The Bulldogs wipe out a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 quarterfinal victory.Portland shortstop Jake Knop throws to first after tagging out Dom Bernard of Deering at second base during the fifth inning of Portland’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory in a Western Class A quarterfinal at Hadlock Field. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer
The defining moment in Portland’s baseball season came May 26 with a come-from-behind victory against Cheverus that built a foundation for what’s happened since.
Four straight wins to close the regular season, a victory in the SMAA playoffs and now this – another come-from-behind win Thursday night against Deering in the Western Class A quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs (13-4) used a big fifth inning to beat Cheverus, and it was the fifth inning again that beat the upset-minded Rams.
Top-ranked Portland scored four runs in the fifth to overcome a 3-0 deficit and beat ninth-seeded Deering 4-3 before a large crowd at Hadlock Field.
Portland will play fourth-seeded Falmouth (11-6) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hadlock Field in the semifinals.
Deering (11-7) had the Bulldogs on the ropes until the bottom of the fifth. The bottom of Portland’s order got things started and then the Rams’ defense fell apart, making four errors. What was a 3-0 lead soon became a 4-3 deficit.
“We’ve had several come-from-behind wins this season. Maybe 50 percent of our wins have been that way,” said winning pitcher Ryan Ruhlin, who relieved in the fifth. “We feel out the pitcher for the first couple of innings and then we start to hit.
“We have a great batting order. In the back of our minds we knew we were capable of winning the game. We weren’t down mentally at all when we fell behind early.”
Deering left-hander Colby Dame pitched well enough to win.
“We had some mental lapses and we got a little tight at the plate after we lost the lead,” said Deering Coach Josh Stowell.
After Dame struck out the first batter in the fifth, Zach Fortin, the No. 8 batter who had two hits, singled to right-center. Dom DiMillo, who had only four plate appearances coming into the game, singled to right. Jake Knop drove home Fortin with a single to left.
Pinch-runner Marcus Cross Robertson scored on a passed ball, and a squeeze bunt scored Knop from third to tie it. John Williams reached on an error, and when Ruhlin’s single to center was mishandled, Williams went to third, then continued home when the throw from the outfield got past third base.
Ruhlin relieved Charles Barnard with two outs in the fifth and retired seven straight to close it out.
“Ryan has been our team MVP,” said Portland Coach Mike Rutherford. “Counting the league playoffs we are 14-5. Ryan has six pitching wins and four saves, so he’s contributed to 10 of our 14 wins. And he leads our team in RBI.”
Deering scored a run in the second and two in the third. James Sinclair singled sharply up the middle with two outs in the second and scored from first on an outfield error.
In the third, Ian Westphal led off with a single. Kevin Goldberg was hit by a pitch and Nick Bevilacqua bunted the runners along. Dom Bernard was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pat Viola was hit by a pitch to bring in a run and the Rams made it 3-0 on a fielder’s choice.
“I’m proud of the guys. Our goal at the start was to go .500 and make the playoffs. We did a lot more. The players stayed tough throughout the season,” said Stowell.
The Rangers score in the ninth inning for a 4-3 quarterfinal victory.
CUMBERLAND — Caleb Normandeau blooped an opposite-field single into left field in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift third-seeded Greely to a 4-3 victory against sixth-ranked Yarmouth in a Western Class B baseball quarterfinal Thursday.
Greely, the defending state champ who didn’t allow a run in playoff competition last spring, advanced to play at second-seeded York in a semifinal Saturday.
Normandeau’s winning hit capped a game that took nearly three hours to complete and included a late rally by the Clippers that forced extra innings.
“As a head coach, that was my 42nd career playoff game, and that was about as emotional a roller coaster as I’ve ever experienced,” Greely Coach Derek Soule said.
The Rangers (12-5) left 12 men on base in the first seven innings as Yarmouth pitchers Luke Klenda, who went the first 52/3 innings, and Andrew Kinsman pitched their way out of jam after jam.
“We had so many opportunities where it seemed like one hit was going to win it and we just couldn’t deliver,” Soule said. “Yarmouth made some great plays. It was a great high school sporting event to be a part of.”
Dylan Fried set up the walk-off win when he slammed a two-out double into the left-field corner. Austin Nowinski and Justin Leeman walked to load the bases before Normandeau, who bats second in the lineup, stepped to the plate.
“I was 0 for 4 coming into that last at-bat, and I just tried to keep my hands inside the ball and drive it the opposite way,” he said. “I just tried to put the ball in play and it ended up working out.”
The Rangers, who cruised to an 11-2 victory against the Clippers on May 6, built an early 3-0 lead.
Greely took the lead in the first when Leeman led off with a single, moved to second on a walk to Normandeau and scored on the first of three singles by Miles Shields.
The Rangers scored twice more in the third. Shields led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a grounder. After Cal Soule walked and stole second, Chaz Reade drove in a run with a single and Matt Pisini doubled in another run.
Will Bryant, who scattered seven hits and struck out 12 in his eight innings for Greely, held the Clippers in check until the fifth.
Yarmouth loaded the bases when Jack Snyder reached after striking out on a wild pitch, and Conor Lainey and Gibby Harnett followed with back-to-back singles. Cody Cook drove in two runs with a two-out single.
The Clippers (8-9) made it 3-3 in the sixth. Jordan Brown led off with a single and moved to third on a throwing error following C.J. Cawley’s bunt. Lainey doubled with one out to bring in the run, but Bryant struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
“The most important thing you get out of high school sports is you learn mental and physical toughness,” Yarmouth Coach Marc Halsted said. “We fought for those two runs in the fifth and we fought for that run in the sixth.
“It stinks to lose, but this is what high school sports should be all about.”
Ryan Twitchell pitched one inning of hitless relief to earn the win.
The Eagles score eight runs in the final three innings to earn a 9-2 quarterfinal win.
WELLS — Sawyer Pinkham led fifth-seeded Lincoln Academy on the mound and at the plate as the Eagles upset third-seeded Wells 9-2 in a Western Class B baseball quarterfinal Thursday.
Pinkham tossed a complete game for Lincoln Academy (8-9), allowing just four hits and two runs. The right-hander walked four and struck out two.
“(Pinkham) is great. … I think (the comeback) all (started) with him,” said Lincoln Academy Coach Ryan Ball.
“He got stronger as the game went on,” said Wells Coach Todd Day. “His fastball got a little better and he had more command later in the game.”
Pinkham overcame early control problems after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning.
“I just tried to get ahead of them. I struggled in the first inning but settled in after that,” said Pinkham.
“He was throwing high early, but he finally got down in the strike zone and started getting ahead of batters as opposed to pitching from behind as he did early,” said Ball.
Pinkham also collected three hits and knocked in a run. John Henry contributed two doubles, a single and three RBI.
The Eagles trailed 2-1 after four innings but scored three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
“They just saw (Wells starter Charlie Bell) that third time around and just connected and put some things together,” said Day.
Pinkham doubled to right in the fifth and scored the tying run on Henry’s double to deep left. Henry raced home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch two batters later.
Bell took the loss for Wells (10-7). The lefty lasted five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits. He walked four and struck out three.
“(Bell was) only the third or fourth lefty we’ve seen all year,” said Pinkham. “We figured ‘why wait?’ So we picked the flat stuff rather than mess around with the curveball and change-ups.”
Day thought his team wasted some chances to build a bigger lead in the early innings.
“I think the momentum changed earlier in the game when we made some base-running mistakes that cost us some bigger innings,” said Day. “We got on our heels a little bit defensively and we saw them capitalize. Give them credit for hitting the ball.”
“I think we just settled down,” said Ball. “We were nervous coming in. We had a rough last two or three games and it was kind of carrying over. Our confidence was shaky at best.
“(Bell) just started putting it in the zone we wanted. We got a couple of hits and just caught fire.”
Andy Hutchins, No. 9 hitter in Lincoln’s lineup, had three hits, scored twice and knocked in one.
“We have a lot of experience,” said Ball. “We lost to some teams we shouldn’t have and we had some huge wins. Our record is a little deceiving.”
Cape Elizabth downs Lake Region and South Portland tops Biddeford.
CAPE ELIZABETH — Matthew Denison singled home Brendan Tinsman in the first and third innings Thursday, and top-ranked Cape Elizabeth survived an upset attempt from ninth-seeded Lake Region for a 2-1 victory in a Western Class B baseball quarterfinal.
Damon Knight’s two-out double in the seventh inning scored Gunnar Harriman with the only run for the Lakers (6-12).
Tinsman and Denison each had two of the five hits for the Capers (12-5) against Lake Region pitcher Jordan Williams.
Nate Smith and Nick Wandishin rapped two hits each for the Lakers.
SOUTH PORTLAND 4, BIDDEFORD 3: Sam Troiano was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, forcing home Drew Abramson with the winning run as the third-ranked Red Riots (13-4) defeated 11th-seeded Biddeford (7-11) in a Western Class A quarterfinal at South Portland.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Nick Conley tripled home Joey Curit and scored on a wild pitch before Casey Twomey scored the go-ahead run on an error.
South Portland tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Sam Solomon singled up the middle to drive in Ben Conti.
YORK 13, GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER 4: Derek Neal’s second homer of the game was a grand slam as the second-seeded Wildcats (13-4) scored seven runs in the fifth inning to end the game against 10th-ranked Gray-New Gloucester (8-10) in a Western Class B quarterfinal at York.
Sam Johnson opened the fifth with a home run, and Trevor LaBonte’s third hit of the game drove in Cole Merritt with the game-ending run.
York widened a 3-2 lead to 6-2 with a three-run third. Neal and Merritt led off the inning with home runs.
Thomas Wood and James Magno each had a pair of hits for the Patriots. LaBonte and Neal had three hits, and Matthew Pratt, Merritt, Johnson and Forrest Kelley added two each for York.
MONMOUTH ACADEMY 6, SACOPEE VALLEY 1: Nick Sanborn pitched a three-hitter, striking out four and walking three as the sixth-seeded Mustangs (11-7) knocked off the third-ranked Hawks (15-2) in a Western Class C quarterfinal at South Hiram.
Chandler Harris had a triple, a single and a pair of RBI for Monmouth, Travis Hartford added a double and single, and Jariah Caissie hit a pair of singles.
OCEANSIDE 5, WATERVILLE 0: Nick Mazurek struck out 11 while giving up one walk and four hits as the second-ranked Mariners (15-2) shut out seventh-seeded Waterville (13-4) in an Eastern Class B quarterfinal at Thomaston.
Mazurek added a solo home run that just cleared the fence in left-center.
Zac Roman had an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, and Zach Peaco scored twice. Mazurek, Roman, Peaco and Jimmy Strong each had two of the Mariners’ nine hits.
MARSHWOOD 13, WINDHAM 1: Zach Quintal went 3 for 3 with a triple and double and drove in five runs as the second-seeded Hawks (14-3) handled the 10th-ranked Eagles (9-9) in a five-inning Western Class A quarterfinal at South Berwick.
Quintal also was the starting pitcher and allowed one run on two hits in three innings.
Zach Doyon blasted a two-run homer to spark a seven-run fourth as Marshwood broke the game open.
Tim Greenlaw had a pair of singles for Windham.
BANGOR 6, BRUNSWICK 0: Ben Crichton singled home Sam Huston to ignite a five-run second inning as the top-ranked Rams (15-2) bunched six of their nine hits in the inning to quickly take control of their Eastern Class A quarterfinal against eighth-seeded Brunswick (9-9) at Bangor.
Kyle Stevenson singled home Crichton and scored the third run on a wild pitch. Trevor DeLaite added an RBI single and Jordan Derrah hit a sacrifice fly.
FALMOUTH 5, GORHAM 3: Connor McDowell went 2 for 3, including an RBI single in a three-run third inning as the fourth-seeded Yachtsmen (11-6) edged the 12th-ranked Rams (9-9) in a Western Class A quarterfinal at Falmouth.
Colin Coyle had a pair of singles and Connor Aube added a double for Falmouth.
Jordan Ward had a double and single for Gorham, which scored three runs in the fifth.
Cam Guarino picked up the win, allowing eight hits, walking two and striking out three.
MARANACOOK 7, LISBON 3: Fifth-seeded Maranacook (11-7) scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning and downed fourth-ranked Lisbon (13-4) in a Western Class C quarterfinal at Lisbon Falls.