Regular season winds down in Portland

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While it has felt like anything but summer around here, May is soon to give way to June, meaning the 2011 spring sports season is nearing its conclusion.

The track postseason begins Saturday and tennis’ playoffs commence next week. Baseball, softball and lacrosse teams only have a couple more chances to either get into the playoff picture or jockey for optimal positioning.

It ought to be a fun week.

Here’s a glimpse at where local teams stand:

Baseball

Cheverus began the week tied with Westbrook for the top spot in the Western Class A Heal Points standings after downing host Massabesic (14-4, in six innings) and Portland (8-0), in a game played at The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach. Senior Jack Bushey threw a three-hitter against the Mustangs and also doubled and singled, scoring three times and driving in a pair.

In the win over the Bulldogs, junior Louie DiStasio dominated, fanning a dozen in a one-hit shutout effort. Senior Joey Royer doubled four times and had two RBIs. Bushey and senior Nic Lops both had three hits and drove in a pair.

The Stags (10-1) had a home showdown with Deering Tuesday, visit Bonny Eagle Wednesday, host Windham Thursday, Scarborough Saturday, then close the regular season at Westbrook May 31.

Deering extended its win streak to eight games Friday with a 12-0 (five inning) triumph at Thornton Academy. Senior Jamie Ross got the win with a three-hit effort, fanning seven. Junior Nick DiBiase drove in four runs, while senior Matt Bevilacqua had three RBIs. Senior John Hardy added three hits and drove in two.

Saturday, however, in a highly-anticipated home showdown with undefeated Westbrook, the Rams fell to 9-2 with a 6-0 loss. Deering allowed two runs in the first, three more in the second and another in the fourth on a steal of home. The Rams were no-hit until the sixth inning when senior pinch-hitter Devon Fitzgerald singled to center, but could do nothing with Blue Blazes’ senior ace Scott Heath.

“We came out and made some mistakes in the first couple innings,” lamented Deering’s first-year coach Mark Sutton. “Once you get behind against Scott Heath, it’s very, very tough to come back. (The Blue Blazes) hit the ball well and played great defense.”

The loss was the Rams’ first by shutout since a 6-0 blanking by Portland in the Western A semifinals on June 12, 2006. Deering was last shut out in the regular season on May 20 of that year (4-0 to visiting Windham).

Deering (third in Western A) was at Cheverus Tuesday, goes to Scarborough Thursday, hosts Marshwood Saturday and welcomes South Portland May 31. The Rams also have to make up a game at Gorham.

“We have Cheverus, Scarborough, Marshwood and South Portland, but other than that, it’s easy,” Sutton joked. “(Westbrook) earned a lot of Heal Points today. We still have time.”

Portland has some work to do to make the playoffs after taking a 5-6 mark into the week. The Bulldogs were ninth in the standings as of press time, but only eight squads qualify for the postseason. Last week, Portland was an 8-0 loser to Cheverus, then snapped a three-game skid with a 12-5 home victory over Noble. In that one, sophomore Nick Volger had three hits and drove in three. He also pitched the last inning. Senior Rudy Dimillo got the win and had three hits, including a pair of doubles. Sophomore Caleb Fraser had three hits as well.

Portland played at Windham Tuesday, visits Westbrook Thursday and Gorham Saturday before closing at home versus Scarborough May 31. The Bulldogs also have to make up a game at Sanford.

In Western C, Waynflete continues to impress. The Flyers are 7-2 after beating visiting Traip, 7-2, Friday and splitting a doubleheader at home against North Yarmouth Academy Saturday (winning, 3-2, and losing, 14-8).

Against the Rangers, freshman Joey Schnier pitched five strong innings in his first varsity start and senior Alex Hadiaris got the save. Senior Noah Aronson executed squeeze bunts in consecutive at bats, drove in two runs and had two steals. In the victory over NYA, sophomore ace Charlie Laprade earned his fifth win and went 4-for-4 at the plate. Tom Ryan hit a game-tying two-run single and junior Mitch Newlin drove in the eventual winning run. Newlin homered twice in the nightcap and the Flyers were up 7-2 after five, but couldn’t hold on. Aronson, Laprade, Ryan and Schnier all had multiple hits.

Waynflete (second behind Dirigo in the Heals) went to Old Orchard Beach Wednesday, visits NYA Saturday and closes at home versus Sacopee May 31. The Flyers have guaranteed their first winning regular season since 1994.

Softball

McAuley’s softball team continued its triumphant high-wire act last week with a 12-0 (five inning) victory over Gorham and a 6-4 come-from-behind victory at Massabesic. Against the Rams, Jen Field threw a two-hitter and seniors Maura Esten and Sara Mercier, junior Kelsey Bryant and sophomores Molly Mack and Sam Schildroth all had multiple hits. The Lions were down, 4-3, entering the top of the seventh at the Mustangs, but rallied. Schildroth had a key triple and sophomore Gabby Townsend struck out nine to earn the win.

Friday, McAuley’s undefeated run finally came to an end with a 3-1 home loss to Thornton Academy, its first in 12 outings. The Lions left 10 runners on and only managed to score when a bases-loaded walk by Mercier brought Esten home.

“We had our chances, we just didn’t execute to our potential,” said Bryant, who reached base in every plate appearance, but failed to score. “(Thornton Academy’s) a very good team. We proved we can play with the top teams. We are one of the top teams. This was just an awakening.”

“A hit here or a hit there and we’re 12-0,” said McAuley coach Robby Ferrante. “I thought we had a few key kids up to bat and they couldn’t do it this time. We got two on in the seventh and I thought maybe we’d do it again. We don’t give up. We left 10 runners on base in a seven inning game. The kids still feel good because they know they can play. I’m proud of them as far as that goes.”

The Lions are on the verge of a program-record for regular season victories (last year and this year’s squads share the mark of 11) and seem quite capable of a postseason run.

“We really have to bring it to the next few teams if we want it,” said Bryant. “We’ve put in the training and time and effort that we can do it. We have to score first and we’ll have it.”

McAuley (second to defending Class A champion South Portland in the Western A Heal Points standings) was at Scarborough Monday night, hosts Biddeford Wednesday, plays at Portland Friday and closes at home versus South Portland May 31.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Ferrante added. “We’ll see where we stand. We still feel good about ourselves.”

The Lions will likely be the only city team to make the playoffs this spring.

Deering began the week 2-9 and 14th after losses at Noble (8-1) and at home to Marshwood (15-2, in five innings). The Rams visited Gorham Monday, play host to Massabesic Wednesday, Thornton Academy Thursday and Scarborough Saturday.

Cheverus was 1-10 and 15th after dropping a 6-1 home decision to Biddeford Friday.

“We are playing much better ball even though they are still losses, but we are having a blast,” said Cheverus coach Amy McMullin.

The Stags went to Portland Monday, host South Portland Wednesday and play at Scarborough and Bonny Eagle Saturday.

Portland was 0-11 and 17th after recent losses to host South Portland (14-2, in five innings) and visiting Kennebunk (18-0, in five). The Bulldogs were home versus Cheverus Monday, go to Bonny Eagle Wednesday, host McAuley Friday and finish at Sanford May 31.

Boys’ lacrosse

While Deering’s boys’ lacrosse team stole the local headlines with Friday’s home win over Portland (please see story), Cheverus and Waynflete have enjoyed recent victories.

The Stags are hoping to finish .500 and perhaps get into the playoffs. They easily defeated visiting Noble (15-4) and Windham (10-2) last week to improve to 4-6.  Against the Knights, Cheverus scored all of its goals in the first three periods as senior Evan Jendrasko scored four times and freshman Jimmy Talbott added three. In the win over the Eagles. sophomore Brent Green scored three times, while Jendrasko, senior Stephen Ambrose and junior Spencer Ambereson each had two goals. The Stags (seventh in the Eastern A Heals, where only six teams qualify) were at Bonny Eagle Tuesday and close the regular year at Gorham June 1.

In Western B, Waynflete began the week 8-2 and third in the Heals after recent wins over host York (13-12, in overtime) and Wells (12-3). Against the Wildcats, sophomore Jack Cutler was the hero, scoring the winner. Junior Chris Burke had five goals and senior Tucker Geoffroy added two goals and two assists, including the tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Senior Matt Butler had four goals against the Warriors. Burke added two.

The Flyers host NYA Wednesday and close at defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth May 31.

Girls’ lacrosse

On the girls’ side, the Waynflete juggernaut motors on and has the top spot in Western B all but sewn up. Last week, the Flyers had to sacrifice two home games to get them in due to the weather and instead of hosting regional rivals Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth, went to both schools’ turf fields.

Waynflete downed the Capers, 13-6, racing to an 8-1 halftime lead and fighting off a second half rally behind five goals from sophomore standout Martha Veroneau, four from senior Liv Chap and two (along with five assists) from sophomore Sadie Cole.

At the Yachtsmen, the Flyers trailed 4-1 early, but scored the game’s final five goals to win, 12-8. Veroneau’s unassisted tally with 16:49 to play put Waynflete ahead to stay and Chap added three to ensure the victory. Chap finished with four goals and three assists, while Veroneau had three goals and Cole and senior Mica Thompson two apiece. The Flyers (8-1)  went to NYA Tuesday for a state final rematch, play at York Wednesday and finish the regular season at Yarmouth June 1.

In Western A, McAuley fell to 4-4 last week after a 16-6 loss to South Portland. Taxia Arabatzis scored three times and Sadie DiPierro added two in the defeat. The Lions (11th in the Heals) went to Westbrook Monday and host Bonny Eagle Thursday.

In Eastern A, Portland is battling for a playoff spot, but started the week 5-4 and seventh in the Heals (only the top six teams qualify). Last Monday, the Bulldogs downed visiting Deering, 16-9, behind seven goals from sophomore Drew Barry.

“We had really good midfield transition today,” said Barry. “Running it seemed to work. We worked well together today. I was impressed. It’s always nice to beat Deering.”

“The girls love the crosstown rivalry,” said Portland coach Eric Wales. “Things have been going in a really good direction and are starting to come together.”

The Bulldogs go to Westbrook Wednesday, visit South Portland in a crucial game Thursday and close at home versus Marshwood May 31.

Deering bounced back from its loss to Portland (where senior Zahra Abu had a team-high four goals) with an exciting 12-11 home win over Bonny Eagle to improve to 3-6 (good for eighth).Veronica Mitchell had six goals. Lilly Worthley made 12 saves.

“We don’t give up,” said Rams coach Andrew Gordon. “We never have. The win over Bonny Eagle was a little surprise since they had previously beaten (Thornton Academy) and Portland. It confirmed my belief we’re better this year.”

Deering was home against South Portland Monday, hosts Lewiston Thursday and closes at home versus Massabesic Monday of next week.

Cheverus was 1-8 at the start of the week (good for 10th in the region). The Stags fell, 13-2, at Kennebunk in their most recent game, but haven’t given up.

“I’m pleased with how the kids have played,” said Cheverus coach Jamie Chamberlain. “The freshmen are getting confidence. We’ve been in every game. If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all. We’ve hit the post every game. We’ll keep plugging away and hopefully things will work out. We want to improve as much as we can. It’s a great group. They work well together. It’s amazing how they’ve clicked.”

The Stags went to Thornton Academy Monday and close at home against Gorham Thursday.

Track

Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland joined Gorham, South Portland, Westbrook and Windham at Scarborough for a meet Friday. Gorham was first in the boys’ meet. Cheverus placed fourth and Deering seventh. The host Red Storm were first on the girls’ side. The Stags came in second, the Rams seventh, Bulldogs eighth and Lions ninth.

Waynflete joined Fryeburg and Lake Region at Sacopee for a meet. The Flyers boys’ team came in third. The girls were fourth.

Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland compete in the Southern Maine Activities Association championship meet Saturday.

Waynflete travels to Falmouth for the Western Maine Conference championship meet Saturday.

Tennis

The tennis regular season is just about complete and most city teams will take part in the playoffs.

Entering Monday’s regular season finale at South Portland, the Cheverus girls were 11-0 and first in the Western A Heal Points standings. McAuley (10-1) was right behind in second. Portland (7-3) was fifth and Deering (6-4) would also make the postseason if it holds on to its seventh position.

In Western C, Waynflete was 7-4 and fourth in the Heals at the start of the week.

On the boys’ side, in Western A, Cheverus took a 10-1 mark and the second ranking in the Heals (behind Scarborough) into Monday’s home finale versus South Portland. Deering (6-3 and fifth) also appears playoff-bound. Portland (1-8 and 13th) will fall short.

In Western C, three-time defending state champion Waynflete was 6-4 and fifth in the standings heading into its final matches versus Freeport and Cape Elizabeth.

The quarterfinal round of the playoffs is scheduled for June 2, on the court of the higher seeds. The singles tournament resumes Friday in Lewiston, culminating in the championships Monday.

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

Sidebar Elements


Deering senior Sam Balzano hits the turf after making a tremendous running and diving catch Saturday during the Rams’ 6-0 home loss to Westbrook.

Deering’s junior pitcher Nick DiBiase throws a strike during Saturday’s game.

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