Spring sports underway in Portland

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The 2011 spring sports season is now underway in earnest.

While most of the action to date has involved city boys’ lacrosse teams, everyone else either has or is about to start up a new campaign.

Baseball

Deering and Portland began their baseball seasons last week, while Cheverus and Waynflete are now underway.

The Rams, regional semifinalists in 2010 and one of the favorites this spring, opened with a hard-fought 4-3 victory at South Portland.

Deering received strong pitching from senior Sam Balzano and junior Nick DiBiase, as well as timely hitting.

Deering went ahead to stay in the third inning on a sacrifice fly and an RBI infield hit from Balzano. After the Red Riots got a run back, the Rams took a 3-1 lead on an RBI double from junior Jamie Gullbrand. After South Portland made it 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Deering went back up by two, 4-2, thanks to a wild pitch in the top of the sixth, and held off the Red Riots from there as the Rams downed their rival for the sixth time in a row.

“A win’s a win,”said Deering’s first-year coach Mark Sutton.

Balzano got the victory, hurling 5.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with a walk, a wild pitch and four strikeouts.

“If coach needs me to throw, I’ll throw strikes,” Balzano said. “My fastball worked for me. The first couple innings, my off speed pitches weren’t going over the plate. Later in the game, my curve and changeup got over the plate and that helped me out.”

DiBiase was nearly perfect in relief, allowing just the one walk, but no hits in 1.2 innings.

“Sam was absolutely amazing,” said Gullbrand. “Nick DiBiase definitely deserves that closer spot.”

Offensively, the Rams had six hits, including doubles from senior Anthony Balzano and Gullbrand and a triple from senior Nick Colucci. Gullbrand was the lone batter with multiple hits (two).

Deering went to defending regional champion Biddeford Tuesday, opens its home schedule Thursday at Hadlock Field versus Kennebunk, and hosts Bonny Eagle Saturday.

“I think we’ll be alright when we get healthy,” Sam Balzano said. “We don’t think about it. We have a lot of seniors and want to win it. We’ll take one game at a time.”

“I think we definitely have a shot at states,” Gullbrand added. “We’ll go far this year.”

Portland began the Tony DiBiase Era Friday at Deering Oaks with an 11-4 win over Gorham. In that one, Kyle Reichert blasted a three-run home run and classmate Nick Volger had three hits, including a pair of doubles. Sophomore Caleb Fraser earned the victory.

The Bulldogs were at Marshwood Tuesday, go to Bonnny Eagle Thursday and play host to Massabesic Saturday.

Cheverus was supposed to open at Scarborough Saturday, but that game was postponed by bad weather. The Stags played host to Thornton Academy Tuesday, welcome Gorham Thursday and go to Noble Saturday.

In Western C, Waynflete opened its season at home against Old Orchard Beach in a playoff rematch Monday. The Flyers have a doubleheader at Traip Saturday.

Softball

The softball season began Monday when Deering hosted rival Portland.

The Bulldogs welcome Westbrook Wednesday and go to Windham Friday.

The Rams go to defending state champion South Portland Wednesday and welcome Cheverus Friday.

Speaking of the Stags, they were at Sanford Monday, host Kennebunk Wednesday and go to Deering Friday.

McAuley, last year’s surprise team, opened Monday at home versus Bonny Eagle. The Lions visit Sanford Friday and Cheverus Saturday.

Girls’ lacrosse

The Waynflete girls’ lacrosse team’s run at another championship began Tuesday night at Falmouth (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Flyers open at home Saturday versus Kennebunk.

Also in Western B, McAuley opened Monday at Gorham and welcomed Edward Little Tuesday. Thursday, the Lions play host to Cheverus.

The Stags played host to Massabesic Monday before visiting McAuley Thursday. They play at Messalonskee Saturday.

Deering’s first game was at Windham Monday. After playing at Kennebunk Thursday, the Rams open at home Saturday versus Maranacook.

Portland’s first game was at Biddeford Monday. After going to defending Class A champion Scarborough Thursday, the Bulldogs host Gardiner Saturday.

Track

The indoor track season also began this week.

The Cheverus and McAuley girls joined Bonny Eagle and Sanford at Windham Tuesday. Deering’s girls ran at Kennebunk Tuesday. Portland hosted Gorham, Noble and Thornton Academy Monday. Waynflete competes at York Friday.

On the boys’ side, Deering competed at Scarborough Monday, Cheverus hosts Bonny Eagle, Sanford and Windham Wednesday, Portland is at Noble Wednesday and Waynflete runs, jumps and throws at York Friday.

Tennis

Three-time defending Class C boys’ tennis champion Waynflete opened defense of its championship Monday at reigning Class B champ Cape Elizabeth. The Flyers host Freeport Wednesday and go to Yarmouth Friday.

In Western A, Portland was home against Bonny Eagle Monday, hosts Massabesic Wednesday and visits Windham Friday.

Deering was home against South Portland in its opener Monday, plays at Cheverus Wednesday and goes to Bonny Eagle Friday.

Cheverus’ first match was Monday at home with Thornton Academy. After hosting Deering Wednesday, the Stags are at Biddeford Friday.

On the girls’ side, Cheverus played at Thornton Academy Monday, visits McAuley Wednesday and hosts Biddeford Friday.

Deering’s opener was at South Portland Monday. The Rams are home against Bonny Eagle Friday.

McAuley was home with Marshwood Monday, hosts Cheverus Wednesday and plays at Thornton Academy Thursday.

Portland opened at Bonny Eagle Monday, visits Massabesic Wednesday and hosts Windham Friday.

Waynflete opened at home versus Cape Elizabeth Monday, visits Freeport Wednesday and plays host to Yarmouth Friday.

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

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