Hawks outlast South Portland, return to regional final
By NIK BEIMLER
Foster’s Daily Democrat
June 15, 2014 11:36 PM
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Surviving a marathon, 11-inning pitchers’ duel, the Marshwood High School baseball team booked a second chance at capturing the Western Maine Class A title.
Starter Zack Quintal gave his team 10 gutsy innings, and the fourth-seeded Hawks cracked top-seeded South Portland, 3-1, on Saturday to reach Tuesday’s regional final, their second trip in as many years.
“That was one of the finest baseball games and one of the finest teams we’ve played this year,” Marshwood coach Eric Fernandes said. “Defense on both sides kept it a low-scoring game, pitching kept it a low-scoring game. Both teams did everything they could to compete.”
Marshwood plated two runs in the top of the 11th, coming alive after seven consecutive scoreless innings. Zach Hodges drove home the go-ahead run with a single to left — then later stole home as the South Portland catcher mishandled a designed pitch-out.
Moments earlier, Fernandes called a timeout to chat with batter Jake Lebel, who was dealing with a 2-2 count. The message was clear on the ensuing pitch.
“I told him that (Hodges) was coming down the line,” Fernandes said of the meeting. “I told him that it was two strikes — and that he could not swing.”
It allowed Quintal to exit with a two-run lead. Kyle Parmley came on in relief and faced just three batters in the 11th to record the save.
Quintal scattered seven hits and two walks to pitch the Hawks to victory.
“He single-handedly kept this team in the game,” Fernandes said of the effort. “Because our guys believe in him, they went and extended themselves defensively.”
The Hawks turned four double plays in the game. In the bottom of the fifth, Hodges threw South Portland’s Chris Foley out at home after a single up the middle by Jon Vickers.
The defense stellar behind him, Quintal worked his way out of jams until his offense found a crack. The Hawks got there despite being out-hit in the game, 7-4.
“In the early innings, I was just doing my thing,” Quintal said. “Towards the second half of the game they were starting to hit me, but that’s why you have seven guys out in the field. They were hitting me towards the end and it was grit that got me through.”
Quintal also scored the game’s first run in the top of the third. He got into scoring position on pitcher Robert Graff’s errant pick-off throw and scored on Noah McDaniel’s groundout to shortstop.
Marshwood held the 1-0 lead until the sixth, when Sam Troiano doubled and later scored South Portland’s lone run on a passed ball. The game went to extra innings after seven, tied 1-1.
Graff, South Portland’s starter, recorded 15 strikeouts in his outing. The Hawks left only four runners on base while South Portland stranded nine.
“We made a couple baserunning mental errors and it kinda took us out of some innings,” South Portland coach Mike Owens said. “We just couldn’t come up with that two-out RBI. We had guys on base a lot and we just could not get that big hit.”
Next, the Hawks will try to take this run a step further than last season. They were the No. 2 seed in a 5-0 loss to fourth-seeded Westbrook in last year’s regional final.