Riley Hasson and Sam Troiano scored – and secured South Portland’s first lead – in the third inning of the Riots’ A South Championship bout with Falmouth on Tuesday, June 14. But that stretch would provide the sum total of SoPo’s offensive output against Yachtsmen, who soon put up three more of their own for a 4-2 final.

“I thought we had a good approach at the plate,” said South Portland head coach Mike Owens. “We hit some balls hard. That’s a really good pitcher that doesn’t give many guys good pitches to hit, and I thought the ones he did, we hit hard. Just, we hit balls right at guys, and their centerfielder can just go get it – he made some outstanding plays.” 

Cam Guarino, on the mound for Falmouth that day, is one of the top throwers in Maine, and Connor Aube, the Yachtsmen’s centerfielder, is among the best all-around players.

Aube, in fact, gave Falmouth a quick lead in the contest, doubling to center in the Yachtsmen’s first at-bat. Aube reached third on a Charlie Emple grounder single up the middle and home on a Riots’ fielding error.

The second inning passed scorelessly, but after striking out Alex Livingston in the top of the third, Guarino beaned Hasson, handing SoPo something to work with. Hasson advanced, and Troiano reached first, when Troiano knocked a grounder the Falmouth shortstop bobbled. Ben Conti then grounded into center to load the bases.

Next, Drew Abramson grounded; the first half of a would-be double-play caught Conti at second, but the throw to first – which would’ve ended the inning – drifted low. Yachtsman Jesse Melchiskey couldn’t get a glove on the ball, and it hit a diving Abramson in the torso. It bounced out from beneath him, though, and landed confusingly in the dirt under Melchiskey, who couldn’t get off a hurl home in time to prevent either Hasson or Troiano from scoring. 2-1, SoPo.

In the bottom of the third, however, Aube, Tyler Gee and Colin Coyne all scored for Falmouth, Aube on an Abramson error, Gee on a Chris Camelio hit into left-center and Coyne on a Melchiskey blast over Conti and into right. 

“I thought we took advantage of some of their mistakes early,” Owens said. “Maybe it was a little jitters or whatever, but we just couldn’t do enough at the end of the day.”

South Portland starter on the mound Griffin Kelley looked sharp, even after giving up those two critical hits. Owens acknowledged as much: “I thought Griffin did very well. He kept them off-balance enough, and I really thought we just didn’t make the plays behind him today. We kind of let him down … I think we should’ve been out of that inning at 2-1.”

From there, the game grinded into a defensive back-and-forth: Neither team could post another run, and since the Yachtsmen had the advantage when the bats dried up, they took the W in the end.

“We knew we were going to have to play a perfect game,” said Owens. “We just didn’t quite put it all together today. It’s tough to win a game when you only get one hit.”

South Portland, who entered the tournament ranked second, retired for the year at 16-3. The No. 1 Yachtsmen went to 20-0 on the win, but couldn’t cap a perfect season in the state final, and fell to mighty Bangor, who took its third consecutive title 5-0.

 

South Portland first baseman Matt Crockett gets beneath an infield fly; teammate Ben Conti backs him up.

Riot Riley Hasson dives back to first.

South Portland second baseman Ben Conti whips the ball toward first after completing half a potential double-play.

South Portland ace Griffin Kelley fires a pitch toward home plate.


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