Over the past two games, the Westbrook baseball team proved it could play with the top teams in the SMAA. Unfortunately for the Blue Blazes, the proof – two one-run losses – isn’t worth any Heal Points.

On Saturday, the Blue Blazes fell at home 3-2 to undefeated Deering, the reigning state champs. The Rams are ranked No. 2 in the Western Maine Class A Heal Point standings released Tuesday.

Last Thursday, Thornton Academy topped Westbrook 6-5 in Saco with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh to break a 5-5 tie. The point-worthy Golden Trojans are No. 3, their only loss coming to No. 1 Biddeford.

Westbrook (5-3) sits at No. 6, with all three of its losses coming to top-four teams by a total of four runs. If the Blue Blazes can find that clutch hit a bit more frequently over the second half of the season, they will be trouble for their playoff opponents.

After the game at Thornton, Golden Trojans coach Greg Paradis said he expects Westbrook to win 10 games and be a threat come playoff time.

“They’re a very good club,” Paradis said. “They’re young. They’re well coached obviously, that’s been said.”

Westbrook came back from a 5-1 deficit with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to tie Thornton. Blue Blazes coach Mike Rutherford was disappointed in the loss, but pleased with the way his team competed against a veteran Thornton team.

“They’re supposed to be one of the top two teams in the state – Thornton and Deering – and we’re playing on their field against their best pitcher,” Rutherford said. “And we’ve got three 15 year-olds out there playing. We could have easily died 5-1.”

Westbrook scored an unearned run in the first inning, but Thornton responded with five in the third, three of them unearned. Westbrook starter Shawn McAlpine didn’t let the big inning get to him, as he rebounded to hold Thornton scoreless for the next three innings.

“McAlpine battled and kept us in the game and gave us a chance to get back in the game,” Rutherford said. “We were one hit away from having a huge inning in that sixth inning. We had the right guys with Scott Heath and Matt Foye up. We got one run, but with a big hit, we’re talking about a five or six run inning. I’m very happy with the way we battled back.”

Heath singled in the fifth to drive in Zach Gardiner, who reached on a walk and advanced on a bunt and balk. Heath advanced to third on an error and scored on Christian Hamilton’s single, which chased Thornton starter Matt Leach from the game.

“Their whole lineup has a lot of great hitters in it,” Leach said. “My stuff was not working today at all. I couldn’t get in any groove the whole game, couldn’t get in any rhythm.”

McAlpine and Tyler Kelly each singled to start the sixth. Tayler Clouatre advanced the runners with a bunt and Gardiner walked to load the bases. A walk to Lance Ludka forced home McAlpine, and Heath’s sacrifice fly scored Kelly to tie the game at 5-5. Foye grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

Leach led off the bottom of the seventh with a standup double to right field. After an intentional walk to Robbie Trask, McAlpine handed the ball over to Heath. A wild pitch advanced both runners. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Steve Trask’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Leach for the winning run.

Westbrook had an unlucky break early in the game. In the second inning, Clouatre ripped a two-out pitch to right field with Zach Collett on first. Steve Trask went to field the ball but threw his arms in the air when the ball reached the fence. The umpires ruled the ball was stuck under the fence and awarded Clouatre a ground-rule double, which meant Collett had to stop at third. Had the ball been retrievable, Collett likely would have scored easily to give the Blue Blazes a 2-0 lead. Instead, Leach struck out the next batter to escape the jam.

“It was an unlucky break,” Rutherford said. “It ended up in a hole and we got unlucky.”

Against Deering, Westbrook caught a break in the fourth inning but was unable to capitalize. Trailing 3-2, McAlpine singled to lead off the bottom of the inning. Kelly laid down a bunt that Deering ace Taylor Candage fielded, but threw well over his first baseman. McAlpine advanced to third and Kelly pulled in to second. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Westbrook was unable to score. Candage struck out Clouatre and Gardiner and got Ludka to ground out to end the threat.

Over the final three innings, Westbrook had only two baserunners. Heath led off the fifth with a single but was caught stealing second. Clouatre walked to start the seventh but was doubled off after Gardiner popped out on a bunt attempt.

Hamilton started and went 6.2 innings for Westbrook, striking out eight and allowing three runs on nine Deering hits. He took his first loss and is 3-1.

Deering scored once in the second when Brad Shafran’s single scored Cameron Sprague. The Rams struck twice more in the third when Nick Bartlett doubled to knock in Marc Ouimet and Jack Heary.

Clouatre walked to start the third for the Blue Blazes and scored on Gardiner’s double. Heath knocked Gardiner in with a single to make it 3-2.


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