After losing its first four games by a total of six runs, the Scarborough baseball team found the winning formula Tuesday.
The ingredients weren’t surprising. A lot of Ben Greenberg and some great defense in the late innings led to a 2-0 win over Cheverus in an SMAA game at Kevin MacDonald Memorial Field.
Greenberg, the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year last season, pitched a three-hitter, struck out nine and walked three, and the Red Storm (1-4) made one outstanding play in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth.
Greenberg retired the Stags (3-2) in order in the second, third and seventh innings.
“We needed to get a win and it was good to get it against a good team like Cheverus,” said Greenberg, who is headed to Fordham in the fall. “We’ve been there in every game, just a few timely hits away from winning. Coach talked about playing with intensity and competing a little harder, and I think it worked.”
The Red Storm’s intensity showed in late-game defense.
In the fifth, third baseman Nick Suchecki made a diving stab behind the bag on a ball hit by Mitchell Powers and threw out the fleet runner in a close play. The Stags thought he was safe.
In the sixth, after Chris Tinsman of Cheverus lined a Greenberg fastball between third and short for a base hit, Felix del Vecchio hit a grounder to Cam Brochu at second. Brochu tossed to shortstop Nick Lorello for the force at second, and Lorello’s throw to first completed the double play, and brought a fist pump from Greenberg.
It was huge because the next two batters reached on a walk and an infield single. Freshman Logan McCarthy then hit a drive that looked headed for extra bases, but center fielder Matt Hartl, positioned in right- center, got a good jump and made a diving catch to end the inning.
“The catch saved the game for them,” said Cheverus Coach Mac McKew. “I think the wind helped to hold up the ball but he still made a great catch. Scarborough is a much better team with Greenberg pitching. He’s the great equalizer. I’m thrilled with our pitchers, Alex Jacobs and Derek Hammond. They held Scarborough to two runs.”
Hartl, a basketball standout, knows a ball can travel a distance if a batter gets hold of Greenberg’s fastball, which is in the mid to high 80s.
“Once I knew I had to dive, I really sprawled out,” he said.
Said Greenberg: “I put my head down when it was hit. I didn’t think Matt would catch it but when you have kids willing to lay out, it’s tough to lose.”
Scarborough scored its two runs with one out in the top of the third.
Lorello walked and stole second, and designated hitter Zach Carriero singled him in with a line single to right.
Carriero then stole second and scored on Greenberg’s single to center.
The Red Storm had a runner on third base with two outs in the sixth, but Jacobs got the third out on a called strike.
The Stags got a runner to third in the first, the fourth and the sixth. Greenberg got two straight groundouts to end the first, struck out two straight and got a forceout in the fourth, and his team’s defense took over in the sixth.
Greenberg’s fastball was overpowering at times and he used a good curveball to keep Cheverus off balance.
“Powers and Tinsman are good hitters so you have to come into the game expecting to mix it up,” said Greenberg. “I tried my best to keep them off-balance because they can rip it.
“Tinsman ripped the fastball I threw him leading off the sixth. I faced the tough part of their order in the sixth. I knew if I pounded the strike zone in the seventh, I would have a good chance of getting them out.”
“The guys really wanted it against Cheverus,” said Scarborough Coach Ryan Jones. “Obviously we wanted to win the previous games, but today we had a little bit extra. I don’t think we really changed much going into the game. We knew what we were doing would work. We just had to be patient and a little more focused.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:[email protected]