Scarborough outlasts SP in extras to win regional title

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Scarborough’s baseball team mobs winning pitcher, senior Jack Clark, after outlasting top-ranked South Portland, 3-2, in 11-innings, to take the Class A South title Wednesday afternoon. The Red Storm will face unbeaten Oxford Hills in the state final Saturday.

Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Class A South Final, at St. Joseph’s College

Scarborough 3 South Portland 2 (11)

S- 100 010 000 01- 3 5 2
SP- 011 000 000 00- 2 5 5

Top 1st
Thompson doubled to left-center, Alofs scored.

Bottom 2nd
Lappin hit sacrifice fly, Small scored. 

Bottom 3rd
Bialorucki scored on error.

Top 5th
Noah Frink scored on error.

Top 11th
O’Brien doubled to center, Thompson scored.

Multiple hits:
S- Thompson
SP- Bialorucki

Runs:
S- Alofs, Noah Frink, Thompson
SP- Bialorucki, Small

RBI:
S- O’Brien, Thompson
SP- Lappin

Doubles:
S- O’Brien, Thompson
SP- Bialorucki, Owen

Stolen bases:
S- Alofs 3, Noah Frink
SP- Lewis

Left on base:
S- 8
SP- 5

Thompson, Clark (8) and Nic Frink; Lewis, Lappin (9) and Horton.

S:
Thompson 7.1 IP 5 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 6 K 1 WP
Clark (W, 7-1) 3.2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 6 K

SP:
Lewis 8.1 IP 4 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 9 K 1 WP
Lappin (L, 3-1) 2.2 IP 1 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 K 

Time: 2:43

STANDISH—No one believed in the Scarborough Red Storm and as far as the Red Storm are concerned, the doubters can keep it up.

As long as they show up for the Class A state final.

Where the Red Storm, in spite of predictions to the contrary, will be competing.

Wednesday afternoon at the Larry Mahaney Diamond on the campus on St. Joseph’s College, third-ranked Scarborough and top-seeded South Portland did battle for nearly three hours to determine which squad was the best in Class A South and thanks to brilliant pitching, daring baserunning and a timely hit, the Red Storm emerged.

Scarborough jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Red Riots junior pitcher Noah Lewis, when Red Storm junior pitcher Nick Thompson doubled home junior leftfielder Zach Alofs with two outs.

South Portland tied it up in the top of the second on a sacrifice fly from junior third baseman Gus Lappin, but a double play prevented the Red Riots from getting more.

South Portland went up, 2-1, in the bottom of the third, as junior second baseman Gerik Bialorucki scored on a throwing error, but Scarborough would tie it in the top of the fifth inning, when senior rightfielder Noah Frink scored on a Red Riots’ throwing error.

That would be it for scoring for quite awhile, as first Lewis and Thompson and later, relievers Lappin and Red Storm senior Jack Clark, got the better of the opposing offenses.

Finally, in the top of the 11th, Scarborough broke the tie, as Thompson reached on an error, moved to second on another error, then scored on a one-out double from sophomore designated hitter Peter O’Brien.

Clark stranded the tying run at second in the bottom of the frame and the Red Storm, for just the second time in Class A and the third time overall, advanced to the state final by virtue of a marathon 3-2 victory.

Scarborough improved to 14-4, ended South Portland’s fine season at 17-2 and advanced to battle Oxford Hills (19-0) in the Class A state final Saturday at 2 p.m., in Augusta.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Clark. “This means so much. We had nothing to lose. We were the underdog.”

Year of the Pitcher

In a season where pitching dominated in Class A South, Scarborough and South Portland led the way and wound up the final two teams standing.

The Red Riots won every game but one in the regular season, a 2-1 home loss to Marshwood, and outscored the opposition, 100-18 (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories). South Portland’s fourth victory out of 15 during the regular year, a 10-0, five-inning home win over Massabesic May 4, was coach Mike Owens’ 100th with the program.

As the top seed, the Red Riots got to play two home regional playoff games, blanking No. 9 Biddeford, 3-0, in the quarterfinals, then holding off No. 4 Marshwood, 4-2, in the semifinals to make it to the regional championship game for the third time in five years.

Scarborough, meanwhile, improved from six victories in 2018 to 13 this spring, also riding great pitching to a 12-4 mark, good for the No. 3 seed in the region. Four of those wins came by shutout and three others featured pitchers holding the opposition to just one run. The Red Storm’s lone losses came to Deering, Marshwood, Thornton Academy and South Portland. 

The setback to the Red Riots came May 20, 2-1, at home, in the teams’ lone regular season meeting. Lewis went the distance to earn the victory and South Portland scored twice in the sixth inning to erase a deficit.

Scarborough blanked No. 6 Cheverus, 4-0, in the quarterfinals, then beat No. 7 Falmouth, 3-1, in the semifinals.

The squads had met three previous times in the playoffs, see sidebar, below, with the Red Riots holding a 2-1 edge.

Wednesday, on a picture-perfect (and pitcher-perfect) afternoon (75 degrees and sunny at first pitch), the talented teams played on and on and on before the Red Storm had the last laugh.

Scarborough produced some two-out magic to grab the lead in the top of the first inning.

Noah Frink chased Lewis’ first pitch and grounded out sharply to second, but after getting ahead in the count 3-0, then having it go full, Alofs drew a walk and after senior centerfielder Nolan Lamontagne struck out looking, with Thompson at the plate, Alofs took off for second and Thompson ripped a double to left-center, allowing Alofs to come all the way around on the hit-and-run to break the ice. Freshman catcher Nic Frank struck out swinging, but the Red Storm had the jump.

Thompson then made quick work of the Red Riots in the bottom half.

After junior centerfielder Anthony Perron popped out to first leading off, both junior shortstop Anthony Poole and Lewis watched strike three. 

Lewis started the top of the second by fanning O’Brien and getting Clark, who started the game at third base, to pop out to second, but senior second baseman Wyatt Plummer reached when Bialorucki couldn’t handle his ground ball for an error, then he took off for second with freshman shortstop T.J. Liponis at the plate and Liponis lifted a fly ball to shallow right, which forced senior rightfielder Hunter Owen to race in and make a sprawling catch to retire the side.

In the bottom half, South Portland drew even, but squandered an opportunity to score even more.

Junior first baseman Tyler Small led off with a sharp single to left and after a long at-bat, featuring several foul balls, Owen drew a walk on a full count pitch. Senior catcher Caden Horton then laid down a bunt in front of Thompson. The pitcher grabbed the ball, looked to third and saw there was no play, then turned to go to first, but no one was covering and just like that, the bases were loaded.

Lappin then popped up behind first. Plummer got to the ball and sprawled to make the catch, but on the play. Small took off for home and Plummer couldn’t get to his feet to make the throw, allowing Small to score on one of the shorter sacrifice flies in memory. On the play, Owen took third and the Red Riots had a chance to put up a crooked number, but junior leftfielder Dillan Ray-Bolduc hit the ball up the middle, right to Liponis at short, who stepped on second for one out, then threw on to first for an inning-ending double play to keep the game tied, 1-1.

Scarborough got a runner in scoring position in the top of the third, but couldn’t retake the lead.

After Noah Frink grounded out to Small unassisted at first, Alofs singled up the middle and stole second. He couldn’t advance, however, as Lamontagne struck out swinging and Thompson hit a sharp grounder at Bialorucki at second, who threw out the batter to end the threat.

In the bottom half, South Portland stole the go-ahead run.

Bialorucki led off with a sharp grounder up the middle, which deflected off Thompson’s foot for an infield single. Perron sacrificed Bialorucki to second with a bunt to third and with Poole at the plate, Bialorucki took off for third as Thompson was spinning toward second with the intention of picking the runner off. Thompson then threw the ball wildly into center and on the play, Bialorucki came home with the run. Poole grounded out to second and Lewis did the same, but the Red Riots had a 2-1 lead.

Lewis preserved it in the top of the fourth, getting Nic Frink to ground slowly to Lappin at third, who made a nice play on the run to record the out, O’Brien to ground out to second and Clark to chase strike three.

Thompson had a quick and efficient bottom of the fourth, getting Small to fly out to center on the first pitch, fanning Owen, then getting Horton to hit a sharp grounder to to junior first baseman Dom Spinn for the third out.

Scarborough rallied to pull even in the top of the fifth, thanks to some help from South Portland’s defense.

Lewis fanned Plummer leading off and Liponis popped out to second, but on a 3-2 pitch, Noah Frink drew a walk, then with Alofs at the plate, he stole second. Alofs then grounded to Poole to short, who threw high to first and on the play, Frink raced around to score. Alofs stole second, then stole third, but Lewis kept the game 2-2 by striking out Lamontagne. 

In the bottom half, Thompson fanned Lappin and got Ray-Bolduc to pop out foul to third, but Bialorucki went the other way and doubled to left-center. With Perron at the plate, Bialorucki moved up to third on a wild pitch, but on a 3-2 pitch, Perron’s line drive was right at Lamontagne in center and the game remained deadlocked.

Lewis kept it that way in the top of the sixth, getting Thompson to pop up foul on the first pitch with the pitcher recording the out, getting Nic Frink to ground out to third and O’Brien to line out deep to right.

The Red Riots had a great chance to retake the lead in the bottom half, but couldn’t do so.

Thompson got Poole to line out to right leading off, but Lewis drew a walk and junior Ryan Boles came on to run. Thompson fell behind Small 2-0 and 3-1, but after throwing a beautiful curveball to run the count full, he fanned Small for the second out. That loomed large, as Owen ripped a double to the gap in left-center, but the ball didn’t go all the way to the wall and Boles had to stop at third. Horton then hit a sharp grounder to second, but Plummer handled a tough hop and threw on to first to send the game to the top of the seventh. 

There, senior Matthew Ricker, who had replaced Clark at third base in the bottom of the fourth, led off with a single up the middle and went to second on Plummer’s sacrifice bunt. Ricker got as far as third, as Liponis bounced out to second, but Lewis fanned Noah Frink for the third out.

South Portland went quietly in the bottom half, as Lappin and senior pinch-hitter Matthew Wolf both grounded back to the mound and Bialorucki, despite getting ahead in the count, 3-0, popped out to Thompson.

Lewis started the top of the eighth by getting Alofs to bounce out to second. Lamontagne then hit a fly ball to center, which Perron raced in and sprawled to catch. Thompson kept the inning alive with a single to right, then Lewis wild pitched him to second, but Nic Frink hit a slow roller to third and while Lappin’s throw was high, Small was able to keep his foot on the bag to record the final out.

Thompson started the bottom half by getting Perron to strike out, but the third strike was his 110th pitch and by rule, he had to come out of the game.

The Red Storm wouldn’t miss a beat, however, as Clark came on (with Thompson moving to first and junior Aaron Mooney manning third) and caught both Poole and Lewis looking at strike three.

Lewis faced his final batter leading off the top of the ninth and struck out O’Brien looking. Lewis, who also hit the pitch limit, was replaced by Lappin and Lewis went to shortstop. Lappin got Clark to ground out to short for the second out, but Plummer reached on an error at third and wound up at second base. He’d be stranded, however, as Liponis grounded out to Lewis, who made a nice play in the hole before throwing on to first, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth.

There, South Portland went quietly, as Clark struck out Small looking, got Owen to ground out to short, then fanned Horton.

Neither team could do anything with the bats in the 10th, as Lappin got Noah Frink to pop to short and Alofs and Lamontagne to each ground out to third in the top half, and Clark got Lappin to ground out to first and Wolf and Bialorucki to bounce out to short in the bottom half.

The Red Storm got a break to start the 11th, as Thompson reached when Perron couldn’t hold his fly ball. Lappin then tried to pick off the runner, but the throw got away and the go-ahead run moved into scoring position. Lappin struck out Nic Frink, but O’Brien would come through with Scarborough’s biggest hit since Joe Cronin hit a walkoff home run to beat Cheverus in the 2012 regional final.

O’Brien hit a shot to centerfield that went for a double and Thompson came home to put Scarborough on top.

“I was just looking for a pitch that I could barrel up,” said O’Brien. “Just drive in that run. I saw the pitch and I knew that was my pitch to hit.”

Clark grounded out to short and Plummer lined to center, but the Red Storm were on the brink.

In the bottom of the 11th, Clark struck out Perron and got Poole to bounce out to second, but Lewis kept hope alive when he reached on an error by Plummer at second and stole second, but at 5:46 p.m., after a 2 hour, 43 minute marathon, Clark caught Small looking at strike three and Scarborough got to celebrate its 3-2 victory.

“South Portland is a very good team and we’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in,” said Red Storm coach Mike D’Andrea. 

Scarborough only mustered five hits in 11 innings, two from Thompson, but it was enough. Alofs, Noah Frink and Thompson scored the runs. O’Brien and Thompson had RBI, as well as extra base hits.

Alofs stole three bases and Noah Frink stole one.

Scarborough stranded eight runners.

Ultimately, pitching led the Red Storm to the Promised Land.

Thompson didn’t get a decision, but was solid for 7.1 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked two, fanned six and threw one wild pitch.

Clark improved to 7-1 by picking up the victory with 3.2 innings of scoreless, hitless relief. Clark didn’t walk a batter and struck out six.

“Pound the zone and keep it away,” said Clark, of his approach. “I knew the (strike) zone was a little out today, so as long as I could keep it outside, I could get my two-seam (fastball) to run back in and they didn’t do too much off that.”

“(Jack) did what we needed him to do and as a team, the boys did what they needed to do,” D’Andrea said. “I’m proud of them.”

Another heartache

South Portland got two hits and a run scored from Bialorucki. Small also scored and Lappin had an RBI. Lewis stole a base.

The Red Riots left five runners on.

Lewis didn’t get a decision after giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits in his 8.1 inning effort. Lewis walked two, struck out nine and threw a wild pitch.

Lappin fell to 3-1 after giving up an unearned run on one hit in 2.2 innings of relief. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out one.

“We just gave them too many chances,” said Owens. “And when Clark came in, he was great, he just blew us away. We looked really uncomfortable at the plate.”

South Portland has won 90 games in the past six seasons, but on five occasions has suffered a gutwrenching loss in the regional tournament and one other time lost to Bangor in a down-to-the-wire state final.

Biggest challenge of all

Up next for the Red Storm is a trip to Augusta to face undefeated Oxford Hills with an opportunity to win their first Class A championship and its second in any class (Scarborough captured Class B in 1986).

The Red Storm didn’t meet the Vikings this year and the teams have no playoff history.

Scarborough will again be the underdog, but it’s doubtful the Red Storm would rather have it any other way.

Press Herald staff writer Mike Lowe contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports

South Portland junior starting pitcher Noah Lewis goes into his delivery. Lewis pitched into the ninth inning but didn’t get a decision.

Scarborough freshman shortstop T.J. Liponis forces South Portland senior Caden Horton and throws on to first to complete an inning-ending double play in the second inning.

South Portland junior third baseman Gus Lappin makes contact.

South Portland senior rightfielder Hunter Owen slides to make a catch.

Scarborough junior Zach Alofs steals third as South Portland junior third baseman Gus Lappin tries to field the throw.

Scarborough senior Jack Clark, who earned the win in relief, fires a strike. 

Previous Scarborough stories

Season Preview

Scarborough 4 Cheverus 0

Previous South Portland stories

Season Preview

South Portland 4 Cheverus 0

Class A South quarterfinal
South Portland 3 Biddeford 0

Previous Scarborough-South Portland playoff results

2016 Class A South semifinal
South Portland 8 Scarborough 5

2011 Western A quarterfinal
South Portland 2 Scarborough 1 (8)

2009 Western A semifinal
Scarborough 13 South Portland 6

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