SACO — It’s really simple, said John Provost, the softball coach at Thornton Academy.

“We are a very different team when we play defense,” he said.

Monday afternoon, the Trojans did just that. While they made two errors, the Trojans handled everything else and came away with a pivotal 1-0 nine-inning victory over rival Biddeford.

Kristen Duross singled in the game’s only run with no outs in the ninth to end a pitchers’ duel between Thornton’s Julia Geaumont and the Tigers’ Sarah Gilblair.

Geaumont allowed only two hits and struck out seven. Gilblair gave up five hits — three in the ninth — and struck out 10.

The victory lifted the fifth-ranked Trojans to 6-1 and came just two days after they lost 5-2 to top-ranked Scarborough. No. 3 Biddeford dropped its second in a row to fall to 6-2.

“It was an unbelievable performance by the two pitchers,” said Provost. “Those are two of the top dogs in the SMAA.”

“This was like a playoff game,” said Leon Paquin, coach of the Tigers. “It’s a taste of it, something they’ve got to look forward to. We just need to come through with a timely hit.”

Both coaches lauded Thornton’s defense, which has struggled at times, especially in big games. But Geaumont got the Tigers to ground out 14 times, as only one ball was hit out of the infield. Second baseman Chrissy Remmes handled six chances, turning one into a double play, and first baseman Hannah Ebling made a diving stab on a liner.

“Take your hat off to them,” said Paquin. “When they do that, when they pitch like that and play defense like that, they’ll win a lot of games. That’s softball.”

Biddeford had some chances but couldn’t break through. The best came in the top of the eighth.

With one out, Geaumont walked three consecutive batters, the last intentionally. “We wanted the force play,” said Provost.

“I had to stay focused and not let the situation get to my head” said Geaumont. “I was nervous. But I had confidence.”

Geaumont wanted a strikeout and got one for the second out. Then shortstop Lauren Titus handled a grounder and the inning was over.

But Thornton couldn’t do anything against Gilblair, who hadn’t allowed a hit since the second inning. Titus led off the ninth with a line single to center, then Geaumont — Thornton’s No. 3 hitter — bunted past Gilblair toward second.

The space had been vacated and Gilblair couldn’t get to the ball in time, so Geaumont was safe. Provost never hesitated to put the sacrifice on.

“Everything we do is for the team,” he said. “The idea was to get someone into scoring position.”

Provost then replaced Titus with a pinch-runner, speedy freshman Morgan Dube. On a 1-1 count, Duross grounded a ball up the middle which just eluded shortstop Katelyn LeBreux — bouncing over her glove at the last second — and Dube easily scored.

“They won it on a good clean hit,” said Paquin. “We didn’t field the one bunt they did and it cost us. And that one little mistake will cost you the game.”

Biddeford next faces Scarborough at home on Wednesday. The Trojans play Portland on Wednesday, then unbeaten South Portland on Thursday.

So this was a pivotal win for them.

“We knew we had to bounce back,” said Duross. “I think we have some momentum now and I think we’ll bring that to Wednesday and Thursday.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]