that will be leaving who will be greatly missed. We also had a strong nucleus of juniors on this year’s club, including our entire pitching staff. We should be able to build on their success this year and work in some of the developing underclass talent as well.

“I’m excited for next season, myself and the players are looking to improve on this year and advance further in the playoffs with the hope of achieving the ultimate goal of a state championship.”

Softball

Portland’s softball team stole headlines this season, posting a winning record for the first time in a decade and making the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Monday, the Bulldogs hosted a postseason game for the first time since 2005 and was it ever worth the wait, as they rallied to down Marshwood in a thrilling preliminary round tilt.

Portland, ranked eighth, took a 1-0 lead when Kitara Rosmus singled home Annie Twombly in the third inning, but the ninth-seeded Hawks tied the game in the fifth, then went ahead with a run in the sixth. The Bulldogs came to bat in the bottom of the seventh still down a run, but rallied to extend the game and their season, as Morgan Boyle scored on pitcher Jess Brown’s fielder choice. Then, after Brown set Marshwood down in the top of the eighth, Taylor Crosby led off the bottom half with a booming triple and when Gianna Gaudet lined a shot off the Hawks pitcher, Crosby raced home with the winning run as Portland prevailed, 3-2.

“We weren’t ready to let it end,” Crosby said. “We all knew what we had to do. We just knew, We all want it so much. Last year, we were coming together and getting together. This year, we have the missing pieces and we’re there.”

“It’s been a fairy tale season, but it’s all reality,” Brown said. “It’s so huge. It feels amazing.”

“Holy moly!” added Bulldogs coach Robbie Ferrante. “I thought we had it a couple times, then I thought we let it slip away. We haven’t done things easily, but we don’t quit. The kids just have a lot of confidence. They’re playing loose, which I like. They just go and play.”

Portland’s run ended Thursday with a 12-0, six-inning loss at top-ranked Scarborough in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs didn’t produce a baserunner and finished 10-8.

“It’s a big learning process for our girls and hopefully we learned,” Ferrante said. The girls will be alright. They worked hard and it paid off. I had a lot of fun this year. This is a good group to be around.”

Portland loses Gaudet, Isabelle DiMillo and Anna Freund to graduation, but everyone else returns, meaning the Bulldogs shouldn’t be a one-hit wonder.

They want to build on what they accomplished in 2016.

“We have a nice foundation for next year,” Ferrante said. “Hopefully we’ll get back here. We’ll keep plugging.”

Boys’ lacrosse

Cheverus and Deering’s boys’ lacrosse teams squared off in a Class A North boys’ quarterfinal last Wednesday where the Stags, ranked fourth, got everything they could handle before holding on and prevailing over the fifth-ranked Rams.

Cheverus got off to a sizzling start, as three goals from Marco Giancotti and five saves from goalie Sean Walsh helped produce a 6-2 lead after one quarter. Deering then dominated the second period, blanking Cheverus and getting three goals from Nate Richards to make it a 6-6 contest at halftime.

But midway through the third quarter, Giancotti ended a 20-plus minute scoring drought to put the Stags ahead to say and Mackenzie Hoglund added a goal for an 8-6 advantage. In the first minute of the final period, Giancotti and Michael Hatch scored to seemingly put the game away, but Deering twice cut the deficit to two, the final time when Max Hornblower scored with 3:08 remaining. Walsh and his defense refused to allow the Rams to complete the comeback, however, and the Stags went on to an 11-9 victory.

Giancotti scored five goals and Walsh made 15 saves.

“We fed off our defense and the offense realized we had to put the ball in the net and we capitalized on our opportunities,” Giancotti said. “Beating Deering is pretty cool. We all expected a tough game like this.”

“The defense played lights out,” Walsh said. “They gave me good looks to make saves. It took us awhile to get into it. At halftime we made a few adjustments and got our rotation down and that’s why we played well in the third quarter. One of the big things we did today was we didn’t sulk. We came out and won the third quarter and that was big.”

“That was fun,” added Cheverus coach Bill Bodwell. “I’m very impressed with Deering’s coaching staff and their preparation for this game. They’ve gotten much better. They’re probably as strong as anybody right now.”

Deering’s offense was led by Andrew Johnson, who had four goals. Richards scored three times. Tanner Nussinow made 10 saves.

“We gave up six (goals) in the first quarter and there weren’t a whole lot of quarters this season that we gave up six,” Dubois said. “We made an adjustment and gave up only five the rest of the game. It was a little late. We made it 6-6, but we came up a bit short.

“This is the best group of kids I’ve ever had in terms of how they approach practice and the game. It’s been positive since day one. We’ve gotten rid of negative attitudes. We played with confidence. I couldn’t be more proud of this year’s seniors.”

The Rams should be right back in the mix in 2017.

“We’ll lose four kids, but hopefully we can build on this year,” said Dubois. “We’re losing our top three scorers, but hopefully we’ll find some guys to put the ball in the net.”

Cheverus then went to top-ranked Brunswick, the defending Class A champion, for the semifinals Saturday and despite taking an early 3-0 lead, went down to a 10-9 defeat, despite two goals apiece from Hatch and Pierce, as the season ended at 9-5.

Waynflete finished fourth in Class B South and earned the No. 4 seed for the playoffs. The Flyers handled visiting No. 5 Fryeburg Academy, 17-11, in the quarterfinals last Wednesday, as Hank Duvall and Will Nelligan both scored five goals.

Saturday, despite hanging tough for awhile, Waynflete was eliminated, 15-8, at top-ranked, three-time defending Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals. Cooper Chap had three goals as the Flyers finished the season 9-5.

“I was very pleased with our season,” said Waynflete coach Dan Thomsen. “At the beginning of the season, I never guessed that we would have played Cape Elizabeth 15-8 in a regional semifinal playoff game. Our only regular season losses came to Class A teams Gorham and Thornton and perennial Class B powerhouses Cape and Yarmouth.

“I am very proud of the guys, especially our seniors, who have dedicated their springs to the program for the past four years. We will have a hard time replacing our two standout close defensemen Will Lewis and Reilly Musgrave, our entire starting midfield, Pieter Stockmayer, Willy Burdick and Cooper Chap. and our top goal scorer, Will Nelligan, on attack.”

The Flyers hope to build on this year’s success in 2017.

“There are lots of holes to fill next year, but we’re excited to have rising juniors Will Armstrong in goal and Jon Veroneau and Makany Parr on defense,” Thomsen said. “Also, it will be great to have two playmakers and goal scorers back on attack, Hank Duvall and Miles Lipton.”

Girls’ lacrosse

Waynflete’s girls’ lacrosse team earned the No. 5 seed in Class B South and earned a dramatic 7-6 quarterfinal round win at No. 4 Lake Region last Wednesday. Nina Moore had three goals and Christian Rowe added a pair as the Flyers held on for dear life down the stretch, as longtime coach Cathie Connors beat her older brother, David Keenan, who coaches the Lakers.

That win sent Waynflete to top-ranked, undefeated, defending regional champion Kennebunk for the semifinals Saturday for the first playoff meeting between the rivals in a decade.

The Flyers hung tough in the first half, getting goals from Moore and Arianna Giguere to trail the prolific Rams by only one, but in the final 14 seconds, Kennebunk scored twice and it shut Waynflete out in the second and scored five more goals en route to a 10-2 victory which ended the Flyers’ season at 9-5.

“I’m so proud of how far the girls came this year,” said Connors. “They played as hard as they could until the end. They never got frustrated and worked together all the way through.”

The Flyers graduate Moore, Rowe, goalie Charlotte Majercik, Meddy Smith and Anne Veroneau.

“We’re losing five incredible seniors who played key positions,” Connors said. “They’re the most amazing leaders.”

Waynflete has gone three straight years without winning a championship for the first time, but the Flyers will be back in the title mix. Perhaps as soon as 2017.

“We have some good kids coming up and I think they’ll be ready,” Connors said. “I’m excited for next year.”

Deering, ranked sixth in Class A North, went to No. 3 Lewiston in the quarterfinals last Tuesday, and got early goals from Megan Violette and Alli Donovan, but the Blue Devils controlled play from there and prevailed, 14-5, to end the Rams’ season at 5-8, their best mark since 2008.

“We came out really strong,” Deering coach Aimee Burgos said. “The first two goals were by us and it was a hot day out. Some key players fell apart, so we weren’t playing full strength, I guess. That’s time for the rest of the team to step up and hold their own.

“This was the first time we (saw) the playoffs in eight years. Last year, we were 2-10. I couldn’t be more proud of them as a team.”

Cheverus, the eighth and final team to make the Class A North playoff field, was ousted by top-ranked Messalonskee, the defending regional champion, 13-4, in last Wednesday’s quarterfinals to finish 3-10.

Outdoor track

Several city athletes traveled to New Britain, Connecticut Saturday for the New England championships.

Cheverus’ Emily Turner, who won four events at the Class A state meet, came in fifth in the girls’ 400 (57.53 seconds) and 10th in the 200 (26.44). Teammate Emma White placed 15th in the long jump (16 feet, 7.75 inches). Emily Grinnell fouled and did not score in the discus. The Stags 4×400 relay team (Sophie Pompeo, Katelyn Gendron, White and Turner) finished 16th (4 minutes, 8.69 seconds) and the 4×100 squad (Gendron, Hannah Abbott, White and Sarah Mount) was 25th (53.15). Deering’s Annah Rossvall was 19th in the 300 hurdles (49.09).

On the boys’ side, Cheverus’ Luke Trickey was 15th in the 200 (23.06) and Christian Gilliam placed 22nd in the javelin (125-9). Deering’s Paolo DeMarco finished 14th in the 300 hurdles (40.55), Abdi Hassan failed to score in the 800, the 4×100 relay team (Jabari Washington, Ezra Chapola, Songha Loth and DeMarco) placed 13th (44.89) and the 4×400 relay squad (Chapola, Hassan, Gabe Luka and DeMarco) was 14th (3:28.51).

Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich contributed to this story.

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

Sidebar Elements


Portland rightfielder George Chaison-Lapine makes a sliding catch during the Bulldogs’ 5-0 loss at undefeated Falmouth in Saturday’s Class A South semifinal.

Waynflete senior Reilly Musgrave carries the ball during the Flyers’ 17-11 win over Fryeburg Academy in last week’s Class B South quarterfinal round. Waynflete was then eliminated by top-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals.

Portland junior Taylor Crosby is mobbed by her teammates after scoring the winning run in last Monday’s 3-2 (eight-inning) win over Marshwood in a Class A South preliminary round contest. The Bulldogs then were eliminated by defending regional champion Scarborough in the quarterfinals.

Deering sophomore Bryce Randall gets a step on Cheverus senior Mackenzie Hoglund during the teams’ Class A North quarterfinal last week. The Stags held on for an 11-9 victory.

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