By Brad Spiegel / firstname.lastname@example.org June 8, 2019
SOUTH PORTLAND — There are heartbreaking losses. And then there is Marshwood High School baseball’s defeat at the hands of Class A South top-seed South Portland on Saturday at Wainwright Sports Complex.T he Hawks stymied the Red Riots for five innings after yielding two in the first, but a two-run rally — on no hits — lifted the home team to a 4-2 victory in a semifinal matchup.
Marshwood ends the season 13-7, having won seven of its final nine games, the lone losses to South Portland and Thornton Academy, the two top teams in the South.
“I told the boys they break the golden rule that a successful season is only measured by winning the last game you play,” Marshwood coach Eric Fernandes said. “These guys transcended that. These guys turned the season around. They started to believe in themselves and then things took off. They were truly an impressive group.”
South Portland (17-2) scratched out two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead 4-2 on two hit by pitches, a balk, an error and two walks (one intentionally).
With senior Connor Caverly on the mound for Marshwood (after relieving starter John Riccardi with one out in the first) the Red Riots worked counts and played small ball. A walk, sacrifice bunt and hit by pitch set up a suicide squeeze bunt by Anthony Perron to score Gus Lappin with the first run. An intentional walk — after a balk — re-loaded the bases before a second hit by pitch plated Gerik Bialorucki to make the score 4-2.
“The way the league is and way offenses are, you cant just pound teams. It just doesn’t happen,” South Portland coach Mike Owens said. “We try to take advantage of mistakes (and) move runners up when we can. We got the balk call and that was big to get us into a squeeze situation. You know, it was good to see them execute the small things that we needed to.”
The winning rally was a tough outcome for Caverly, who had pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief up to that point.
The senior catcher, who will be playing for the University of Maine in the fall, hadn’t pitched in his first two years on varsity and the five innings of relief was easily his most this season.
“I just started pitching two weeks ago, but that’s not an excuse,” Caverly said. “I just couldn’t find the strike zone (in the sixth inning). I wanted to keep going but I knew when (Fernandes) came out it was the right choice.”
The Hawks entered the game with plenty of confidence having handed the Red Riots their only two losses on the season — 2-1 and 1-0. But, neither of those came against South Portland’s ace Hunter Owen.
The 6-fopot-5 lefty, who will be attending Vanderbilt, was placing both his 83-85 mph fastball and his looping curveball. He finished with 12 strikeouts while allowing only five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
With Owen’s pitch count at 113 he came out in favor of Lappin, who snuffed out the Hawks’ seventh inning threat after Jay Lyman and Eli Janetos (3-for-4) put together back-to-back singles with two outs. On Lappin’s first pitch Perron tracked down Trevor Chase’s fly to short centerfield.
Marshwood cut into a 2-0 deficit in the third inning. Janetos singled, moved to second on Chase’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Owen’s pickoff attempt at second base scooted into centerfield.
The following inning Caverly launched a first-pitch fastball over the left field fence to tie the game 2-all. It was the first earned run Owen has allowed all season.
“All year I’ve slumped and I haven’t really been hitting well,” Caverly said. “I checked this game off that I wanted to be ready for him. I guess I was (with the home run).”
In the top of the sixth it appeared the Hawks would take the lead. With Caverly on second base Marshall Smaracko launched a deep fly over leftfielder Dylan Bolduc’s head — the same spot as Caverly’s homer. But the speedy outfielder made an over-the-shoulder grab on the warning track.
The Red Riots scored twice in the first when Anthony Poole doubled and Noah Lewis singled with one out. Fernandes put in Caverly who promptly uncorked a wild pitch to plate Poole. Caverly yielded a walk and struck out Owen before Caden Horton hit an opposite-field RBI single.