PORTLAND—Cheverus’ baseball team has suffered some tough losses this spring, but every time the Stags have gone down to defeat, each time by one run, they’ve found a way to bounce right back with a victory.
Tuesday afternoon at Kevin McDonald Memorial Field, three days after a one-run setback at Biddeford, Cheverus did it again.
The Stags took a 5-0 lead against visiting Bonny Eagle, but in the top of the third, Cheverus senior Alex Libby, who usually slams the door on the opposition, gave up five two-out runs and suddenly the game was deadlocked, but in a microcosm of their season, the Stags responded.
An error opened the door in the bottom of the fourth and Cheverus managed to push across three runs to retake the lead.
This time, Libby didn’t allow the Scots to answer and senior Matt Gedaro came on in relief to close it out as the Stags went on to an 8-5 victory.
Libby improved to 3-0, Gedaro earned his first save and sophomore catcher Logan McCarthy had a single, double and triple, scored twice and drove in two runs as Cheverus improved to 7-3, dropping Bonny Eagle to 7-4 in the process.
“We have heart,” Gedaro said. “We play for the team. It’s all about the name on the chest. They put up a fight and that’s what we expected. We were determined to come back and win the game and that’s what we did today.”
Cheverus has played its share of entertaining contests this spring, including multiple contests which have gone to extra innings. The Stags opened with a 4-3 home win over Biddeford, in nine innings, then, after prevailing in regulation at Bonny Eagle (8-3), needed 11 innings to win at Sanford (4-3). After falling in nine innings at Westbrook, 4-3, Cheverus won with relative ease at home over Scarborough (7-1), then dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker at South Portland. After downing visiting Noble (5-0) and Thornton Academy (3-1), the Stags fell at Biddeford Saturday, 3-2.
Bonny Eagle won its first two games, 4-2 at Massabesic and 4-1 over visiting Sanford, then lost at home to Cheverus, 8-3. After a 2-1 win at Noble, the Scots dropped a 12-4 decision at Thornton Academy. Bonny Eagle beat visiting Gorham, 6-4, then fell at home to Deering, 5-3. The Scots then won three in a row: 11-4 at Windham, 7-3 over visiting Biddeford and 6-4 over visiting Sanford.
Bonny Eagle came to Cheverus hoping to snap a six-game losing streak at the hands of the Stags. The Scots last beat Cheverus May 11, 2010 (6-3 in Portland).
Tuesday’s game appeared in jeopardy in the morning when it rained, but the skies cleared and the field was playable and an exciting game with a lot of hitting ensued.
Libby quickly retired the first two hitters he faced, getting junior catcher Dana McKay to pop out to second base and junior second baseman Cam Robinson to ground out to second, but senior shortstop Devin Butler crushed a ball to the hill in deep left-centerfield for a double. Libby got out of the jam by striking out junior leftfielder Drake Laughlin.
In the bottom half, against Bonny Eagle junior starter Troy Bogdahn, the Stags took the lead.
Leading off, McCarthy doubled over the head of senior centerfielder Lane Poirier. Libby lined out to center, but junior third baseman Jensen Lapoint singled to center (McCarthy stopped at third and Lapoint took second on the throw home) and sophomore first baseman Jared Brooks grounded out to short with McCarthy coming home to make it 1-0. Junior designated hitter Chris Vallee then popped out to short.
Libby dazzled in the top of the second, striking out senior first baseman Max Salevsky, senior designated hitter Mat Bridges and junior third baseman Noah Scribner.
Cheverus seemingly broke the game open in the bottom of the second, scoring four times on five hits.
Junior rightfielder Jack Whaley lined out to short, but sophomore second baseman Jack Casale reached on an infield single, senior centerfielder Derek Hammond singled into the hole between shortstop and third base and senior leftfielder Chris Billings singled to center, scoring Casale. McCarthy then ripped a triple over the head of senior rightfielder Justin Miles, bringing home Hammond and Billings.
“I just tried to jump on the first pitch,” said McCarthy. “(Bogdahn) was throwing first-pitch strikes and we had to jump on those.”
Libby then singled to right to score McCarthy and the Stags were on top, 5-0. Lapoint reached on an error, but Bogdahn escaped further damage by getting Brooks to fly to center and Vallee to line out to center.
But just when it appeared Cheverus had a healthy lead, back roared the Scots in the third.
Libby struck out Bogdahn to start the frame, but senior Lane Poirier singled to left and McKay did the same. After a double steal, Robinson popped to short, but Butler walked to load the bases and Laughlin came through with a double to center, scoring all three runners. Salevsky followed with a single to right bringing home Laughlin. Bridges blooped a single to right and a bloop double to center by Scribner scored Salevsky to tie the score. With Bonny Eagle on the verge of taking the lead, Libby started the frame the way it began, by striking out Bogdahn, this time looking.
Regardless, Bonny Eagle had pushed across five runs on six hits to make it 5-5.
The Stags went quietly in their half, as Whaley lined to left, Casale grounded out to second and Hammond popped out to second.
Libby restored order in the fourth, getting Poirier to line to center, catching McKay looking at strike three and getting Robinson to line out to center.
Cheverus took advantage of an error to start the bottom half and went on top to stay.
Hammond grounded to Butler, but Butler’s throw sailed over the head of Salevsky and the ball went out of play, allowing Hammond to go to second base. After McCarthy blooped a single to right to put runners at the corners, Libby grounded to Robinson at second, who threw to Butler for the force out, but Hammond scored for a 6-5 lead. After Butler made a nice play to throw out Lapoint, Brooks kept the inning going with a ground rule double to right-center, scoring Libby. Vallee then singled down the leftfield line to score Brooks and even though Whaley lined out to second, the Stags had an 8-5 advantage.
Libby gave up an infield single to Butler in the fifth, but picked him off. Laughlin grounded back to the mound on a checked swing and after Salevsky walked, Bridges struck out.
Casale led off the bottom half with a bloop single to center and Hammond rapped a single to left, but Billings popped out to second, McCarthy (who had a chance to hit for the cycle had he homered) flew out to center and Libby grounded back to the mound.
Bonny Eagle had a chance to rally in the sixth, but failed to do so.
After freshman Christian Napolitano led off with a solid single to center, Libby was pulled in favor of Gedaro. Gedaro got Bogdahn to ground into a force out, then allowed a single to Poirier. After getting McKay to line out back to the mound, Gedaro walked Robinson to load the bases, but he bore down and got Butler to hit the ball back at him, knocked the ball down, then threw to Brooks to end the uprising.
Cheverus went quietly in the bottom of the inning, as Lapoint grounded out to third, Brooks struck out looking and after Vallee singled, sophomore Rylan Benedict looked at strike three.
Even though Hammond was warming up between innings, Gedaro closed it out in the seventh.
Leading off, Laughlin looked at strike three. Salevsky drew a walk, but Bridges hit into a force and Gedaro fanned Napolitano to end it.
“All of our losses have been by one run, but I have to give the guys credit for their resiliency,” said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “It’s been there. Bonny Eagle needed a signature win because they’re behind us in the Heals. They battled, but we swung the bats. It’s the best we’ve swung the bats all year. It came at a good time. Hopefully we found the formula.”
Libby improved to 3-0 after giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks in five-plus innings. Libby struck out eight.
“Libby’s had a great year, but that’s the most he’s been hit around,” McKew said. “He wasn’t as sharp today. His ball was up, but he got it done.”
Gedaro earned his first save after throwing two scoreless innings. He surrendered a hit and two walks and fanned two.
“I wanted the ball and I got it,” Gedaro said. “My curveball worked at the end. I was thankful I got the last out. I have faith in my teammates. I put the ball where I needed to put it. If they hit it, I believe in my defense. Defense wins championships and that’s what we believe.”
“(Matt) was throwing strikes,” McCarthy said. “He came in and got the job done. That’s his role.”
Offensively, Cheverus managed 13 hits, as McCarthy had three and Casale, Hammond and Vallee each had two. Billings and McCarthy both scored twice, while Brooks, Casale, Hammond and Libby all touched home once. Brooks. Libby and McCarthy all had two RBI, while Billings and Vallee both had one. The Stags left seven runners on base.
Bogdahn went the distance, but fell to 4-1 after giving up eight runs (five earned) on 13 hits in six innings. He struck out two.
Bonny Eagle got two hits apiece from Butler and Poirier. Butler, Laughlin, McKay, Poirier and Salevsky all scored runs. Laughlin had three RBI, while Salevsky and Scribner each drove in a run. The Scots left eight runners on.
Bonny Eagle (12th in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) is back in action Thursday when preseason favorite Marshwood pays a visit. The Scots go to South Portland, then host Scarborough, visit Portland and close the regular season with a home game versus Westbrook.
Cheverus (sixth in the Heals) has a city battle versus visiting Deering Thursday. After welcoming Massabesic Friday, the Stags play at Portland and Gorham and host defending regional champion Windham next week, then close June 3 at Marshwood.
“We just need to play defense and pitch,” Gedaro said. “Runs will come. If you can’t play defense and you can’t pitch, you’re not going to win.”
“We’re all in this together,” said McCarthy. “We believe we can compete with anybody. We have a high energy level and can come up with clutch hits.”
“We’re on to the next game,” McKew added. “It’s a big week for us with Deering and Massabesic. There are no gimmies in this league. We’ll keep going and play June Madness this year. It would be nice to skip a prelim, but at the same time, I feel like our pitching depth as probably the best in the league. I really like our pitching.”
Cheverus sophomore catcher Logan McCarthy rips one of his three hits. McCarthy singled, doubled and tripled in the win.
Cheverus junior Jensen Lapoint dives into second base.
Cheverus sophomore second baseman Jack Casale snares the ball.
Cheverus sophomore Jared Brooks takes a swing.
Cheverus senior Chris Billings dives safely into home.
Cheverus senior starter Alex Libby throws a pitch.
Cheverus senior Matt Gedaro closes out the win.
Cheverus’ baseball team celebrates its 8-5 win over Bonny Eagle Tuesday.
Jim Allen photos.
More photos below.