June 7, 2013

High school baseball playoffs: Westbrook slips past Cheverus

The Blue Blazes score the winner in the sixth and will be home for the semifinals.

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK - Kaleb Kent grounded a single past third base to score Derek Bouchard in the sixth inning Thursday, breaking a tie and giving fourth-seeded Westbrook a 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded Cheverus in a Western Class A baseball quarterfinal at Olmsted Field.

click image to enlarge

Westbrook shortstop Collin Joyce watches his throw to first, completing a double play Thursday after forcing Liam Fitzpatrick of Cheverus in the third inning. Westbrook rallied at home for a 3-2 win in a Western Class A quarterfinal.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Derek Bouchard is greeted by his Westbrook teammates Thursday after scoring the sixth-inning run that proved the winner in a 3-2 quarterfinal victory against Cheverus.

The Blue Blazes (14-4) will be home Saturday for a semifinal against eighth-seeded Portland (10-8) after the Bulldogs upset top-seeded Scarborough 5-4 in another quarterfinal.

Westbrook trailed 2-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, then scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

Kent scored the tying run in the fifth and followed with his game-winning single in the sixth.

Two errors by Cheverus (10-7) led to the Blazes' first two runs.

Westbrook took their regular-season meeting, winning 9-2 at Cheverus on May 7. After a midseason slump, the Stags closed the regular season by winning six of their last seven games.

"We fell down 2-0 but the kids stayed relaxed," said Westbrook Coach Greg Souza. "They kept battling and didn't give up."

Right-hander Keenan Lowe gave up four hits in the fourth when the Stags scored twice, but he didn't allow another hit.

"It took me a little bit to settle down," said Lowe. "I had to throw strikes and keep the ball down. I knew Cheverus was going to hit."

Westbrook wanted to use its momentum from winning last weekend's SMAA playoffs -- the school's first league championship since 1981.

"(The league title) gave us a lot of confidence," said Kyle Heath, who was the league's batting champion.

That confidence was tested early when Cheverus bunched four straight hits to go up 2-0 with one out in the top of the fourth.

Liam Fitzpatrick led off with a double down the right-field line. Jensen LaPoint followed with a line double over the center fielder's head to score Fitzpatrick. Felix del Vecchio singled home LaPoint for a 2-0 lead.

Ryan Gilligan led off the bottom of the fourth for Westbrook with a single to left. He ended up on third when Cheverus threw the ball into right field trying to force him at second on a grounder.

Gilligan then scored on Lowe's groundout.

Kent led off the fifth inning with a single. He ended up on third base on a throwing error and scored by beating the throw home after a forceout with the bases loaded.

The Blazes won it the next inning after Bouchard opened with a walk, was bunted to second by Zach Bean and went to third on a forceout. Kent hit pitcher Nate Smith's second delivery past third baseman LaPoint to score Bouchard.

"I knew (Kent) was going to get a hit," said Souza. "He's been playing his best baseball of the season in the last five games, both offensively and defensively.

"Cheverus knows how to win. Their kid pitched a strong game. We battled and we chipped away."

In the seventh, Lowe put a runner on when he hit a batter with one out, but he got the next two outs.

The Stags didn't start right-hander Mitchell Powers, who last pitched two weeks ago against Portland. Powers has had soreness in his arm after most of his outings this spring.

"We were just being cautious with Mitchell," said Cheverus Coach Mac McKew. "Nate Smith has been a strong pitcher for us all season. He walked three guys in 33 innings coming in.

"We knew that the winner of this game was going to be the team that took care of the baseball. Westbrook didn't make an error. We needed to take care of the ball and we didn't, and that's why we lost the game. Obviously we're disappointed.

"With our pitching limitations this season, I'm really proud of these guys to win 10 games. We lost by a run in a playoff game."

The Blazes came from the fourth seed to win the league title, and now they're in the semifinals at home.

"I like our team," said Souza. "We're playing really well and we're not hurting ourselves."

Added Heath: "We're playing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy."

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomChardPPH

 

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