Title dreams still alive as spring sports season enters final week-Portland edition

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Portland’s Henry Westphal completes a double play during the Bulldogs’ 9-6 loss at Gorham in Saturday’s Class A South semifinal.

Portland’s Sam Shaw celebrates one of his four goals during the Bulldogs’ 12-6 home win over Windham in Friday’s Class A North semifinal.

Waynflete’s LZ Olney shoots and scores one of her four goals during the Flyers’ 6-5 loss at Greely in Saturday’s Class B state quarterfinal.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Gorham baseball, Portland-South Portland softball, Portland-Windham boys’ lacrosse and Portland-Oxford Hills and Waynflete-Greely girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

Tennis has crowned its champions (see story), 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:

Baseball

Cheverus’ baseball team was preparing to play in the Class A South Final at press time.

The Stags, ranked fourth in the region, pulled away to down No. 12 Deering, 11-1, in six-innings in the quarterfinals Thursday, then rallied for a riveting 5-4 victory over No. 9 Falmouth in Saturday’s semifinal round.

The Rams had upset No. 5 Biddeford, 6-2, in the preliminary round last Tuesday thanks to a five-run seventh inning, sparked by Bobby Ridge’s two-run go-ahead single. Luc Harrison had three hits and earned the victory in relief.

“All heart,” said Ridge, a senior left fielder. “We all kept our heads in the game and we came back.”

“It just goes to show you the perseverance these guys have where they just don’t let things take them out of their game,” said Deering coach Josh Stowell.

In the quarterfinals, the Rams took an early 1-0 lead at Cheverus on Luke Hill’s RBI single, but the Stags scored twice in the fourth, once in the fifth and ended the game via the mercy rule with eight runs in the sixth. Conner MacDonald earned the win, while John Welch had two hits and two RBI.

Deering, which got two hits from Ridge, ended the year 8-10.

Cheverus then met Falmouth, the two-time defending regional champion, which had upset No. 8 Marshwood and top-ranked South Portland to advance. The Stags carried a 3-1 lead to the seventh, when the Yachtsmen scored three times to put Cheverus on the ropes.

But the Stags refused to go home. Griffin Watson and Cam Dube hit back-to-back, one-out singles. Following a groundout, Maxx St. John was intentionally walked to load the bases. Andrew DeGeorge’s hard-hit single up the middle then scored Watson and Dube, who slid headfirst to barely beat the tag, to win it in breathtaking fashion, 5-4.

“I was sitting in the dugout and was thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get up,’” DeGeorge said. “Thankfully my teammates put me in the position to (make the play).”

“DeGeorge has been hot lately,” Cheverus coach Mac McKew said. “St. John is the top hitter in the league, (Falmouth) Coach (Kevin) Winship had to walk him. It’s the right move. It was up to DeGeorge to deliver and he did.”

The Stags improved to 13-5, as they extended their win streak to 10 games, and they battled No. 2 Gorham (14-4) in the regional final Tuesday evening at St. Joseph’s College in Standish (see theforecaster.net for game story).

Cheverus fell at home to the Rams, 5-2, in its regular season opener April 20. The Stags beat the Rams, 5-1, in last year’s semifinal round in the only prior playoff encounter.

If Cheverus reaches the state final (Saturday at 1 p.m., at St. Joe’s) for the first time since winning it all in 2011, the Stags will either meet three-time defending champion Bangor (17-1) or Oxford Hills (15-3). Cheverus has no playoff history with the Rams. The Stags outlasted the Vikings, 16-15, in eight-innings, in the 1986 Western A preliminary round in the teams’ only prior encounter.

Portland, the No. 3 seed in Class A South, held off No. 6 Windham, 3-1, in the Class A South quarterfinal round last Thursday, then lost, 9-6, at No. 2 Gorham in Saturday’s semifinals to finish 13-5.

In the win over the Eagles, Donnie Tocci earned his seventh victory and had a pair of hits and two RBI.

The Bulldogs’ usually excellent defense abandoned them in the loss to the Rams, as seven errors spelled defeat. Portland did get two hits, two runs scored and two RBI from Cam King.

“Before the game, we talked about great defense, good pitching and timely hitting, but we only had two out of three,” said Portland coach Mike Rutherford. “They gave us extra outs, but they got more runs than we did.

“We have sophomores and juniors coming back and our pitchers coming back and they have to learn from this disappointment. We’ll be one of the favorites, if not the favorite (next year).”

Softball

Portland’s softball team, the lone city squad to make the playoffs, was the number eight seed in Class A South and advanced with a 2-0 preliminary round win over South Portland before being eliminated, 7-1, by top-ranked, defending champion Scarborough in the quarterfinals.

Against the Red Riots, the Bulldogs broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth, as Alexis Fiore tripled and Mackenzie Bryant singled her in.

“I felt that would start us off and we’d keep the momentum,” Fiore said.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jess Brown doubled and Laini Legere tripled for an insurance run. Brown threw a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.

“I felt strong out there,” said Brown. “Sometimes I do better in the cold than in the heat. It was lucky for me to have this sort of a day.”

“I think this proves that maybe some of our losses didn’t reflect how good we are as a team,” Legere said.

“The girls wanted this one because we gave them one the last time we played them,” Ferrante added.

Against Scarborough, Brown hit a first inning home run, but the Red Storm answered with seven runs and ended Portland’s season at 10-8.

Boys’ lacrosse

Portland and Waynflete’s boys’ lacrosse teams were still alive at press time.

The Bulldogs, one season removed from a 2-10 campaign, lost just once this spring and finished second in Class A North, earning a bye into the semifinals Friday evening against No. 3 Windham, the only team to beat Portland this year.

This time around, the Bulldogs wouldn’t be denied, racing to a 4-0 lead after one quarter, thanks in part to three goals from Sam Shaw and three big saves from goalie Aaron Hoekstra. The Eagles got as close as 9-6 in the fourth quarter, but Portland scored the final three goals to advance, 12-6, behind four goals apiece from Shaw and Miki Silva and nine saves from Hoekstra.

“We’ve waited too long to not come out with a win here,” Hoekstra said. “The past two years were really disappointing seasons, nothing really went our way, but no one was going to stop us today. It was a chance to rewrite the whole script.”

“I’ve had some good wins in hockey, but nothing is sweeter than this win,” Shaw said. “It’s my favorite win in my entire career. We don’t usually start out fast. Sometimes that comes back to bite us. Today, the fast start was huge and we had a fairly substantial lead most of the game. We were feeling the adrenaline. We were fired up.”

“This means everything to the program,” added Bulldogs coach Mike DiFusco. “When you have rough years, it’s tough, but when you start winning, the kids get motivated and they reap the benefits. The senior class has been through it all, highs and lows. They came in this year hungry, confident and wanting to play for each other. They deserve it. I’m really proud of them.”

Portland goes to top-ranked Falmouth (12-1) for the regional final Wednesday night. The Bulldogs didn’t face the Yachtsmen this spring and the teams have no postseason history.

If Portland advances to the Class A state final for the first time since 2010, it will return to its home field at Fitzpatrick Stadium to face either Thornton Academy (13-0) or Cape Elizabeth (10-3) Saturday at a time to be announced.

The Bulldogs didn’t meet either team this year. Portland has no postseason history with the Golden Trojans. The Bulldogs lost, 12-4, to Cape Elizabeth in the 2005 West Region Final in the only prior playoff encounter.

Waynflete, the No. 4 seed in Class C, trailed No. 5 Oak Hill at halftime of last Thursday’s state quarterfinal, but rallied for a 13-6 victory to improve to 9-4. Hank Duvall led the way with four goals, while Miles Lipton and Zane Moorhead each scored three times. The Flyers advanced to meet top-ranked North Yarmouth Academy (9-4) in Tuesday’s state semifinal in Yarmouth. On May 9, Waynflete dropped a 9-8 decision at the Panthers. The teams had no playoff history.

If the Flyers advance to the inaugural Class C state game, Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, at a time to be announced, they would face either No. 2 Fryeburg Academy (12-1) or third-ranked Lincoln Academy (12-1). Waynflete didn’t play either team this spring. The Flyers have never played the Eagles in the postseason. They’re 2-0 all-time against the Raiders, with a 17-11 victory in the 2016 Class B South quarterfinals the most recent..

Deering, ranked fifth in Class A North, was eliminated, 15-9, by No. 4 Lewiston in the quarterfinals. The Rams got three goals from Omar Contreras, but finished 5-8.

Girls’ lacrosse

Cheverus’ girls’ squad will play for the Class A North title Wednesday at Falmouth. The Stags, seeded second in the region, earned a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round, where they took on No. 3 Portland.

The Bulldogs had advanced by virtue of a 12-6 home win over Oxford Hills in last Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. Morgan Kierstead and Annika More both had three goals and goalie Abby Krieckhaus made nine saves.

“I think we just figured out what we need to do,” said Kierstead. “We were a little frantic having a home playoff game. We took a deep breath and figured it out.”

“What makes our team unique is that we have players who are good everywhere and we play to our strengths and we utilize ourselves as a team, not individual players,” Krieckhaus said.

“For us, this season has been about doing it as a team and not having one or two stars,” added Portland coach Beth Broderick. “I’m really excited about how we worked together.”

The Bulldogs, who lost at home to Cheverus in the regular season, had an early lead at the Stags Saturday in the semifinals, but Cheverus gradually pulled away to prevail, 13-8. Aisling Flaherty had four goals and Bella Booth three.

“What was going through my head was that we had to have higher intensity than they did,” Booth said. “That’s when you feel the adrenaline rushing through you, and you just want it.”

“The thing that really factored into our success today was that nobody got down on each other,” Cheverus coach Bill Fenton said. “Everybody was up, everybody makes everybody look good. That’s one of our mottoes: Make your teammates look good.”

The Stags (9-4) lost, 14-9, at the Yachtsmen (11-2) May 16. The teams have no playoff history.

If Cheverus advances to its first state final since 2015, it will battle either Kennebunk (13-0) or Massabesic (12-1) Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, at a time to be announced. The Stags lost, 16-7, at Kennebunk May 10 and didn’t face the Mustangs this year. Cheverus is 0-2 all-time against the Rams in the playoffs, with a 10-5 loss in the 2007 Western B Final the most recent. The Stags are 2-1 all-time against Massabesic, with a 9-8, five-overtime loss in the 2014 Class A state game the most recent.

Portland got three goals from Isabella More in its loss to Cheverus in the semifinals as it finished the season 10-4.

“We got beat down the stretch, but I appreciate that (the girls) worked hard until the end,” Broderick said. “Cheverus is a very good team. I think they’re peaking at a great point in the season.”

In Class B, Waynflete, ranked sixth, nearly pulled off an upset at third-ranked Greely in the state quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. The Flyers, behind four goals from LZ Olney, led 5-3 with under 10 minutes to play, but the Rangers closed with three unanswered goals and prevailed, 6-5, to end Waynflete’s season at 6-7.

“I can’t say something didn’t work, they just wanted it, but we wanted it too,” longtime Flyers coach Cathie Connors said. “The girls fought right to the end. We had chances. Things just didn’t go our way. I’m really proud of them. I have no regrets.”

In Class C, Maine Girls’ Academy made the playoffs for the first time in three years and just the second time since 2005. The Lions, ranked seventh, went to No. 2 St. Dom’s in the state quarterfinals Friday and despite four goals from Catherine Reid, had no answers for the powerhouse Saints, losing, 20-4, to finish 5-8.

“We knew what we were up against, certainly,” Lions coach Eric Wales said. “Their offense is tough.”

Outdoor track

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

Cheverus’ Victoria Bossong was runner-up in the girls’ 400 (56.27 seconds). Emma Gallant was fourth in the 400 (57.41). Emma White finished seventh in the triple jump (36 feet, 7.5 inches) and 17th in the long jump (16-9.25). The Stags’ 4×400 relay team (Bossong, White, Helena Bolduc and Gallant) finished sixth (4 minutes, 1.61 seconds).

Deering’s Annah Rossvall placed 12th in the 300 hurdles (46.49).

Portland’s Jaidyn Appel was 12th in the high jump (5-3).

On the boys’ side, Cheverus’ Owen Burke came in 12th in the 400 (50.94) and 29th in the 200 (23.42). Teammate Sean Tompkins was 14th in the 200 (22.67) and 17th in the 100 (11.67). Christian Gilliam was 24th in the javelin (145-6). Giovanni Fornaro came in 29th in the discus (116-1). The Stags’ 4×400 relay team (Burke, Alex Baur, Joe Baur and Tompkins) came in 21st (3:35.57).

Deering’s Alec Troxell placed 16th in the mile (4:26.96).

Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich and Press Herald writers Mike Lowe, Brad Spiegel and Taylor Vortherms 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.