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Scarborough freshman T.J. Liponis is congratulated by his teammates after stealing home in the seventh inning of the Red Storm’s 4-0 win at Cheverus Thursday.
Derek Davis / Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
S- 000 110 2- 4 4 1
C- 000 000 0- 0 2 2
O’Brien scored on wild pitch.
Plummer scored on error.
Lamontagne reached on infield single, Plummer scored. Liponis stole home.
S- Plummer 2, Liponis, O’Brien
S- Liponis 2, Lamontagne, Plummer
Left on base:
Thompson and Nic Frink; Mullen and O’Donnell.
Thompson (W, 3-0) 7 IP 2 H 0 R 0 BB 9 K 1 Balk 1 WP
Mullen (L, 1-2) 7 IP 4 H 4 R 2 ER 1 BB 6 K 1 WP 1 HBP
PORTLAND—Entering the 2019 season, Scarborough’s baseball team was largely ignored by the pundits.
But as we near the midway point, there’s no denying any longer that the Red Storm are becoming something special.
Thursday afternoon at Kevin MacDonald Memorial Field, Scarborough continued its fast start, thanks in large part to a fabulous start from junior left-handed ace Nick Thompson, and the Red Storm took advantage of some shaky Cheverus defense to score three unearned runs and go on to a 4-0 victory.
Thompson threw a two-hit shutout, senior second baseman Wyatt Plummer scored twice and Scarborough improved to 6-1 on the season, dropping the Stags to 5-3 in the process.
“We came out and put the ball in play and competed and made some plays and our guy threw three pitches for strikes and did a good job,” said Red Storm coach Mike D’Andrea. “We feel good about being 6-1.”
Entering play Thursday, the Red Storm had won 11 of 18 all-time meetings (see sidebar, below), but Cheverus had taken the past two, including a 9-7 victory last spring in Scarborough.
This season, both teams have made the most of their limited opportunities to get outdoors.
Cheverus started with wins at Marshwood (7-2) and Gorham (2-1, in 11-innings, in a regional final rematch), then downed visiting Noble (14-4, in six-innings) and Massabesic (6-5). After a 3-0 loss at Kennebunk, the Stags blanked visiting Sanford (6-0), but Tuesday, they dropped a hard-fought 9-8 decision at Thornton Academy.
Scarborough, meanwhile, needed eight innings to defeat host Bonny Eagle in its opener, 9-6. After four straight rainouts, the Red Storm won at Gorham (9-0) and at home over Windham (5-4). After another rainout, Scarborough downed host Noble (7-1). Tuesday, the Red Storm lost at home to Deering (7-3) and Wednesday, they had no trouble with visiting Sanford, winning, 15-0, in five-innings.
Thursday proved to be one of the nicer days of the spring, 54 degrees with a 13 mile-per-hour wind at first pitch. Cheverus hoped for its third straight win in the series, but instead, Scarborough beat the Stags for the first time since 2016.
Cheverus senior Jack Mullen matched Thompson pitch for pitch through three innings.
Mullen set the Red Storm down in order in the top of the order, getting senior centerfielder Nolan Lamontagne to ground out to first, sophomore Peter O’Brien to watch strike three, then getting senior rightfielder Noah Frink to line out to senior first baseman John Welch.
In the bottom half, Thompson hinted at his terrific effort to come by catching junior second baseman Luke Knowles looking at strike three, doing the same to senior shortstop Justin Ray, then getting senior leftfielder Nathaniel Lapoint to chase strike three.
Mullen fanned freshman catcher Nic Frink leading off the top of the second, then got senior first baseman Jack Clark to fly out to right on the first pitch before striking out sophomore third baseman Joseph Townsend.
In the bottom half, Thompson got Welch to bounce out to second, sophomore designated hitter Sam Clark to fly out to center and senior catcher Hayden O’Donnell to chase strike three.
Plummer led off the third by grounding out to third, but junior leftfielder Zach Alofs followed with a slow roller to third which he beat out for the game’s first hit. After Liponis sacrificed Alofs to second, Lamontagne had a chance to deliver the game’s first run, but he struck out.
Thompson remained dominant in the bottom of the frame, getting junior third baseman Chris Cimino to ground back to the mound, fanning junior centerfielder Nate Rogers to fan on a 3-2 pitch, then inducing a grounder to second off the bat of senior rightfielder Andrew DeGeorge.
Scarborough got the only run Thompson would need in the top of the fourth.
O’Brien led off with a drive to left that got over the head of Lapoint for a double. Noah Frink sacrificed him to third, but when Mullen got Nic Frink to pop out to third, it appeared the hosts would escape the inning.
That didn’t happen, as with two strikes on Jack Clark, Mullen threw a wild pitch and O”Brien scored for a 1-0 Red Storm lead.
Mullen fanned Clark to end the frame, but the damage was done.
The Stags had an opportunity to answer in the bottom half, but a baserunning blunder proved costly.
After Noah Frink couldn’t reach a deep foul ball off the bat of Knowles, Knowles took advantage of new life and singled to right. Thompson struck out Ray swinging, but with Lapoint at the plate, he balked Knowles to second. Nic Frink then came up huge, catching Knowles leaning and throwing back to second where Liponis applied the tag for the second out. That play was critical when Lapoint followed with a double over the head of Noah Frink for what should have been a game-tying RBI hit. Instead, Cheverus came up empty, as after Thompson threw a wild pitch to put Lapoint at third, he threw strike three past Welch.
Scarborough doubled its lead in the top of the fifth.
After Mullen got Townsend to ground out to first (with the pitcher covering), Plummer singled to center and moved up when Alofs was hit by a pitch. Liponis flew out to left for the second out and Lamontagne grounded to third to apparently end the frame, but instead, Cimino couldn’t come up with the ball and the error allowed Plummer to come home and score and the runners to move to second and third. O’Brien threatened to add to the lead with a slow roller to short, but Ray made a nice play, getting to the ball and throwing out the runner in a bang-bang play to end the frame with the Red Storm ahead, 2-0.
Thompson returned to his dominant self in the bottom half, getting Sam Clark to ground to short on a 3-2 pitch, O’Donnell to fly out to right and Cimino to bounce out to second.
Each team went quietly in the sixth, as Mullen retired Noah Frink on a grounder to first, Nic Frink on a ground out to second and Jack Clark on a line drive which Knowles made a nice dive after moving to his right, and in the bottom half, Thompson retired Rogers on a line drive to right before striking out DeGeorge and Knowles.
More Cheverus’ largesse then helped Scarborough put the game away in the top of the seventh.
Townsend popped out to short leading off and Plummer followed with a grounder to second, but Knowles misplayed it for an error, then stole second. After Alofs drew a walk, Liponis grounded into a force out, with Plummer taking third, before stealing second. Lamontagne then hit a sharp grounder down the third base line, which Cimino stopped with a nice dive, but he had no play at first on the infield single and Plummer came home with Liponis moving to third. Then, with Lamontagne on the move, Liponis stole home for another run. O’Brien struck out looking to end the uprising, but the damage was done.
Thompson then brought the curtain down in the bottom half.
Ray provided some hope by reaching on an error by Plummer, but Lapoint bounced into a third-to-second force out and Thompson got Welch to ground back to the mound, Thompson threw to Liponis at second for a force and Liponis threw on to first to complete the double play and give the Red Storm a 4-0 victory in a tidy 1 hour, 34 minutes.
“We beat a pretty good team,” D’Andrea said. “We have a lot of respect for Cheverus, especially (Mullen). We try to keep pressure on and get creative here and there, but at the end of the day, we put the ball in play. We stole a couple (runs) late.
“We have some key additions this year and we have a fresh start. We have three new kids in the lineup. Peter O’Brien has been consistently hitting for us and he’s a good outfielder too.”
Thompson stole the show, improving to 3-0 after throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out nine. He did commit a balk and threw one wild pitch.
“I felt great,” Thompson said. “I came into the game knowing I could use my curveball effectively and it opened up a whole option of pitches. I can usually tell in warmups if I’m on. Something I can do this year I couldn’t do last year is that I can fix it in warmups and be locked in coming in. I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. I know my team will score runs and once they did, I just had to make it stand up.”
“(Nick’s) worked really hard,” D’Andrea said. “He struggled a little bit with the strike zone in the preseason, but he’s gotten there. He’s had back-to-back exceptional performances.”
Offensively, Plummer scored twice, while Liponis and O’Brien also touched home. Lamontagne had the lone RBI. Liponis stole two bases, while Lamontagne and Plummer each had one.
The Red Storm stranded four baserunners.
Mullen was the hard-luck loser, falling to 1-2 on the year after giving up four runs (just one earned) on four hits in seven innings. Mullen walked one and struck out six. He hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
“(Jack) was good too,” said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “The last three runs were unearned. We had to play a perfect game, which we didn’t. That’s baseball. It was a good pitching duel. If we played better defensively, it probably would have been a 1-0 game. Tip your hat to Nick. He mixed up his pitches. It looked like his curveball got better as the game progressed.”
The Stags stranded just one runner.
Cheverus is scheduled to go to Biddeford Friday, but it’s likely that one will be postponed by rain. The Stags host Windham and Bonny Eagle and play at Portland next week.
“We sort of look at our guys the way Forrest Gump looks at a box of chocolates, we never know what we’re going to get,” McKew said. “I don’t see any invincible teams. We have to get in the right frame of mind and compete.”
Scarborough, meanwhile, is idle until Monday when Biddeford pays a visit. The Red Storm then play three in a row on the road, at Marshwood, Falmouth and Thornton Academy.
“I think we’ve always had the talent, but we’re a lot more tight-knit this year,” Thompson said. “We have some new kids who have been great. Anyone can beat anyone on a given day, but I’ll take our team.”
“We made a few mistakes on the bases today, so we’re still figuring it out,” D’Andrea said. “We want to be flawless. We have things to clean up for sure.”
Scarborough junior Nick Thompson delivers a strike. Thompson threw a complete game, two-hit shutout.
Cheverus senior shortstop Justin Ray throws on the run.
Scarborough shortstop T.J. Liponis tags out Cheverus second baseman Luke Knowles at second base.
Scarborough freshman T.J. Liponis steals home in the seventh inning.
Cheverus second baseman Luke Knowles forces Scarborough’s Zach Alofs, then throws too late to first to complete a double play.
Cheverus second baseman Luke Knowles, right, is congratulated by shortstop Justin Ray after making a diving catch.
Scarborough sophomore Peter O’Brien is congratulated by senior Jack Clark after scoring the game’s first run.
Cheverus 9 @ Scarborough 7
@ Cheverus 2 Scarborough 1 (9)
@ Scarborough 6 Cheverus 4
Cheverus 5 Scarborough 0 (@ OOB)
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 0
Western A Final
Scarborough 7 Cheverus 5
Cheverus 4 @ Scarborough 1
Scarborough 6 @ Cheverus 3 (14)
Scarborough 4 @ Cheverus 2
Scarborough 2 @ Cheverus 0
@ Scarborough 2 Cheverus 1 (8)
@ Scarborough 12 Cheverus 2 (6)
@ Scarborough 6 Cheverus 3
@ Cheverus 17 Scarborough 2
Western A preliminary
@ Cheverus 6 Scarborough 2