SACO – On a day when the hits flew around Thornton Academy’s baseball field, none flew farther or had more importance than two hit by Jeff Gelinas.
Gelinas powered a pair of two-run homers over the left-field fence as Thornton, using a 17-hit offense, won for the first time this season, beating South Portland, 13-8.
“Maybe back in Little League I’d hit two in a game but never on the big field,” said Gelinas, who committed to the University of Maine as a pitching prospect. “I’ll take it. It’s a good day.”
Gelinas’ homer in the first inning against Red Riots starter Robert Graff staked himself and his team to a lead.
His second was a muscled high fly pulled against reliever Jon Vickers. It came shortly after South Portland (2-1) used four timely hits and worked three walks against Gelinas to score six runs for a 6-4 lead.
The second Gelinas homer put Thornton (1-2) back in front to stay at 7-6.
“The first one really helped them relax. The second, we had just gained a lot of momentum and for him to do that allowed (Thornton) to take a breath,” South Portland Coach Mike Owens said. “He’s a tremendous hitter.”
Thornton’s key five-run rally started with leadoff hitter Dylan Morton (2 for 4) drawing a walk. Ryder Kenney (2 for 4) followed with an RBI double to bring Gelinas (3 for 5) to the plate.
After Gelinas put Thornton in front, Alex Fallon (3 for 5) kept the inning going with a deep double to left-center. Matt Rutherford and Brandon Briggs (2 for 3) followed with RBI singles for a 9-6 lead.
“What I saw was we answered back. After you go 0-2 to start the season, if you don’t answer there this game might have been different. We might have folded,” Trojans Coach Ray Petit said.
Drew Lavigne’s two-run triple in the fifth pushed the lead to 11-6.
South Portland rallied for two in the sixth, which included a scary moment for Gelinas. Facing his second batter, his left ankle buckled on a follow- through, sending him to the ground clutching the back of his leg.
“I’m sure it didn’t look good but I’ve done it enough in basketball to know it was OK,” Gelinas said. “I had never done it in baseball so I didn’t wear the brace. I’ll just wear the brace from now on. It will be fine.”
But Petit wasn’t taking any chances and replaced Gelinas.
Graff came out after a rough first inning. After the Gelinas homer he loaded the bases on a Fallon hit, a hit batter and his own throwing error on a bunt. To Graff’s credit he got the next two hitters.
“Robert was a little sore today. We knew that coming in. He wanted to grind it out but it’s not worth taking that sort of chance this early,” Owens said. “He’ll be fine but he didn’t have the life on his pitches he normally does.”
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or