Time to think playoffs; Spring season winds down-Portland edition

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Deering’s Luc Harrison makes contact during the Rams’ 2-1 home loss to South Portland Saturday.

Portland’s Grace Cox sends the ball up the field as Maine Girls’ Academy’s Catherine Reid looks on during the Bulldogs’ 11-6 win over the Lions last week.

(For the complete Portland-Cheverus and Deering-South Portland baseball, Portland-Biddeford softball, Cheverus-Scarborough boys’ lacrosse and Portland-MGA girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

The team tennis regular season is coming to a close, the track conference championship meets are on tap for this coming weekend and the baseball, softball and lacrosse regular seasons are winding down as well, meaning the most highly anticipated part of the spring campaign, the postseason, is right around the corner.

Here’s a glimpse at all the action that transpired last week, as well as what’s to come:

Baseball

Portland’s baseball team has been flying under the radar so far this spring, but the Bulldogs emerged as a full-fledged contender last week as they extended their win streak to seven by downing host Westbrook (8-1) and handing visiting Cheverus its first defeat, 3-1. Against the Blue Blazes, Donnie Tocci earned his third win, Dom Tocci and Will Snyder had three hits apiece and Cam King drove in three runs. In the win over the Stags, Gio Ruotolo improved to 5-0 after throwing a four-hitter and Donnie Tocci delivered a clutch RBI triple to put Portland ahead to stay.

“They went into the game thinking they were going to come out on top and I went in thinking I’d come out on top,” Ruotolo said. “I knew I was undefeated on the mound and I knew I had a great defense. I knew someone would leave today no longer undefeated and I think I wanted it a little bit more than they did.”

“As Portland kids, we don’t really like Cheverus and I don’t think they like us either,” Donnie Tocci said. “The rivalry is huge. We flew under the radar and came in and won.”

“It’s a great win,” added Bulldogs coach Mike Rutherford. “If they hit the ball, we fielded it. That’s our strength.”

Portland (9-2 and fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) hosted Biddeford Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), welcomes Thornton Academy Thursday (see theforecaster.net for game story), goes to Gorham Saturday, hosts Noble Tuesday of next week and finishes at Deering May 31.

Cheverus beat host Noble, 6-2, last Tuesday, behind three hits from Justin Ray and a strong pitching effort from Conner MacDonald. Last Thursday, the Stags won their 11th straight game, 11-1, in five-innings, over visiting Sanford, as Dom Casale, Jack Casale and Maxx St. John all had three hits and Jack Mullen allowed five hits. Saturday, the Stags fell to 11-1 with a 3-1 loss at Portland. Jack Casale drove in a run and Jared Brooks was the hard-luck loser as Cheverus’ six-game streak of not making an error came to an end in haunting fashion.

“We hit a lot of balls hard and they were positioned properly,” said Cheverus coach Mac McKew. “That’s playoff-type baseball. That’s what we’ll face down the road. We might as well get used to it now and get ready to make those plays.”

Cheverus (second to Falmouth in Class A South) was at Westbrook Tuesday, hosts Scarborough Thursday and Massabesic Saturday before closing at Biddeford Monday of next week.

Deering sandwiched losses at Windham (5-3) and at home to South Portland (2-1) around a 5-4 home victory over Marshwood last week. Despite getting a pair of hit from James Sinclair, the Rams let a 3-1 sixth inning lead slip away at the Eagles. In the win, Sinclair earned the victory, Keegan Stanton had two hits and Rob Dacey had two RBI. Against the Red Riots, Riley Bartell was the hard-luck loser and Deering stranded seven runners.

“We battled to the end,” said Rams coach Josh Stowell. “There were a couple spots where things didn’t bounce our way and it didn’t quite work out for us today. It all comes down to execution.”

Deering (5-6 and ninth in Class A South) was at Sanford Tuesday, goes to Noble Thursday, hosts Thornton Academy Saturday, Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week and Portland May 31 to close the regular season.

In Class C South, Waynflete fell to 0-9 and 13th after losses at St. Dom’s (3-2) and Sacopee Valley (20-0, in five-innings) and at home to Sacopee Valley (15-0, in five-innings). The Flyers were home with Traip Academy Monday, go to Old Orchard Beach Wednesday and finish at home against Gray-New Gloucester Thursday.

Softball

Portland’s softball team began the week 12-1 and second to powerhouse Scarborough in the Class A South Heals after winning at Marshwood (2-0) and Biddeford (8-4) and at home over Deering (7-2) last week. In the win over the Hawks, ace Jess Brown threw a five-hitter and doubled and scored the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning. Against the Tigers, Brown hit a bases-clearing double to open up a 5-1 lead, but gave up back-to-back home runs to make it a one-run game before Taylor Crosby hit a clutch RBI double and Kit Rosmus followed with a two-run single to provide some breathing room. Rosmus and Morgan Boyle had three hits and Brown went the distance.

“We’re resilient,” Brown said. “We’re generating more offense than we did last year. Our defense has been solid and our offense has come along.”

“We’re very confident in ourselves this year,” Crosby said. “We’ve had a similar team for a couple years. We know what we can do. We know how to win.”

“We got out in front and (Biddeford) didn’t quit,” Portland coach Robbie Ferrante added. “I didn’t think they would. They’re a good hitting team.”

The Bulldogs were then tested by Deering, as they only led 1-0 into the sixth inning before pulling away. Crosby singled, tripled and drove in two runs and Brown threw a three-hitter. Portland hosted Gorham Monday, welcomes Windham on Senior Night Wednesday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and closes at Bonny Eagle Friday.

The Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth co-op team was 4-8 and 13th (12 teams make the playoffs when the week began) after a 9-2 home loss to Thornton Academy, a 5-3 win at Sanford and a 7-4 setback at Windham. Liberty Ladd had a pair of hits against the Golden Trojans. In the victory, Elizabeth Kennedy homered. Ladd hit two home runs and Megan Faucher also went deep against the Eagles. After hosting South Portland Monday, the Sea Lions welcomed Biddeford for a makeup game Tuesday, visit Noble Wednesday and close at home versus Deering Friday.

Deering has played much better as the season nears its close and almost earned a signature victory last week. After a 4-2 home loss to South Portland (MacKenzie O’Donnell had three hits in defeat) and a 20-4 (five-inning) setback at Thornton Academy, the Rams welcomed rival Portland Friday and nine days after losing decisively to the Bulldogs, had them on the ropes. Deering only trailed, 1-0, entering the sixth inning after having great opportunities to score in the fourth and fifth, but couldn’t push a run across. Portland eventually opened it up and went on to a 7-2 victory (Kaylee Helmick had a pair of hits and pitched well in defeat), but the Rams might have turned the corner with their effort.

“To come here and take these guys seven innings tonight is great,” said Deering first-year coach John Coyne. “These guys are spirited. I’m happy we’re ending strong. They’re starting to see they can compete. We’ve made defensive changes that have worked out well for us and our bats have come alive. They’re believing now.”

Deering (1-11 and 16th in the region) was home versus Massabesic Monday, welcomes Bonny Eagle in its Senior Game Wednesday, goes to Westbrook Thursday and closes at MGA/Falmouth Friday.

The Cheverus/North Yarmouth Academy co-op team began the week 0-13 and 17th in Class A South after falling at home to Biddeford (20-12) and Bonny Eagle (12-7) and at Westbrook (15-7). Sydney Plummer singled, doubled, hit a grand slam and drove in eight runs in the loss to the Tigers. Plummer and Ally Tillotson had multiple hits against the Scots and Tillotson doubled, tripled and drove in two runs in the loss to the Blue Blazes. The Stags were home with Noble Monday, go to South Portland Wednesday and close at Sanford Friday.

Boys’ lacrosse

Cheverus’ boys’ lacrosse team started the week 6-3 and fourth in the Class A North Heals after an 11-3 loss at defending Class A champion Scarborough and an 18-3 home victory over Noble. Goalie Sean Walsh made 17 saves against the Red Storm, but it wasn’t enough.

“Sean’s a very good goalie,” said Stags coach Bill Bodwell. “I think he’s the best in the league this year. He gave us a chance.”

Max Coffin scored five times and Finn Cawley and Chris St. John added three goals apiece in the victory. Cheverus was home against Westbrook Tuesday, plays at Portland Friday and closes at Marshwood Wednesday of next week.

Deering was 5-4 and in the seventh spot in Class A North (eight teams qualify for the playoffs) after a 19-4 win at Bonny Eagle and a 17-7 loss at South Portland last week. In the victory, Nate Richards had six goals, Nick James scored four times and Omar Contreras added three goals. Against the Red Riots, James had three goals and Richards added two, but the Rams fell behind early and never made a serious run.

“We had  lot of mental breakdowns tonight,” said Deering coach Jon Dubois. “We had three days of practice and put a lot of things in specifically for this game, but it wasn’t in the cards for us tonight.”

The Rams went to Massabesic Monday, welcome Windham Friday and close at home versus Noble Tuesday of next week.

Portland fell to 2-7 and 10th in Class A North after Friday’s 8-7 overtime home loss to Bonny Eagle. Wes Bryan and Reilly O’Brien both had two goals. The Bulldogs were home with South Portland Tuesday and host Cheverus Friday before closing at Massabesic Tuesday of next week.

In Class B South, Waynflete fell to 2-6 and eighth (six teams make the playoffs) after a 22-0 loss at Cape Elizabeth Friday. The Flyers were at Wells Tuesday, host NYA Friday and York Tuesday of next week before closing at St. Dom’s June 1.

Girls’ lacrosse

On the girls’ side, Waynflete began the week seventh in the deep and balanced Class B South, where just six teams qualify for the playoffs. Last Tuesday, the Flyers improved to 5-3 with an 8-5 win at St. Dom’s. Laura Baginski and LZ Olney both scored twice. Izzy Burdick added four assists. Waynflete began a make-or-break four-game closing stretch Monday at home versus Lake Region in a playoff rematch (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Flyers host Cape Elizabeth Wednesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), welcome Falmouth on Senior Day Tuesday of next week and close the regular season at defending Class B state champion Kennebunk June 1.

In Class A North, Cheverus was 3-6 and fourth in the Heals after losses to visiting Marshwood (9-5) and at Thornton Academy (11-5) last week. Mackenzie Johnston scored twice in both games. The Stags went to Scarborough Tuesday, host Gorham Friday and close at Maine Girls’ Academy Wednesday of next week.

Portland fell at home to Windham, 10-5, then downed visiting MGA, 11-6, last week. Annika More and Georgia Stoddard both scored three times in the victory.

“We tend to be a second half team and we thought the heat would get to us, but we stepped it up and we came out ready to go,” Stoddard said.

“We had good scoring balance,” Portland coach Beth Broderick said. “We’ve worked in practice on spreading the ball around. We have some new kids who have joined us.”

The Bulldogs (3-6 and eighth in the region, where eight teams make the playoffs) hosted Thornton Academy Tuesday, go to Bonny Eagle Thursday and close at Deering Tuesday of next week.

MGA was 4-5 and ninth after a 10-9 overtime home loss to Gorham and an 11-6 loss at Portland. Claire Reid score five goals and Zoe Mazur added four against the Rams. In the loss to the Bulldogs, Reid scored twice.

“It was pretty basic, we didn’t pass or catch,” Wales said.

The Lions went to Deering Tuesday and play at Windham Thursday before closing at home versus Cheverus Wednesday of next week.

Deering was 3-6 and 10th after a 7-6 home win over Westbrook and losses at home to South Portland (14-3) and at Lawrence (8-7). The Rams hosted MGA Tuesday, go to Sanford Thursday and close at home versus Portland Wednesday of next week.

Track

The outdoor track regular season came to a close Friday with the Cumberland County Championship meet in Scarborough.

Cheverus’ girls placed first with 136.5 points, holding off Scarborough (121) for top honors. Deering 33 (was seventh), Portland (15) was eighth and MGA (2) came in ninth.

The Stags got wins from Emma Gallant in the 200 (26.20 seconds) and 400 (59.14), Emma White in the long jump (17 feet, 4.5 inches), Hannah Abbott in the shot put (35-0) and discus (100-8) and their 4×400 relay team (4 minutes, 20.15 seconds). The Rams were led by Nicole Whipkey (runner-up in the 800, 2:32.26) and their second-place 4×800 relay team (10:47.27). The Bulldogs were paced by Ella Altidor (third in the 100, 13.20 and fifth in the 200, 28.10) and Maggie Hosmer (fourth in the 800, 2:35.65). The Lions’ point came from Sam Witkowski (fifth in the pole vault, 7-6).

In the boys’ competition, won by Scarborough with 152.666 points, Deering was second (143.333). Cheverus (56) came in fifth. Portland didn’t score.

The Rams got wins from Yahya Nure in the mile (4:46.45), Josh Paisley in the javelin (144-4) and their 4×800 relay team (8:43.28). The Stags were paced by Sean Tomkins (second in the 200, 23.69, and third in the 100, 11.33) and Taylor Grassi (second in the high jump, 5-4).

The Southwestern Maine Activities Association championship meet is Saturday in North Berwick.

Tennis

Portland’s boys’ tennis team won its nine matches, then dropped a 3-2 decision to defending Class A state champion Thornton Academy Friday. The Bulldogs began the week second to the Golden Trojans in the Class A South Heal Points standings and closed the regular season at Bonny Eagle and Westbrook. Cheverus began the week 6-4 and fifth. Deering was eighth at 7-4 heading into Monday’s home finale versus Windham. Nine-time defending state champion Waynflete was 9-1 and second behind Boothbay in Class C South heading into its final matches at NYA and Yarmouth.

On the girls’ side, Waynflete began the week 9-2 and fourth in Class C South. The Flyers closed at home versus NYA Monday. In Class A South, Cheverus was 8-3 and fifth entering Monday’s final match at South Portland. Deering sat sixth at 8-3 before closing at Windham Monday. Portland was 6-4 and seventh before hosting Bonny Eagle Tuesday. The Bulldogs close at home versus Westbrook Thursday. MGA was 2-9 and clinging to the 12th and final playoff spot in Class A South prior to Tuesday’s finale at Westbrook.

A pair of Portland tandems, Dana Hinchliffe and Jack Kovarik and Sam Mermin and Ian McCallum reached the final of the Southwestern Maine Activities Association boys’ doubles tournament. They were scheduled to square off for the crown Tuesday at Deering Oaks.

In the SMAA girls’ doubles championship, Portland’s Rose Watson and Erin Chadbourne got to the consolation final and lost to a tandem from Thornton Academy.

The state singles tournament continues this weekend in Waterville. The semifinals and championship matches will be held Monday in Lewiston.

The team tennis postseason starts with the preliminary round Tuesday of next week on the courts of the higher seeds. The quarterfinals are June 1.

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.