Scarborough edges TA for biggest win yet

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Scarborough senior pitcher Josh Reed is congratulated by his teammates after striking out the final batter in Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Thornton Academy. 

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 1 Thornton Academy 0

TA-  000 000 0- 0 3 1
S- 000 010 x- 1 7 2

Bottom 5th
Welsh flew out to center, Pratt scored. 

Repeat hitters:
TA- Chessie
S- Lorello

Run:
S- Pratt

RBI:
S- Welsh

Stolen bases:
S- Carion, Kelly, Pratt 

Left on base:
TA- 4
S- 5

Lambert and Hall; Reed and Welsh

TA:
Lambert (L, 5-1) 6 IP 7 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 7 K 

S:
Reed (W, 3-1) 7 IP 3 H 0 R 0 BB 5 K 

Time: 1:30 

SCARBOROUGH—The teacher was away, but the students have learned well and as a result, Scarborough’s feel-good baseball team continues to soar up the standings.

Saturday morning at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, the Red Storm hosted one of the league’s best teams, Thornton Academy, and its ace, one of the state’s finest pitchers, senior Ben Lambert, but even that wasn’t enough to slow the Scarborough Express.

The Red Storm were without the services of coach Mike D’Andrea, who has instilled belief and more victories than anyone realistically expected this spring. D’Andrea was out of town with his daughter at a softball tournament, but assistant coach Wes Ridlon and the Scarborough players used what D’Andrea has taught them to produce a signature victory.

Red Storm senior starter Josh Reed was stellar throughout, matching Lambert out for out.

The Golden Trojans had two hits, but didn’t score in the first, and Reed allowed just one hit the rest of the way.

Scarborough wasn’t able to produce any offense either, as it left runners at third in the first and second innings and went quietly in innings three and four.

Then, in the fifth, the Red Storm got the game’s lone run in typical small-ball style.

Sophomore second baseman Morgan Pratt led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on a single by senior third baseman Matt Caron. One out later, senior catcher Bayley Welsh came through in a big way, hitting a sacrifice fly to center to score Pratt for a 1-0 lead.

Thornton Academy took advantage of two Scarborough errors in the sixth to get a runner to second with none out, but the Red Storm escaped that jam and after Scarborough left the bases loaded in the bottom half, Reed set the Golden Trojans down 1-2-3 in the seventh to clinch the palpitating 1-0 victory.

Reed threw a three-hit shutout for his third win of the year, got plenty of defensive help along the way and Scarborough improved to 12-3, earned a ton of Heal Points and dropped Thornton Academy to 11-4 in the process.

“It’s a huge win,” Welsh said. “They’re obviously a very good team. It’s promising that we could come out and win this. Coach (D’Andrea) told us at the beginning of the year that we had to want it and today, we really wanted it.”

A thrill ride

Scarborough and Thornton Academy have been two of the best Class A South teams all spring.

The Golden Trojans won their first six games: 9-2 at Deering, 3-2 at home over Cheverus, 22-2 at Sanford, 4-0 at home over South Portland, 7-0 at Bonny Eagle and 16-4 at home over Noble. After a 5-1 loss at Westbrook, Thornton Academy beat visiting Windham (4-1), host Marshwood (8-2) and visiting Portland (5-4, in nine innings). After a 13-7 home loss to Gorham, the Golden Trojans rolled at rival Biddeford, 10-1. Wednesday, Thornton Academy lost at Cheverus, 4-3, but Thursday, the Golden Trojans bounced back to down visiting Sanford, 9-4.

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.

Last year, Thornton Academy won, 1-0, in Saco in the regular season finale and prevented the Red Storm from making the playoffs in the process.

Saturday, under sizzling 80-degree skies (at least at first pitch, the mercury soared to 84 at one point), Scarborough reversed last year’s frustrating result with its biggest victory of the season.

Lambert swung at the game’s first pitch and flew deep to junior centerfielder Tim Carion. Sophomore third baseman Brogan Searle-Belanger then grounded back to the mound on a full count pitch. The Golden Trojans would threaten, as freshman shortstop Luke Chessie singled to right and junior first baseman Evan Balzano chopped a single to right to put runners at the corners. Reed got ahead of junior designated hitter Adam Gibbons 0-2, threw a ball, then got him to drive the ball deep to center where Carion cradled it to end the frame.

Scarborough also threatened in its half of the first.

Senior shortstop Nick Lorello led off by lining a single off the glove of junior second baseman Chase Wescott for a single, but Carion grounded into a force out. Carion then stole second and after Reed struck out looking, freshman designated hitter Cam Seymour popped out to second to keep the game scoreless.

Carion started the top of the second with a nice running catch in right-center to deny junior catcher Brandon Hall extra bases. After Wescott looked at strike three, senior rightfielder Josh LePauloue grounded to the hole where Lorello snared the ball and made a nice throw across the diamond to retire the side.

Sophomore rightfielder Connor Kelley started the bottom half with a walk on a 3-1 pitch and stole second, but Pratt looked at strike three, Caron fanned swinging and Welsh lined softly to Balzano at first to end it.

Reed had another strong inning in the third.

After senior centerfielder Zack Ham flew out to center, Lambert got ahead in the count 3-0, but Reed battled back and got him to chase ball four on a 3-2 pitch for a strikeout. Searle-Belanger then flew to left-center where senior leftfielder Jack Hughes made the catch to retire the side.

Lambert was just as impressive in the bottom half, getting Hughes to hit a line drive that LePauloue had to run down near the rightfield line, Lorello to ground out back to the mound and Carion to hit a soft grounder to second.

Thornton Academy got the leadoff runner on in the fourth, but couldn’t bring him home, thanks to more strong defense from Scarborough.

Chessie led off with a single through the hole, but Balzano flew to center and with Gibbons striking out swinging, Chessie was gunned down trying to steal second by a strong throw from Welsh.

“Our defense has been great,” Pratt said. “We worked together well today.”

In the bottom half, Reed struck out looking, Seymour bounced back to the mound and Kelly took strike three.

Reed continued to excel in the fifth, getting Hall to pop out to first, Crockett to pop out to short and LePauloue to look at strike three.

The Red Storm then broke through in the bottom half.

Pratt got things started by drawing a walk and he stole second.

“We were trying to get what we could and advance runners and we made it work,” Pratt said. “Small ball is what we like to do. We had to delay steal.”

“It was a delay steal by design,” Ridlon said. “Morgan executed it perfectly.” 

Caron then singled sharply to center, but Pratt had to stop at third. Scarborough then tried to score the run with derring-do, as Caron took off for second and drew a throw, but this time, Hall was right on the money and Chessie applied the tag for the first out as Pratt stayed at third.

Welsh wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip away, however, as even though he fell behind in the count 1-2, he battled back, fouled off a couple pitches, then flew out to Ham in center. Ham’s throw into the infield was grabbed by Lambert, who threw to the plate, but it was too late as Pratt slid in with the game’s first run on the sacrifice fly. 

“I just tried to make contact to get the run in,” Welsh said. “I knew I wasn’t going to lose to him. I wouldn’t let it happen. It felt good.”

“I had confidence in Bayley,” Pratt said. “He’s been huge for us all year. I was going the whole way. I thought I’d make it. It felt good when I was safe.”

“I was very confident with Bayley up there” Ridlon added. “He’s swung the bat well all year. He’s a senior and one of our leaders.”

Hughes and Lorello singled to put runners back at the corners, but Lambert avoided further damage by getting Carion to fly deep to left.

Thornton Academy had a great chance to pull even in the sixth, but squandered it.

Leading off, Ham got ahead on the count, 3-0, then, after a strike, he popped the ball up high on the infield. Senior first baseman Taylor Cookson called Reed off and camped under the ball, but he dropped it and Ham reached safely. Welsh then compounded matters by trying to pick Ham off after the first pitch to Lambert, but he threw the ball wildly down the rightfield line and Ham went to second.

Lambert then crushed the ball to center, only to have Carion run it down. The Red Storm got a break, as Ham broke for third on contact and couldn’t get back to second to tag out. Searle-Belanger then hit a sharp grounder to the mound and Reed caught Ham breaking for third. He threw to Caron at third, who threw on to Lorello and Ham ran out of the baseline for the second out. Chessie then flew to right and Scarborough escaped the major scare.

In the bottom half, Reed struck out for the third time (swinging in this case, for the first time), but Seymour reached with a single when his pop up behind first resulted in a miscommunication between Chessie and Ham and the ball dropped safely. Kelly then singled through the hole and Pratt singled up the middle, loading the bases. Lambert kept the deficit at one, however, getting Caron to chase strike three and Welsh to fly out to right to end it.

Reed didn’t let Thornton Academy entertain any comeback hopes in the seventh. 

Balzano led off and grounded out to first with the pitcher covering on a 2-2 pitch. Senior Andrew Coleman pinch-hit for Gibbons and popped out to Pratt and at 12:37 p.m., Reed blew strike three past Hall to bring the curtain down on his 92-pitch, 90-minute gem, cementing Scarborough’s 1-0 victory.

“It’s a big win for us,” Pratt said. “It sends a big message to the rest of the league. We knew we could do this all season, but it lets everyone else know what we can do.”

“It means a lot,” Reed said. “We’ve always lost to them. I wanted this really bad. We were ready to play from the first pitch. Our defense was sharp and we put the bats on the ball.”

“That’s a great team over there,” Ridlon added. “They have one of the better pitchers in the league. He was around the plate all day, throwing strikes, but we executed our game plan and our kids delivered. We had guys work counts, get on base and we executed some stuff on the basepaths. I can’t say enough about what these kids have accomplished this year. We don’t ask the kids to play outside of themselves and just deliver when we need them to. If you want to be in the upper echelon, you have to win games like this and we did that today.”

Reed improved to 3-1 after throwing a three-hit shutout. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five.

“I tried to focus on hitting my spots and my control was good,” Reed said. “I kept them off-balance.”

“I think Josh did fantastic,” said Welsh, his catcher. “He hit his spots. He got in the zone and was very focused. He wanted it badly.”

“Josh has been great all year,” Pratt said. “He controlled the game from the first pitch.”

“Josh pitched a great game,” Ridlon added. “One of the best he’s thrown. He went toe-to-toe with one of the best pitchers. He made big pitches when he had to.” 

Offensively, Lorello had two hits, Pratt scored the run and Welsh had the RBI. Carion, Kelly and Pratt had stolen bases.

Scarborough left five runners on base.

Lambert pitched well enough to stay undefeated on the season, but instead, he fell to 5-1 after giving up just one run on seven hits in six innings. Lambert walked two and fanned seven.

Chessie had two of Thornton Academy’s three hits, but the Golden Trojans couldn’t get a key base knock and stranded four runners.

One left

Thornton Academy (currently third in the Class A South Heal Points standings) looks to right its ship before playoffs and closes with visiting Massabesic Tuesday.

Scarborough (now fourth in Class South, where the top four teams earn a preliminary round bye) has a huge test in its finale, when Portland pays a visit Monday at 11 a.m. Senior Mitchell Wedge is expected to get the ball.

“This is huge for us confidence-wise,” Welsh said. “We feel we can beat any team. We have the pitchers and the batters and the spirit to do it.”

“Every win is a good win and we’ll just move on to the next game,” Reed said. “This one just helps us in the standings. We look forward to Portland. Mitch will pitch a heck of a game. We want it bad.”

“I want the kids to enjoy today and get ready to play Monday against another top team in the league,” Ridlon added. “We’ll be ready to go. The kids believe in themselves. They’ve battled all season long. They believed a few days ago, but I think this win solidifies that for them.”

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

Scarborough senior catcher Bayley Welsh lofts a sacrifice fly for the game’s lone run in the fifth inning.

Scarborough sophomore Morgan Pratt slides in with the only run of the game.

Scarborough senior pitcher Josh Reed shows his three-hit, five-strikeout form.

Scarborough junior centerfielder Tim Carion runs down a fly ball.

Thornton Academy sophomore Brogan Searle-Belanger makes contact.

Scarborough junior Tim Carion steals second base as the throw sails over the head of Thornton Academy junior second baseman Chase Wescott.

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