Scarborough caps special regular season by beating Portland, earning bye

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Scarborough coach Mike D’Andrea and Portland coach Mike Rutherford meet at home plate prior to the game. Two of the state’s most accomplished coaches squared off in a high school game for the first time in eight years as D’Andrea’s Red Storm held off Rutherford’s Bulldogs, 4-3.

Vinny Marzilli photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 4 Portland 3

P-200 010 0- 3 5 1
S- 001 201 x- 4 9 2

Top 1st
Knop scored on error. Tocci scored on error. 

Bottom 3rd
Seymour singled to left, Lorello scored.

Bottom 4th
Caron grounded out to short, Pratt scored. Lorello singled to center, Welsh scored.

Top 5th
Fusco lined out to right, Knop scored.

Bottom 6th
Reed singled to left, Lorello scored. 

Repeat hitters:
S- Lorello, Pratt, Welsh

Runs:
P- Knop 2, Tocci 
S- Lorello 2, Pratt, Walsh

RBI:
P- Fusco
S- Caron, Lorello, Reed, Seymour

Doubles:
P- Tocci
S- Kelly, Lorello 

Stolen bases:
S- Lorello, Reed

Left on base:
P- 9
S- 9

Marzilli and King; Wedge and Welsh

P:
Marzilli (L, 5-2) 6 IP 9 H 4 R 3 ER 3 BB 8 K 2 WP 

S:
Wedge (W, 7-1) 7 IP 5 H 3 R 1 ER 6 BB 8 K 1 Balk  

Time: 2:02

SCARBOROUGH— What Portland’s baseball team was last spring, the Scarborough Red Storm have become.

A team that believes it’s special and is capable of winning games by any means necessary.

Tuesday afternoon at Packy McFarland Field, Portland became the latest victim of this year’s feel good story, as Scarborough capped a dream regular season with a par-for-course thrilling victory over the Bulldogs.

The game was billed as the first showdown between standout coaches Mike D’Andrea of Scarborough and Portland’s Mike Rutherford in eight years and under sweltering skies, it turned into a nailbiter.

The Bulldogs took advantage of three walks by Red Storm senior starter Mitchell Wedge and a pair of errors to score twice in the top of the first inning, as junior shortstop Jake Knop and junior second baseman Dom Tocci both crossed the plate.

Portland failed to break it open, however, and Scarborough got to senior pitcher Dan Marzilli in the bottom of the third, as senior shortstop Nick Lorello doubled, was wild pitched to third and scored on a two-out bloop single from freshman designated hitter Cam Seymour to cut the deficit in half.

In the bottom of the fourth, senior third baseman Matt Caron tied the score with an RBI ground ball and Lorello’s two-out single scored senior catcher Bayley Welsh for a 3-2 lead.

The Bulldogs answered in the fifth, as senior designated hitter Joey Fusco tied the score with a sacrifice fly, but in the bottom of the sixth, with two outs and two on and the runners on the move, senior first baseman Josh Reed hit an RBI single to score Lorello to put Scarborough ahead to stay.

Portland had a golden opportunity to answer in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs, but Wedge saved his best for last, fanning senior third baseman Jack Nichols, and the Red Storm prevailed, 4-3.

Wedge earned his seventh victory, Lorello, Pratt and Welsh all had two hits and Scarborough, a team completely unheralded at the season’s onset, finished the regular season 13-3, earned the No. 3 seed for the upcoming postseason and dropped the Bulldogs to 11-5 and relegated them to the No. 5 spot for the playoffs in the process.

“We could have gotten it handed to us early in the game today, but we dealt with adversity and we’ve done that all year,” said D’Andrea. “I’m thrilled with the outcome and the way the season has gone as far as our record. How can I not be pleasantly surprised with this group? I told them day one that we’d be a better team at the end of the season. Most teams should do that. We’re doing the little things well.”

D’Andrea vs. Rutherford

D’Andrea and Rutherford have long been recognized as two of the state’s best coaches. After an eight-year hiatus, the two met on the high school diamond again.

Both had great success in previous stints, D’Andrea leading Deering to seven Class A titles, and Rutherford winning a state title at Portland and producing several other top-notch squads, including teams which eliminated Deering from the 2005 and 2006 playoffs.

Tuesday, the old rivals met again, each skippering a top contender.

Scarborough opened with wins over host Sanford (8-3), visiting Noble (15-1, in five innings), host Marshwood (4-2), visiting Windham (2-1, in eight innings) and host Biddeford (4-3, in 11 innings). The Red Storm lost at home to Bonny Eagle, 3-1, but bounced back to win at Deering, 7-1, then rallied to edge visiting Massabesic, 4-3. After a 5-1 loss at South Portland, Scarborough beat visiting Cheverus, 6-4, host Westbrook, 10-1, and host Gorham, 6-2, then let a three-run lead slip away in a 5-4 home loss to Marshwood. After a 3-1 win at Windham, the Red Storm earned their biggest win to date Saturday, edging visiting Thornton Academy, 1-0.

The Bulldogs rallied to edge visiting Biddeford, 4-3, in the opener, then downed visiting Westbrook (6-2) and Gorham (14-8), won at Massabesic (6-3), Windham (3-2) and Noble (10-3), topped visiting Sanford, 7-1, and Marshwood (3-0), then won at Cheverus, 8-1. A 9-2 loss at Bonny Eagle was followed by a tough 5-4, nine-inning defeat at Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs then rallied for a dramatic 5-4, eight-inning home win over South Portland Following a 7-2 home loss to Deering, Portland beat visiting Massabesic, 8-1. Saturday, the Bulldogs suffered a frustrating 1-0 loss at Gorham.

The Bulldogs and Red Storm have established a pretty good rivalry of late. Three years ago, Portland shocked Scarborough in the quarterfinals. The last time the teams played in Scarborough, two years ago, the Red Storm prevailed, 7-5. Last spring, at Hadlock Field, the Bulldogs won, 3-0, to take an 8-7 all-time lead in the series (see sidebar, below).

Monday, on a tremendous 84-degree day, Scarborough turned to yet another dose of D’Andrea Magic to close the regular season in high style.

Portland got out to a fast start.

Wedge’s first seven pitches were out of the strike zone, as Knop walked on four pitches and Tocci got ahead 3-0. Wedge then threw a strike, but missed high on the next delivery for another walk. Senior first baseman John Williams chopped the ball to Lorello at short for what should have been at least one out, but Lorello’s flip to senior second baseman Morgan Pratt was wide and went into rightfield, allowing Knop to come home with the game’s first run. Tocci went to third and Williams reached safely at first. Williams then took off for second as Wedge stepped off. Again, Scarborough should have had an easy out, but Lorello couldn’t catch Wedge’s throw and as a result, Tocci scored and Williams was safe at second.

“I put that on myself,” Wedge said. “I can’t walk batters like that. I had to buckle down and let them hit it.” 

Wedge did buckle down and struck out junior centerfielder Nick Archambault looking, but he walked Fusco. Nichols struck out swinging and senior leftfielder Zack Fortin grounded out to Lorello unassisted to end the frame.

Portland had a 2-0 lead, but it could have been more.

“We had a man at second, nobody out and didn’t advance him,” Rutherford lamented. “That’s been the case all season.”

In the bottom half, Marzilli made quick work of the Red Storm, getting Lorello to line out to Archambault in center, junior centerfielder Tim Carion to chase strike three and Reed to bounce out to Knop at short.

Wedge returned to form in the second.

Catcher Cam King lined out to third leading off. Senior rightfielder George Chaison-Lapine then grounded to third, where Caron momentarily juggled the ball, then threw out the runner. Knop reached on a two-out single up the middle, but with Tocci at the plate, Scarborough guessed right, pitched out and with Knop running, Welsh easily threw him out to retire the side.

Marzilli  started strong in the bottom half, getting freshman designated hitter Cam Seymour to ground weakly to second and sophomore leftfielder Connor Kelly to chase a high pitch for strike three, but Pratt drew a walk. Welsh then singled to right-center and Pratt moved to third. On the play, Knop almost picked Welsh off trying to get back to first, but Welsh dove and eluded the tag of Williams to keep the inning alive for senior rightfielder Jack Hughes, who looked at strike three to end the threat.

Wedge started the third by striking out Tocci looking. Junior Thomas Joyce then hit for Williams and chased strike three. Archambault ended the frame with a sharp grounder to Caron at third.

In the bottom half, Caron struck out, but Lorello’s bouncer down the first base line eluded Joyce, who had replaced Williams, and Lorello got to second with a double. With Carion at the plate, a wild pitch put Lorello at third, but Marzilli got Carion to pop to Knop in shallow leftfield (the runner had to hold). After walking Reed on four pitches, Marzilli got Seymour to  fly to left-center, but a sprawling Fortin couldn’t cleanly come up with the ball and the bloop single brought home Lorello to get Scarborough on the board. Kelly came up with runners at first and second, but he got unlucky, as his grounder, which appeared ticketed to center for a game-tying RBI single, was deflected by Marzilli right to Knop at second and Knop recorded the force out to keep Portland ahead.

In the fourth, the Bulldogs tried to produce some two-out magic. After a terrific play by Lorello in the hole (a sliding stab and strong throw) retired Fusco leading off and Nichols lined out to right, Fortin beat out a high chopper over second and King singled to center to put runners and first and second. That set the stage for Chaison-Lapine, who hit a sharp grounder up the middle, but Lorello got there, fielded the ball and stepped on second to keep it a one-run game.

Scarborough grabbed the lead in the bottom half.

Consecutive singles by Pratt (to right-center) and Welsh (to right) put runners at first and second. Then, after Hughes sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Caron grounded slowly to Knop at second, who had to throw to first as Pratt crossed the plate to make it 2-2. With Welsh at third, Lorello then came up huge with a clutch single up the middle, just to the right of Tocci, and Welsh easily scored the go-ahead run. After Lorello stole second, Marzilli finally ended the frame by getting Carion to look at strike three.

The top of the Bulldogs’ order answered in the fifth.

Knop led off with a great at-bat, earning a walk on a full count pitch. Wedge then balked him to second. After Tocci struck out swinging, Joyce walked and a wild pitch moved Knop to third and Williams, who came back into the game to run, at second. Archambault walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Fusco, who lined the ball to right and Knop came in to tie the score. Nichols’ bid for a go-ahead hit resulted in a sharp grounder to Lorello, who threw to Pratt for the force to send the game to the bottom of the fifth.

There, the Red Storm threatened, but couldn’t retake the lead.

Leading off, Reed walked, but senior pinch-runner John Timpson was picked off by Marzilli (with Williams, who re-entered at first base throwing to Knop for the out). After Seymour struck out swinging, Kelly lined a double to center, which a diving Archambault got a glove on with a nice dive, but couldn’t corral it and he was shaken up on the play (he stayed in the game). Pratt then grounded an infield single up the middle to put runners at the corners, but Welsh hit a grounder to Nichols to third and his throw beat Welsh by a step to send the game to the sixth.

Where Wedge set Portland down in order, getting Fortin to ground out to third, King to chase strike three in the dirt (Welsh applied to the tag) and Chaison-Lapine to pop to short.

In the bottom half, the hosts got a break when Hughes struck out, but the third strike was in the dirt and got past King to the backstop, allowing Hughes to reach safely. Caron’s sacrifice attempt resulted in a pop up to Tocci for the first out. Lorello then hit the ball to Williams at first, who threw to Knop for the force. Williams took the return throw too, but couldnj’t get to the bag in time to end the inning with the double play and that proved costly, as Carion’s ground ball to second resulted in an error and with the runners going, Reed again came up huge, grounding the ball past Nichols, who was on the move, into left and Lorello scored easily for the lead, as Carion came to third.

“It wasn’t a hit-and-run,” Reed said. “I just saw the pitch and swung. I hit it well, so I thought it would slide by. It felt good.” 

“I feel like our hitting is probably the area we’re most improved in,” Wedge said. “We strung hits together. We’re getting timely hits. That was just a really good call by Coach D’Andrea and Josh came through for us.”

“Did I know he’d hit it to third? D’Andrea added. “No, but I was trying to get them to move and make something happen. Sometimes you sit around and wait, but it’s difficult to do that. Fortunately for us, we had the ball hit in the hole where we needed it.” 

Rutherford said that the ball never should have gotten through.

“We had a mental error,” he said. “Mike always runs with two outs and our third baseman knew that. He was supposed to hold his position, but he moved on a routine ground ball.”

Reed stole second, but Seymour struck out swinging, sending the game to the seventh.

Where Portland had an ample chance to pull even or take the lead, but couldn’t get the key hit.

Knop hit the ball sharply leading off, but he lined out to Pratt. Tocci then lofted a ball down the leftfield line which Hughes dove for, but the ball went off his glove and rolled away, allowing Tocci to reach with a double. Williams hit a grounder to Caron’s left and beat it out for an infield single, setting the stage for Archambault, who struck out swinging, leaving the game in Fusco’s hands. Fusco was hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting the stage for Nichols, but Wedge saved his best for the game’s last batter, striking him out swinging and 2 hours and 2 minutes after the game started, Scarborough celebrated a stirring 4-3 victory.

“I was a little worried, you have to be, but I was confident in my defense, since they always come through for me, and in myself, that I could get it done,” Wedge said. “This isn’t a surprise to me. It’s a senior-heavy team and we’ve played baseball together for years. We knew we’d have a chance. Coach makes it so different in practice. A lot more intensity. It’s the little things like stealing bases, pickoffs, the little things.”

“I was confident (Mitch would) get out of it,” Reed said. “He saved his best for last. Mitch let up two early runs and battled back and we kept our composure. We had faith in each other. We wanted to put the ball in play and make them play defense.”

“That was the first time I’ve seen (Mitch) pump his fist after a strikeout this year,” D’Andrea added. “He’s growing as a competitor. I don’t care about his other starts, that last out was what I need from him. That’s what he needs to grow as a pitcher. He’s competed all year for us and that’s all I’ve asked him to do.”

Wedge improved to 7-1 after allowing three runs (just one earned) on five hits in seven innings. He walked six and balked once, but struck out eight.

Offensively, the Red Storm got multiple hits from Lorello, Pratt and Welsh, two runs from Lorello and one apiece from Pratt and Welsh and RBI from Caron, Lorello, Reed and Seymour. Lorello and Reed had stolen bases.

Scarborough stranded nine runners.

It didn’t figure into the box score, but D’Andrea felt that Welsh’s defense was a huge reason for the victory.

“Bayley was our MVP today,” D’Andrea said. “He kept the ball in front of him, blocked it with runners on. He’s picking 56-foot curveballs out of the dirt.”

Quiet bats

Portland got two runs from Knop and another from Tocci. Fusco had the lone RBI. The Bulldogs stranded nine runners.

Marzilli fell to 5-2 after giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits in six innings. He walked three, threw two wild pitches and fanned eight.

“We’re playing not to lose,” Rutherford said. “The difference between Scarborough and Portland right now is they’re us from last year right now. They’re playing above themselves. They play to win. We’re sitting back and hoping not to lose instead of trying to win. If you play not to lose, you have to make every play. Our pitching and defense have been good. We’re just not getting hitting. They gave us two runs and the other run, we had to get a sac fly to get that.”

Anyone can win it

While the Class A South Heal Points aren’t yet final, Portland expects to be the No. 5 seed and will host a preliminary round game Monday at 7 p.m. at Hadlock Field, likely against Kennebunk. The Bulldogs don’t play the Rams in the regular season.

“We’ll have to have a five-game win streak to win it all instead of a four-game win streak,” Rutherford said. “There are six or seven teams who can win it. Every game will be 3-2 or 4-3. We have to have confidence to win. We have to do what we did last year, play not to lose. We’ve lost three tight games. TA, Gorham and this one. If we won them, we’d be No. 2 in the Heals. We better change it or it’s going to be a quick postseason.”

Scarborough will be third in Class A South and will host a quarterfinal next Thursday. The Red Storm will likely face Gorham or Massabesic. Scarborough beat both squads this spring and believes that its unique brand of magic can continue right through the state final June 18.

“We have to keep practicing hard and playing hard,” Wedge said. “We think we can beat anyone in the playoffs.”

“This gives us confidence we can beat any team in the league,” Reed said. “We’ve had good coaching and all the players want it this year. We grind it out in practice. We don’t want this to end any time soon.”

“We’re in the running,” D’Andrea added. “It’s so wide open this year. I feel like anybody can make a run. There are some top tier teams and a bunch of second tier teams who could do damage on a given day. The team that plays clean baseball in the playoffs will be fine.”

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

Scarborough senior starting pitcher Mitchell Wedge throws to the plate. Wedge went the distance to earn the victory.

Portland senior pitcher Dan Marzilli delivers to the plate. Marzilli suffered his second loss.

Scarborough senior shortstop Nick Lorello prepares to tag out Portland junior Jake Knop on a steal attempt in the second inning.

Scarborough sophomore Morgan Pratt gets back to first base safely as 
Portland junior first baseman Tonmy Joyce takes the throw. 

Scarborough senior Nick Lorello steals second in the fourth inning as Portland junior shortstop Jake Knop takes the throw.

Scarborough senior Josh Reed takes a lead off first base. Reed delivered the game-winning RBI single in the sixth inning.

Scarborough senior Nick Lorello takes a swing.

Previous Scarborough-Portland results

2015
@ Portland 3 Scarborough 0 

2014
@ Scarborough 7 Portland 5 

2013
Scarborough 9 @ Portland 2
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 5 @ Scarborough 4

2012
Scarborough 5 @ Portland 3
@ Scarborough 5 Portland 1

2011
@ Portland 6 Scarborough 1

2010
@ Scarborough 8 Portland 1

2009
Scarborough 1 @ Portland 0

2008
@ Scarborough 7 Portland 5
Western A preliminary round
@ Portland 5 Scarborough 4 (9)

2007
@ Portland 4 Scarborough 0

2006
Portland 4 @ Scarborough 0

2005
@ Portland 27 Scarborough 0 (5)

2004
Portland 15 @ Scarborough 1 (5)

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