Luke Chessie retired the last four batters Friday to wrap up a neat three-hitter as Thornton Academy beat Deering 5-2 in an SMAA baseball game at Hadlock Field.

Within a few minutes of the final out, Chessie had an ice pack strapped to his right arm and was headed for the bus back to Saco, the Golden Trojans having secured the sixth seed in the Class A South tournament.

Inside the home dugout, the Rams lingered. They made sandwiches of turkey and cheese, or peanut butter and jelly. In another two hours they had a second game to play, against Portland.

Friday marked the final countable day of the spring sports season for not just baseball but softball. In light of a particularly rainy spring, the Maine Principals’ Association extended the season for two days beyond the original Wednesday deadline.

“I don’t remember a spring quite like this,” said Deering Coach Josh Stowell, whose team has played four games in four days and earlier this season had a stretch of five games in seven days. “Talking to a lot of umpires who have done it for 20-plus years, they said they haven’t seen anything like it. It’s been real difficult, real taxing, but it’s just one of the things we have to deal with living up here in the Northeast.”

Portland starting pitcher Giovani Ruotolo delivers a pitch in Friday’s game against Deering at Hadlock Field. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

The Rams wound up also dropping the second game, 5-3 to Portland, but managed to bring the tying run to the plate after trailing 5-0 in their final at-bat.

“We fought to the end,” Stowell said. “We gave ourselves a chance. I’m happy we showed some life at the end, especially going into the playoffs. We can use this little bit of momentum to go forward into next week.”

All three teams involved in Friday’s beat-the-deadline doubleheader had secured a playoff berth. No. 4 Portland finished 12-4 to earn a first-round bye. No. 6 Thornton Academy (11-5) will host No. 11 Sanford (5-11) and No. 10 Deering (7-9) will travel to No. 7 Biddeford (7-9).

As seemed only fitting, the regular- season finale included foreboding clouds, showers in the fourth and fifth innings, and a double rainbow that stretched above the adjacent Portland Expo.

Gio Ruotolo of Portland carried a two-hitter into the seventh but a one-out error and Jack Lynch’s double put Deering on the board.

Tommy Joyce relieved Ruotolo and got the final two outs, but not before Riley Bartell greeted him with a two-run single.

“I transfered from Deering my freshman year so I grew up with all these guys,” Joyce said. “I’m still really good friends with a bunch of them so it feels great.”

Joyce gave Portland a 1-0 lead with a two-out single in the third to bring home Ben Stasium (two hits, two stolen bases). The Bulldogs added two in the fifth.

Deering pitcher James Sinclair watches Portland’s Ben Stasium connect for a first-inning hit. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Nick Archambault led off with a double and dashed home, barely eluding a tag from Lynch, the Deering catcher, on Donnie Tocci’s single to center. Tocci wound up scoring after an errant pickoff attempt. Portland added two in the top of the seventh to go ahead 5-0.

“We didn’t really think about the fact that they had already played once (Friday),” Archambault said. “We knew we had to take them seriously and play our tails off.”

Friday afternoon marked Thornton’s third Hadlock visit in three days. The Trojans beat Portland 16-6 on Wednesday and spent nearly an hour in a weather delay Thursday before their game against Deering was postponed.

“Having all this time in the rain, sitting on the bus, sitting in the dugout, sitting in the (Expo) clubhouse (Thursday) just bonding, that helps us out in the field to be loose and play as a team,” said Chessie, who walked five and didn’t strike out a batter but was helped by two double plays.

“I always have to rely on my defense,” he said. “I’m not a pitcher that’s going to go and overpower the opposition. I’ve just got to throw strikes and let my defense do the work, and they did great.”

Chessie tripled and scored for Thornton.

Second baseman Chase Wescott singled twice and drove in three runs, and first baseman Evan Balzano doubled twice and drove in a run.

Thornton Coach Greg Paradis said he feels his team is finally finding a rhythm after such a choppy early spring.

“It’s been so cold and dreary, the end of the year has kind of snuck up on us a little bit,” Paradis said. “You feel like you’ve been playing in April the whole season. But I think our kids have been real resilient. It’s been a really crazy spring.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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