Westbrook enters the Western Class A baseball quarterfinals in a good frame of mind after winning the SMAA playoffs last weekend at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

The Blue Blazes beat Scarborough in the semifinals and Marshwood in the finals. It was the Blazes’ first league title since 1981. Westbrook was the No. 4 seed, based on the final Heal point standings.

Westbrook meets No. 5 Cheverus at 4 p.m. Thursday at Olmsted Field.

Just as Westbrook came from the fourth slot to win the league title, so too could another team come from one of the lower seeds to win the regional title. It’s that wide open.

“The top four teams could all still be playing after the quarterfinals or not playing,” said Westbrook Coach Greg Souza. “I think it’s a toss-up.”

The SMAA tournament gave the top four teams game action while awaiting the quarterfinals.

“It was great for us because we won two games. It gives us more confidence. We’re playing well on both offense and defense,” said Souza.

Souza said Keenan Lowe will start for the Blazes, while Cheverus will likely counter with Mitchell Powers. The Blazes have the SMAA batting champion in junior catcher Kyle Heath, who finished the regular season with a .444 average.

Cheverus came on strong at the end of the season and still has players who competed in last summer’s American Legion Northeast Regional at The Ballpark, where they finished as runner-up.

No. 8 Portland faces No. 1 Scarborough at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Bulldogs made good on the program’s first playoff game in four years with an 8-0 win over South Portland in the preliminary round Tuesday.

“Portland has two top pitchers in Nate Smart and Caleb Fraser who can beat anyone,” said Souza.

Smart, a senior, pitched a three-hitter in giving his classmates their first playoff win. The Bulldogs face a stiff assignment against right-hander Ben Greenberg.

The prelim victory injected Portland with confidence.

“We’re finally learning how to win,” Smart said. “The last couple of years we got used to losing a little too much.”

Portland will pitch Fraser, who has a 4-1 record.

“I know we’ll compete,” said Portland Coach Tony DiBiase.

In other Western A quarterfinals, No. 3 Windham hosts No. 11 Biddeford at 3:30 p.m., and No. 2 Marshwood is at home against No. 7 Thornton Academy at 4:30 p.m.

The Golden Trojans downed No. 10 Noble 8-6 in one prelim, while Biddeford upset No. 6 Gorham 4-0. Thornton Coach Ray Petit has No. 1 pitcher Jeff Gelinas available, as Gelinas threw only six pitches in relief against the Knights.

“I think the top four teams are pretty equal, and the rest are pretty close, too,” said Petit. “We’ll have our hands full because Marshwood can hit and pitch.”

 

THE WESTERN CLASS B quarterfinals have No. 8 Fryeburg Academy at No. 1 Greely, 4 p.m.; No. 5 York at No. 4 Yarmouth, 3 p.m.; No. 11 Oak Hill at No. 3 Morse, 3:30 p.m.; and No. 10 Poland at No. 2 Falmouth, 4 p.m.

In Western Class C, No. 8 Old Orchard Beach plays at No. 1 Dirigo at 4:30 p.m., and No. 6 Sacopee Valley plays at No. 3 Winthrop at 4 p.m.

Greely Coach Derek Soule said teams in the quarterfinals are all capable.

“Fryeburg has good pitching depth and a very good catcher who manages their pitching staff. They have some good hitting at the top of the lineup,” he said.

The Rangers will start righty Bailey Train. Greely, with the same record and ranking as last season, are hoping for a better ending than in 2012 when it was upset by Cape Elizabeth in the quarters.

Soule said his team’s preparation has been better this time.

“We played our last regular-season game on Friday. Because of the good weather, we’ve been able to practice. We played Cheverus in a scrimmage on Monday,” he said.

Oak Hill gained its sixth shutout of the season when it beat Cape Elizabeth 16-0 in a prelim. Soule calls No. 10 Poland a dangerous team because of its pitching depth and the fact its bats have been hot.

 

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

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