SOUTH PORTLAND — Ralph Aceto, the coach of South Portland High’s softball team, leaned over to Libby Grant, standing on third base, and whispered something into her ear.

Grant nodded and, about one minute later after the game’s decisive play, smiled at Aceto and said, “You were right.”

Grant scored the winning run on a close play at the plate in the fifth inning, knocking the ball away with a hard slide as top-ranked South Portland remained unbeaten with a 3-1 classic over previously unbeaten and No. 2 Scarborough at Wainwright Field.

“This definitely means a lot,” said Grant. “I mean, coming in we knew it would not be the end of the world if we lost. We’re going to make the playoffs and we’re probably going to see them again. But it definitely feels so good to beat them.”

It was South Portland’s second consecutive victory over Scarborough, long considered the best program in Western Class A. The other came in last year’s regional championship game, after the Riots had been shut out five consecutive times by the Red Storm.

The Riots are now 13-0. Scarborough dropped to 10-1.

“It was fun to be in this game,” said South Portland senior pitcher Alexis Bogdanovich, who allowed seven hits and no walks, striking out nine.

“We were a lot more relaxed against them than we ever have been. We just needed to think of it as just another game.”

Bogdanovich outdueled Mo Hannan, who allowed only five hits and struck out 13 for Scarborough. She also didn’t walk anyone, though she did hit two batters.

Hannan, in fact, struck out nine in the first three innings. But she was nicked for a run in the second when Katlin Norton slammed a triple to left, then scored on a hard liner to center by Bogdanovich.

“I just knew that I had to help myself out,” said Bogdanovich. “I tried not to think too much.”

Then came the decisive fifth. Grant, who struck out on four pitches her first at-bat, was again down 1-and-2 when she grounded a ball up the middle for a single.

Stephanie McDonough then bunted back to Hannan, whose throw to second was late.

Danielle DiBiase bunted for a hit, loading the bases, then Erin Bogdanovich grounded to shortstop Marisa O’Toole, who threw home.

Grant, sprinting home, slid in just as the ball arrived, knocking it from catcher Abby Rutt.

As the ball rolled away, McDonough came all the way around from second to make it 3-0.

“Right before Erin hit it, (Aceto) said, ‘If there’s going to be a play at home, you need to (make a hard slide),’ ” said Grant. “So I was fine with that. I went for it.”

Scarborough, which stranded two runners at third and another at second, got a run back on an RBI double by Rutt in the top of the sixth.

And then the Red Storm got the leadoff batter on in the seventh. But Alexis Bogdanovich bore down, getting the final two outs on strikeouts.

While disappointed, the Red Storm came away feeling good.

“One swing away and a couple of balls to catch and we’re right there where we want to be,” said Coach Tom Griffin. “It just didn’t go our way.”

Hannan, now 3-1 on the season, said, “I think we learned a lot. The little things cost us, really that one inning. Well, we might see them again.”

That’s a good bet.

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

Twitter: Twitter.com/MikeLowePPH