OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Cheverus left-hander Joey Royer got his first start in over a month and pitched like he had never left as he shut down South Portland on three hits and 10 strikeouts to lead the Stags to an 8-2 win in the Western Class A baseball semifinals Monday at The Ballpark.

The Stags came alive in the fourth as they scored eight runs on eight hits. Royer started the explosion with a leadoff double.

The top-ranked Stags (16-2) will play No. 2 Westbrook (16-2) in the regional final on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College.

Other than pitching the first two innings against Westbrook in the Telegram League final here on June 4, Royer hadn’t pitched significant innings for a month and a day because of tendinitis in his biceps.

Royer underwent rehabilitation to strengthen his arm. Two weeks ago, he got the okay to pitch a few innings. The stint against Westbrook and a little more rest convinced Coach Mac McKew to give him the ball.

“My arm feels great, really strong,” said Royer, who will attend the University of New Haven in Connecticut on a baseball scholarship.

Freshman Mitchell Powers pitched the seventh for the Stags and struck out the side.

The fifth-seeded Riots (11-7) scored two unearned runs in the top of the third and led after three.

“We felt the pressure after South Portland took an early lead,” said McKew. “It was just a matter of patience. The eight runs sealed the deal.”

Royer said the early deficit got the Stags’ attention.

“South Portland is a good team. I was kind of surprised they beat Scarborough in the quarterfinals. We knew we had to play.”

Royer’s fastball overpowered the Riots at times.

“My curveball was also working very well,” he said.

Cheverus sent 13 men to the plate in the fourth.

Harry Ridge tied the game with a two-run single to right, scoring Royer and Jack Bushey, who had singled.

Nic Lops drilled a bases-loaded single to left to make it 4-2. After two walks, Royer came up for the second time and singled to right-center to drive home a run.

Two batters later, Bushey drove home two more runs with a base hit to center.

Royer said he feels very comfortable hitting at The Ballpark. He should. In a regular-season game against Portland, he had four doubles to various parts of the expansive field.

“I like hitting here because there’s so much room,” he said.

And now he likes pitching here.

“Royer really got ahead on the count,” said first-year South Portland coach Mike Owens.

“That made it hard for us to come back. We knew two runs wouldn’t be enough against Cheverus. That’s a very good team.

“We had a good season and are looking to build upon it for next year.”

The Riots took advantage of two Cheverus errors to take a 2-0 lead.

With a runner on first, Paul Reny drilled a single to left that the left fielder misplayed.

The ball rolled to the wall with Shawn Shannon coming all the way around from first to score. Reny ended up on third and scored on Will Bushey’s ground-ball out to make it 2-0.

One inning later, Cheverus was in control and on its way to a third meeting with Westbrook.

The Stags beat the Blue Blazes in the regular-season finale and in the league championship, both in eight innings.

“This is what you want,” said McKew. “The Nos. 1 and 2 teams playing.”


Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH