STANDISH — South Portland first baseman Anthony Degifico said he had it the whole way. His pitcher wasn’t so sure.

Degifico caught Jake Knop’s line drive with runners on second and third for the final out, preserving the Red Riots’ 2-1 win over Portland for the Western Class A baseball title Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College.

“I just had to step a little to my right,” said Degifico, who also made the second out of the inning when he fielded a grounder and ran to the bag.

Left-hander Henry Curran pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts to give third-ranked South Portland (15-4) its first regional title since 1991.

The Riots will attempt to win their first state title since the state playoff system began in 1970 when they play Bangor (17-2) at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Morton Field in Augusta.

South Portland lost to Cony 7-1 in 1991 in the school’s only previous appearance in the state final.

“(Curran) pitched a great game,” said Degifico. “I was nervous when Portland rallied, but we were confident because we have Henry and a great defense. We knew the game would be tight.”

Curran, a senior headed to the University of Southern Maine, was sailing with a two-hitter through six innings.

“I love pressure,” he said.

He got plenty in the seventh. Asked about the final out, Curran said: “I thought it was going through. Anthony’s short arms caught it.”

Curran got the first out in the seventh on a grounder to shortstop Drew Abramson. The next batter, George Chaison-Lapine, walked, and Jack Nichols singled through the middle.

Zach Fortin then hit a fly ball down the line. Left fielder Silas Zechman dove after a long run but the ball dropped in with Chaison-Lapine scoring. Joe Fusco then grounded out to Degifico with the runners advancing to second and third.

Portland Coach Mike Rutherford thought his team had won when the ball came off Knop’s bat.

“I thought it was over,” said Rutherford. “Our runner on third was halfway home.”

It was over but with the Riots on top and moving on.

Rutherford said he was proud of his team’s effort.

“We faced the best pitcher in the state who had all his stuff working and it came down to the final out,” he said. “We battled the entire way. You can’t ask more of a team.

“The back-to-back doubles for a run in the top of the seventh was huge for South Portland with Curran pitching.”

South Portland scored in the first inning when an infield throwing error allowed Matt Beecher, who had walked, to come around from first.

The Riots had runners on second and third with one out when Portland starter Dan Marzilli got the last two outs, the final one on a strikeout.

Marzilli allowed four hits in five innings before being relieved by Ryan Ruhlin in the sixth.

In the seventh, Curran, the No. 9 hitter who had struck out in his previous two plate appearances, sliced a liner inside the third-base bag that rolled down the line for a double.

Sam Troiano then hit the ball to nearly the same spot for a double, scoring Curran to make it 2-0.

Curran tossed a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a 4-0 win over top-ranked Portland (14-5) during the regular season.

“Henry looked strong in practices leading up to the game,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens.

“I had a good feeling.”

Owens also was pleased that South Portland had, he said, “gotten over the hump,” referring to the school’s 24-year wait between regional titles.

Curran struck out five of the first eight batters he faced. He retired the Bulldogs in order in the second, fifth and sixth innings.

“I had to get used to the mound,” said Curran.

Every time Curran pitches, he writes the initials of his late grandmother, Adeline Curran, and his late uncle, Steve Onos, on the mound.

“I talk to them when I pitch. They really supported me in my baseball career,” he said.

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at

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Twitter: TomChardPPH