The motto of the Portland High baseball team is to play “loosey-goosey.” It came in handy Thursday night in the first inning of the Class A South quarterfinal against South Portland.

After allowing two runs and several hard-hit balls in the top of the inning, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs answered with five runs in the bottom en route to a 14-4 victory against the fifth-seeded Red Riots at Hadlock Field.

The game was called after six innings due to the 10-run rule.

Portland will play at top-ranked Falmouth in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday – their third consecutive year meeting in the playoffs.

Falmouth (16-1) won 5-0 last year and Portland recorded a 4-0 victory in the 2015 playoffs.

“(Coach Mike) Rutherford preaches it, we are loosey-goosey throughout the game and throughout the whole year,” said Dom Tocci, who finished 2 for 4 with four RBI for the Bulldogs (13-4). “Nothing ever gets us down. If we make an error we have kids picking us up. We seem to find it whenever we need to.”

Portland’s Will Snyder, left, celebrates with and Dom Tocci after Tocci scored during the fifth inning Thursday’s quarterfinal against South Portland. The Bulldogs advanced with a 14-4 win. ;Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

South Portland (13-5) came out swinging against Gio Ruotolo. Sam Troiano hit the first pitch of the game for a triple to center. Two pitches later, Riley Hasson knocked him in with a sharp single to left. Gordon Whittemore made it 2-0 with a double.

The Red Riots had runners on second and third with no outs, but Ruotolo got two strikeouts and a fly out to get out of the inning.

“Fortunately we got out of that inning giving up only two runs, and then we picked it up from there,” Tocci said. “(Ruotolo) did a perfect job after giving up those two runs.”

Portland’s Giovanni Ruotolo delivers a pitch. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

In the bottom of the first, Zach Johnson walked the first three batters and was replaced by Connor Buckley, who struck out the next two. But Don Tocci worked a walk for a run before a two-run single by Will Snyder and a two-run double by Cam King (3 for 3) made it 5-2.

“The key to the game was the first innings,” Rutherford said. “They had three laser beams off (Ruotolo), scoring two runs. All year we want to minimize the damage, staying away from the real bad inning. If we get down four or five (runs), it’s a totally different game.

“But we bounced back and scored five in the bottom half. We took advantage of a little wildness and key two-out hits.”

The Red Riots had a chance to cut into the deficit in the third when Johnson hit a one-out double and moved to third on a grounder. But Ruotolo got a foul out to end the inning.

Portland third baseman Will Snyder can’t handle the throw as South Portland’s Riley Hasson slides into third, advancing from second on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

South Portland scored on sacrifice flies by Johnson and Whittemore in the fifth to make it 5-4, but again stranded a runner on third.

The Bulldogs again answered in the bottom of the inning. Another five runs padded the lead to 10-4. Dom Tocci sparked the rally with a bases-clearing triple over Troiano’s head in center field. Tom Joyce added an RBI single in the inning.

“They limited (both innings we scored) to two runs, and when we had a chance to limit their innings they put up five both times,” South Portland Coach Mike Owens said.

“Both times we had chances to break it open, we left it at two.”

Four consecutive RBI in the bottom of the sixth by Ben Stasium (bases-loaded walk), Dom Tocci (groundout), Jake Knop (single) and Nick Archambault (single) pushed the lead to 10 runs and ended the game.