Stretch run underway, many big games loom-Portland edition

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Cheverus third baseman Chris Cimino, left, is congratulated by first baseman Andrew DeGeorge after making a nice defensive play during the Stags’ 2-1 home in over Biddeford last week.

Portland catcher Laini Legere lines a hit during last week’s extra inning home loss to Thornton Academy.

Waynflete’s LZ Olney scores on a free position during the Flyers’ 8-7 loss at Falmouth Saturday.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Biddeford, Deering-Falmouth, Portland-Deering and Portland-South Portland baseball, Portland-Thornton Academy softball and Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete-Falmouth girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

The team tennis regular season is coming to a close, conference track meets will be held this weekend and the clock is ticking on the baseball, softball and lacrosse campaigns, meaning that the best time on the spring sports calendar, the postseason, is right around the corner.

Every contest takes on added importance as teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning.

Here’s a glimpse at what you might have missed, as well as a look at what’s left:

Baseball

Don’t look now, but Cheverus’ baseball team, a regional finalist in 2017, which won just one of of its first five games this spring, is climbing the Class A South Heal Points standings.

Last week, the Stags downed visiting Kennebunk (10-6), host Deering (14-0, in five-innings), visiting Biddeford (2-1) and host Noble (10-5) to improve to 7-5 and ninth in the region. In the win over Kennebunk, Maxx St. John earned his first victory, Chris Cimino had two hits and four RBI and Andrew DeGeorge added three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Against Deering, Jack Mullen spun a one-hit gem and retired the final 13 batters he faced and offensively, Nathaniel Lapoint, Hayden O’Donnell, Justin Ray and Griffin Watson all had two hits. It was Conner MacDonald’s turn to excel on the mound against the Tigers, as he went the distance, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out five. Watson had two hits and scored twice and St. John had two hits and an RBI.

“Conner was phenomenal,” said St. John. “It’s the best game I’ve seen him pitch. He had great energy.”

“We’ll keep pounding the ball,” said MacDonald. “We know we have really good pitching. We just have to hit.”

“It’s nice to beat a team ahead of us,” added Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “We were the first team on the bubble going into today, so hopefully things improve from a Heal Points perspective with this one.”

Against the Knights, Ray earned the win and had three hits and four RBI. Cimino and Watson also had three hits and St. John drove in a pair. The Stags hosted Portland in a pivotal showdown Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), go to Scarborough Thursday, welcome Marshwood Saturday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and close the regular season at Massabesic Tuesday of next week.

Portland was cruising along nicely, improving to 9-1 with home wins over Deering (11-1, in five-innings) and Westbrook (8-2), but the Bulldogs then lost twice at home in less than 24 hours, 6-3 to Gorham and 4-1 to South Portland, last weekend to fall to 9-3 and second in the Heals. Against Deering, where longtime coach Mike Rutherford won his 300th career game (see story), Portland took advantage of four Rams’ errors and got three hits from Billy Barnard, including a two-run walk-off single, and a solid pitching performance from Donnie Tocci.

“I know Deering’s been our rival forever,” Barnard said. “I was waiting for my pitch and I was ready to attack it. It wasn’t necessarily the greatest walk-off, but I’ll take it any day.”

Sonny Villani then threw a one-hitter over six innings to beat the Blue Blazes and Ben Stasium had three hits. In the loss to Gorham, Cam King had three hits and Will Snyder added a pair, but the Bulldogs couldn’t overcome an early deficit. Against the Red Riots, in a game that started at 9 a.m. to avoid bad weather later Saturday, Portland, behind Tocci, led 1-0 entering the sixth (on an RBI from Barnard), but South Portland took advantage of four errors to rally and prevail.

“We didn’t play great defense,” Rutherford said. “They were hard-hit balls, but they were makeable plays. We thought it would be a one-run, two-run game. Give South Portland credit. They’re well-coached and play great baseball.”

After going to Cheverus Tuesday, Portland is at Massabesic Thursday, hosts Kennebunk Monday and Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week to wrap up.

Deering entered the week 13th in Class A South, where only 12 teams qualify for the playoffs. Last week, the Rams fell to 5-7 after mercy rule losses at Portland (11-1, in five-innings), at home to Cheverus (14-0, in five-innings) and at South Portland (10-0, in five-innings) and a 5-4 home loss to Falmouth. Deering’s defense betrayed it against Portland as Luc Harrison had three hits.

“I thought we were solid at the plate to start,” Rams coach Josh Stowell said. “We hit the ball well against their best guy. If we can play a clean game, I think we’re just as good as those guys.”

Keegan Stanton’s double was Deering’s only hit against Cheverus. In the loss to the Yachtsmen, the Rams left the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and fell behind, 5-1, before almost rallying in the bottom of the seventh. Harrison and Stanton both had two hits.

“We have to right the ship,” Stowell said. “We’re the first spot out of the playoffs right now. The nice thing is that we control our own destiny. If we win, we’ll keep playing. If we don’t, we probably won’t make it in.”

In Class C South, Waynflete was 1-8 and 15th at press time (only 10 teams qualify for the postseason) following a 12-1 home loss to St. Dom’s and a 10-0 loss at St. Dom’s. After going to Old Orchard Beach Monday, the Flyers visit Sacopee Valley Wednesday, then close at home versus Traip Academy Friday.

Softball

Portland’s softball squad would be the only local team to qualify for the playoffs if they began now.

The Bulldogs suffered an agonizing 10-6 (eight-inning) home loss to Thornton Academy last Monday and after beating host Biddeford (6-2), fell to 6-7 after losing at home to Windham (11-4) and Noble (2-0). Against the Golden Trojans, Callie Watson singled, doubled, tripled and drove in three runs, Laini Legere had two hits and two RBI and Alexis Fiore homered, but Portland led a 5-2 seventh inning lead slip away.

“That would have been a big win,” Bulldogs coach Robbie Ferrante said. “We have to learn how to finish. We can’t dwell on this.”

In the victory, Jess Brown earned the win with 11 strikeouts while Kit Rosmus hit a home run. Against the Eagles, Laini Legere singled, tripled and had two RBI and Rosmus also tripled. Legere had Portland’s lone two hits in its loss to the Knights. The Bulldogs (eighth in the Class A Heal Points standings at press time) went to Cheverus/NYA Monday, host Bonny Eagle Wednesday and close the regular season at home Friday versus Deering.

The Cheverus/North Yarmouth Academy co-op team was 3-10 and 13th in Class A South at the beginning of the week, but only 12 teams qualify for the playoffs. Last week, Cheverus/NYA lost last week at Gorham (13-0, in five-innings), 7-2 at home to Massabesic and 9-5 at Marshwood. After being no-hit by the Rams, Alexandra Hammond had a pair of hits against the Mustangs. In the loss to the Hawks, Hammond tripled twice and double and Madison Durgin hit a home run. Cheverus/NYA was home against Portland Monday and went to Noble Tuesday before closing at Sanford Friday.

The Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth co-op squad was 3-10 and 14th at press time following a 15-5 home win over Deering and losses to visiting Kennebunk (3-1) and host Gorham (15-3, in five-inning). The Sea Lions got a single, double and home run from Liberty Ladd and a double and homer from Elizabeth Kennedy in the victory. Quinn Chicoine and Grace Tourville added three hits apiece and Cameron Birks earned the win. Kennedy drove in two runs against Gorham and Ladd scored all three runs. Jill Joyce added two hits. MGA/Falmouth was home against Massabesic Monday, visits Marshwood Wednesday and closes at Noble Friday.

Deering fell to 0-13 and 17th in Class A South after losing at MGA/Falmouth (15-5), at home to Marshwood (15-0, in six-innings) and at Kennebunk (15-1). Maddy Broda and Ashleigh Mathisen each had two hits in the loss to the Sea Lions. Liz Drelich finished with two hits in the loss to the Hawks. The Rams hosted Noble Monday, play at Massabesic Wednesday and close at Portland Friday.

Boys’ lacrosse

Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team remained undefeated at the beginning of the week, improving to 8-0 last Wednesday with a 9-3 win at Massabesic. Reilly O’Brien led the way with four goals. The Bulldogs (second behind Falmouth in the Class A North Heal Points standings) go to Biddeford Wednesday, face a test at Windham Friday, host Westbrook May 30 and close at home versus Noble June 1.

Deering was 3-6 and fifth in Class A North following a 17-5 home loss to Falmouth and a 10-7 win at Mt. Ararat. Andrew James and Nick James both had two goals against the Yachtsmen. In the victory, Zach Harvey had three goals, while Omar Contreras, Payson Harvey and Nick James all scored twice. The Rams play at defending Class A South champion Scarborough Friday, go to Cheverus May 30 and close at home versus Thornton Academy June 1.

Cheverus last missed the playoffs in 2011, but was in danger of doing so at the start of the week as it sat eighth in Class A North (only six teams qualify for the postseason) after falling to 2-6 with a 20-4 home loss to Thornton Academy Friday. The Stags went to Falmouth Tuesday, host Waynflete Friday, travel to Deering May 30 and close at South Portland June 1.

In Class C, Waynflete improved to 5-3 with its fifth win in six games, 14-1, at home over Cony Saturday. Hank Duvall had five goals and five assists and Zane Moorhead added three assists. The Flyers (fifth in the standings) were at Lake Region Tuesday, go to Cheverus Friday, play at York next Tuesday, then close at home versus Class B powerhouse Yarmouth May 31.

Girls’ lacrosse

Portland’s girls’ squad extended its win streak to six and improved to 7-2 and second behind Falmouth in the Class A North Heals after last Tuesday’s 12-2 win at Maine Girls’ Academy. Morgan Kierstead, Chloe Kilbride, Annika More and Isabella More all had two goals. The Bulldogs went to Westbrook Tuesday, host Cheverus Thursday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and close at Noble in a makeup game May 31.

Cheverus was 3-4 and seventh in Class A North (where only six teams make the playoffs) after a 14-9 loss at Falmouth and an 18-2 home victory over Sanford. Zoe Mazur had five goals in the setback and Bella Booth scored five times, Mackenzie Johnston four and Kathryn Griffiths three in the victory. The Stags hosted York Monday and went to Deering Tuesday. After visiting Portland Thursday (see theforecaster.net for game story), Cheverus is at Marshwood May 29 and closes at home versus South Portland May 31.

Deering fell to 3-6 and eighth in Class A North following losses at Biddeford (19-8), at home against Westbrook (7-4) and at NYA (8-4) last week. Kiaya Gatchell had six goals in the loss to the Tigers. The Rams were home with Cheverus Tuesday, play at Sanford May 29 and close at MGA May 31.

In Class B, Waynflete sandwiched losses to visiting Cape Elizabeth (16-6) and at Falmouth (8-7) around a 15-2 home win over Wells last week. Against the Capers, the Flyers got two goals apiece from Izzy Burdick and Ya Stockford, but fell behind early and couldn’t catch up as they surrendered 16 goals for the first time since April 28, 2016.

“It just wasn’t our game today and that happens,” Waynflete coach Cathie Connors said. “They won draws and they beat us to the ball. They wanted it. They were way more aggressive than we were.”

In the win, Burdick had five goals and five assists and Stockford scored four times. The Flyers then had the Yachtsmen on the ropes, leading, 6-4 and 7-5, in the second half, but Falmouth got the game’s final three goals. Stockford led the way with four goals.

“I’m so pleased,” Connors said. “We played a great game. It’s encouraging. We pulled it together. We played more as a team and made each other look good. This was my team. I’m proud of them.”

Waynflete (eighth in the Class B Heals) was home against Lake Region Monday, goes to Freeport Wednesday, plays at St. Dom’s May 29 and closes at home versus Yarmouth June 1.

In Class C, Maine Girls’ Academy was 2-6 and ninth (only eight teams qualify) following a 12-2 home loss to Portland and a 10-9 setback at Erskine Academy. Catherine Reid had seven goals against the Eagles. The Lions went to Biddeford Tuesday, host Sanford Thursday, Noble May 29 and Deering in the finale May 31.

Outdoor track

The final outdoor track meet of the regular season, the Cumberland County Championship Meet, was held Friday at South Portland.

In the boys’ meet, won by Scarborough, Cheverus placed third, Deering was seventh and Portland finished eighth.

The Stags got wins from Sean Tompkins in the 200 (23.17 seconds), Christian Gilliam in the javelin (154 feet, 1 inch) and their 4×100 relay team (44.54). Deering’s Alec Troxell took the two-mile (9 minutes, 54.96 seconds). Portland’s Keller Nicolai won the shot put (51-7.25) and discus (132-1.5).

In the girls’ meet, won by Gorham, Deering placed third, Cheverus finished sixth and Portland was ninth.

The Stags got wins from Emma White in the long jump (17-7 and triple jump (36-11.5). The Rams got first-place showings from Annah Rossvall in the 300 hurdles (48.43) and their 4×100 (53.53), 4×400 (4:17.21) and 4×800 (10:18.20) relay teams.

The Southwestern Maine Activities Association championship meet is Saturday in Saco.

Tennis

The state singles tournament continues and concludes this coming holiday weekend.

Local teams, meanwhile, were putting the final touch on the regular season at press time.

Ten-time defending Class C state champion Waynflete was one win from a perfect regular season when the week began. The Flyers hosted Cape Elizabeth in their finale Monday. Waynflete will be the top seed for the regional tournament.

In Class A South, Portland was 10-1 and second to defending champion Falmouth after 5-0 wins over Massabesic, Scarborough and Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs closed at home against South Portland Monday, as they looked to finish 11-1 for the second year in a row.

Deering was 6-5 and seventh in the region heading into Monday’s finale at Biddeford.

Cheverus improved to 5-6 and ninth in Class A South with a 3-2 win over Scarborough Friday. The Stags closed at Falmouth Monday.

On the girls’ side, defending Class C champion Waynflete took a 5-4 record into Tuesday’s match at Yarmouth. The Flyers (fifth in the region) host St. Dom’s Wednesday and close at home versus NYA Wednesday.

In Class A South, Cheverus took an eight-match win streak, a 10-1 record and the No. 2 ranking into Monday’s home showdown against 10-time champion Falmouth, which had won 168 matches in a row.

Portland was eighth at 5-6 after 3-2 losses last week to Scarborough and Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs closed Monday at South Portland.

Deering was 2-9 and was clinging to the 12th and final playoff spot in the region going into Monday’s match at home against MGA.

MGA was 2-8 and 14th at press time entering Monday’s match against Deering.

The playoffs begin with the preliminary round Tuesday of next week on the courts of the higher seeds.

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.