Title dreams still alive as spring sports season enters final days-Southern edition

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Scarborough senior captains Chloe Griffin, left, and Laura Powell show off the Class A South regional title plaque following Wednesday’s dramatic 3-2, nine-inning win over Thornton Academy. The Red Storm meet Oxford Hills in the state game Saturday.

South Portland’s Noah McHugh fields a ground ball during last week’s 4-2 upset loss to Falmouth in a Class A South quarterfinal round contest.

Cape Elizabeth’s Isabel Berman returns a shot during last week’s 5-0 loss to Lincoln Academy in the Class B South Final.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth-Greely and South Portland-Falmouth baseball and Scarborough-Thornton Academy softball game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

Tennis has crowned its champions, the outdoor track season culminated Saturday with the New England meet and baseball, softball and lacrosse will bring the curtain down on the spring sports campaign with their state games Saturday.

The end is in sight, but there is still plenty of drama to come.

Here’s a glimpse:

Softball

Scarborough’s perennial powerhouse softball team is one victory from a repeat championship, but the Red Storm’s road to the state final came with one enormous obstacle.

The Red Storm, who went 16-0 and extended their regular season win streak to 89, took the top seed into the Class A South tournament and dispatched No. 8 Portland (7-1) in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Massabesic (10-0) in the semifinals.

Against the Bulldogs, Courtney Brochu and Hunter Greenleaf homered and Chloe Griffin threw a two-hitter with seven strikeouts. In the win over the Mustangs, after getting out of a jam with the score 1-0 in the top of the fifth, Scarborough put it away with nine runs in the bottom half. Greenleaf had two hits and three RBI and Lindsey Kelley drove in two runs. Griffin had 11 strikeouts.

“I think it was really important just for the team in general to break it open, but I think my role on the team is specifically to show good leadership and show the girls what we’re capable of, so those hits were really big,” said Greenleaf. 

“I was real proud of my kids, they hung tough,” said Red Storm coach Tom Griffin, who earned his 450th victory with the program. “They looked confident and they were making good swings and putting the ball in play.”

Tuesday afternoon, in the Class A South Final at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Scarborough met No. 3 Thornton Academy, the squad that gave the Red Storm their biggest scare in the regular season (a 3-1 Scarborough home win May 17). The teams had met six previous times in the playoffs with the Red Storm taking five of those games.

This time around, Scarborough prevailed again, but it took nine grueling innings to do so.

Emily Jefferds singled in Kelley with the game’s first run in the second, but the Golden Trojans tied it with an unearned run in the third. Greenleaf singled in Bella Dickinson for a 2-1 lead in the fifth, but again, Thornton Academy answered, tying the game in the sixth. The Red Storm weren’t able to put it away until the bottom of the ninth, as Dickinson singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and after Powell walked, Chloe Griffin ended it with an RBI single, scoring Dickinson for a palpitating 3-2 victory.

“I just wanted to go home,” Dickinson said. “I had a ton of confidence in Chloe. I just ran. It was everything I ever dreamed of.”

“I like pressure situations,” Chloe Griffin said. “That’s what I dream of. I was pumped when I got to be up. I knew I just had to put (the ball) in play on the ground. I knew it was through and I knew (Bella would) score. It was a relief. I felt like if we had to go back out there (for the 10th inning), we’d be OK, but they had good hitters coming up and I felt like that was our time with the top of our order up.”

“What an unbelievable game by both teams,” Tom Griffin added. “It’s a shame someone had to lose. We knew we had to get through Thornton Academy. They’re a great team and they played a perfect game. Fortunately, we hung in there and were up to the task.”

Scarborough (19-0) will look to go back-to-back as state champions for the first time in the program’s illustrious history Saturday at 4 p.m. at St. Joe’s against Oxford Hills (16-3), which knocked off defending regional champion Skowhegan in its regional final. The Red Storm and Vikings have no playoff history. 

“We want to win extremely badly,” Dickinson said. “We’re trying to get that win for the seniors. We just need to stay focused and keep working in practice.”

“It’s a mental game from here on out,” said Chloe Griffin. “It’s going to be who’s mentally locked in. Our team has played in big situations, so I’m not worried about it. I’m pumped to get the ball again.”

“We don’t know anything about Oxford Hills,” Tom Griffin added. “We’ll throw Chloe. She’ll be well rested. We have senior experience. Hopefully we have one more (win) in us.”

Cape Elizabeth, the No. 9 seed in Class B South, upset eighth-ranked Yarmouth, 4-3, in the preliminary round, but last Thursday, the Capers were ousted in heartbreaking fashion, 9-8, in eight-innings, at top-ranked Wells to finish 9-9. Cape Elizabeth was behind, 8-1, going to the fifth inning, where it scored three times. The Capers then added four runs in the seventh to force extra innings before falling just short. Anna Cornell had three hits.

Baseball

Cape Elizabeth and South Portland’s baseball teams both saw their title dreams come to a disappointing end last week.

The Red Riots, the top seed in Class A South, lost their very first playoff game, 4-2, to No. 9 Falmouth in the quarterfinals, as shaky defense spelled the difference. South Portland left seven runners on base.

“I had confidence that we’d come back,” Red Riots coach Mike Owens said. “We hit some balls hard right at guys and they made plays. We just didn’t hit enough today. You can’t expect to win 2-1. We didn’t get hits when we needed to.

“I’m so proud of this group. We had 11 seniors who put in a lot of work and we relied on them for leadership. After a few days, we’ll realize how special a run this was and how special a group this was. We have a lot of young guys we relied on coming back, especially pitchers. They understand the work it takes and hopefully, we’ll come out on top next time.”

The Capers, ranked second in Class B South, managed to outlast defending champion Yarmouth, the No. 7 seed, in the quarterfinals, 6-5, in nine-innings, then lost, 8-2, to third-ranked Greely in Saturday’s semifinal round.

Against the Clippers, Cape Elizabeth got a great start from Sean Agrodnia, who didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth or a hit until the sixth, but the Capers let a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning slip away, sending the game to extra innings. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Carson Sullivan singled with the bases loaded to score Brendan Tinsman to end it.

“I hadn’t gotten a hit all game and I knew I had to get one there,” Sullivan said. “I made sure I hit it on the ground and didn’t pop it up. I was just hauling to first and I heard the yells.”

“All he had to do was put the ball in play and avoid the double play and he did what he had to do,” Tinsman said.

“That was absolutely crazy,” added Capers coach Andy Wood. “It was a well-played game. For them to battle back, you have to feel for them. It was a great game to be a part of. It was a game of momentum. We knew Yarmouth would never give up.”

Cape Elizabeth couldn’t generate any offense against Greely until the bottom of the sixth inning, when it trailed 4-0. With two outs and no one on, the Capers loaded the bases and Sullivan and Finn Bowe drove in runs, bringing Tinsman to the plate. Tinsman made contact, but flew out to deep right to end the threat. The Rangers added four more in the seventh and ended the Capers’ season at 12-6.

“This is where we wanted to be, competing against Greely in front of a big crowd, but we just got outplayed,” Wood lamented. “We left too many runners on. We had big situations, but we couldn’t get a big hit. We kept battling until the final out.

“You can’t replace a Brendan Tinsman or Finn Bowe. Those guys are top-notch kids. It’s been a great group for the past four years. We lose seven starters. We enjoyed being out here every day. It stinks to have nothing to do tomorrow. We’ll have a different look next year.”

Boys’ lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team was still alive at press time. The Capers, the defending Class B state champion, ranked second in Class A South, got pushed for a half by No. 6 Gorham in Saturday’s semifinal round (Cape Elizabeth had a bye into that round), but the Capers broke open a 3-3 tie and went on to a 12-4 victory behind five goals from Phil Tarling and three from Jacob Brydson. 

Cape Elizabeth went to No. 1 Thornton Academy (13-0) for the regional final Wednesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story). On April 27, the Capers lost, 11-10, in double-overtime in Saco. The teams had no playoff history.

If Cape Elizabeth gets to its first Class A state final Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, it will play either Falmouth (12-1) or Portland (12-1). The Capers lost, 14-8, at the Yachtsmen May 4 and didn’t meet the Bulldogs this spring. Cape Elizabeth is 6-3 all-time against Falmouth in the playoffs, with a 6-5 victory in last year’s Class B South Final the most recent. The Capers won the only previous playoff encounter against the Bulldogs, 12-4, in the 2005 West Region Final.

South Portland, the number five seed in Class A South, had no trouble at No. 4 Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, winning, 15-1, but Saturday, at top-ranked Thornton Academy, the Red Riots were eliminated, 13-4, as they finished 8-6. Cooper Mehlhorn scored twice, but South Portland fell behind, 6-1, after one quarter and never made a run.

“To get down 6-1 in the first quarter was tough for us,” said Red Riots coach Tom Fiorini. “The whole rest of the game we only gave up seven goals, so that first quarter was really the telling story. We had two or three really good looks at the cage and just didn’t finish.”

Girls’ lacrosse

Cape Elizabeth’s girls, ranked second in Class B, got a scare from No. 7 York in Saturday’s state quarterfinal, but went on a 7-0 second half run to prevail, 12-7. Susie Graham led the way with four goals, while Chloe Chapin and Emily Healy each scored three times. 

The Capers (8-5) advanced to host No. 3 Greely (9-4) in the state semifinals Wednesday. On June 2, the Rangers eked out an 11-10 double-overtime decision at home. Cape Elizabeth won two of three prior playoff meetings, with a 17-10 victory in the 2013 Western B semifinals the most recent.

If the Capers advanced to the Class B state final for the first time since 2014, it would meet either top-ranked Yarmouth (11-2) or No. 4 Messalonskee (9-4) Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Cape Elizabeth won, 18-10, at the Eagles May 5 and lost, 9-6, to the visiting Clippers May 9. The Capers are 0-2 all-time against Yarmouth in the playoffs, with a 13-10 setback in the 2014 state final the most recent. Cape Elizabeth has never faced Messalonskee in the postseason.

South Portland, the No. 4 seed in Class A South, downed No. 5 Gorham, 8-4, in the quarterfinals, then was eliminated, 16-6, by top-ranked Kennebunk in Saturday’s semifinal round to finish 6-8. 

Tennis

Both Cape Elizabeth tennis teams lost in the Class B South Final last week.

The Capers boys, ranked fifth, were knocked off, 4-1, by No. 2 Freeport to wind up 9-6. Sam Berman and Sam Roberts won the lone point, taking second doubles in three sets.

“(Freeport coach) Jay (Harper) has done a real nice job with these guys, and this is a dream of theirs to even get here,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Andy Strout. “That is a great team.

“I lost my top five players from last year, and some of these guys hadn’t been on the court in any type of competition before. They did a great job all year long and we played the best at the end of the season. That is all a coach can ask for.”

Cape Elizabeth’s girls, the No. 3 seed, were blanked, 5-0, by top-ranked Lincoln Academy, the eventual state champion, and finished the year 12-3.

Outdoor track

The track season came to a close for select local athletes last weekend in Durham, New Hampshire.

Cape Elizabeth’s Darcy Cochran capped her tremendous season by placing third in both the 100 hurdles (14.91 seconds) and 300 hurdles (45.39). 

Scarborough’s Emily Labbe finished eighth in the 100 hurdles (16.81). Anna Gardner placed 13th in the pole vault (9 feet-9 inches).

South Portland’s Anna Folley was 14th in the 800 (2 minutes, 19.39 seconds). Kaleisha Towle came in 14th in the 300 hurdles (47.63). 

Scarborough’s Anthony Clavette placed was 11th in the boys’ high jump (6-3) and 23rd in the 110 hurdles (16.37). Drew Gardner came in 12th in the pole vault (12-6).

South Portland’s Joseph Emery placed 23rd in the 300 hurdles (42.96). 

Journal Tribune staff writer Pat McDonald, Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig and Times Record staff writer Bob Conn contributed to this story.

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.