Call it a mutual admiration society. Call it a winning formula.

Call it what you want. The combination of great pitching and defense is working for the Cheverus High baseball team.

Jack Casale gave up hits to the first two batters and just two more the rest of the way Saturday as second-seeded Cheverus beat third-ranked Gorham 5-1 in a Class A South semifinal.

The Stags (17-1) will face top-ranked Falmouth (17-1) in the regional final at 3 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College.

The teams didn’t meet in the regular season. It will be Cheverus’ first trip to the final since losing to Scarborough in 2012.

Falmouth, the defending regional champion, beat Portland 4-3 in nine innings in the other semifinal.

Casale, a senior right-hander, had his fastball boring over the inside corner and was backed by an errorless defense.

“The type of style I pitch, the ball is going to get put in play and I have complete confidence in everyone in the field,” Casale said.

The defensive highlights were a long running catch by left fielder Cam Dube on a slicing fly ball after Casale’s only walk, and shortstop Griffin Watson’s backhanded stab in the hole followed by a strong throw to end the sixth with a runner at second.

“(Casale) throws a ton of strikes, he doesn’t walk a lot of guys, and it just makes life a lot easier behind him,” Watson said. “And he knows our whole defense (is) his support, so he’s not afraid to go after guys.”

“Defense and pitching gets it done at this time,” said Cheverus Coach Mac McKew. “It’s a simple formula, but it’s hard to execute.”

Because Casale (6-0, six complete games) threw only 87 pitches, he’ll be available Wednesday. Senior left-hander Jared Brooks, who pitched a one-hitter against Deering in the quarterfinals, is expected to start against Falmouth.

Cheverus also had timely hitting, especially from cleanup man Maxx St. John. His two-strike, two-out RBI double in the second put Cheverus ahead 2-1 and came after Brooks was walked intentionally.

“Adjusting swings in practice the other day, I really put in a lot of time focusing on hitting the outside pitch,” St. John said.

With two outs in the fourth and the score 3-1, Gorham walked Brooks to load the bases. On an 0-2 count, St. John slapped a two-run single to left.

“They wanted to make St. John beat them and he did,” McKew said.

Gorham (15-3), in its first regional semifinal in Coach Chuck Nadeau’s nine-year tenure, attacked in the first. Ben Nelson and Jason Komulainen had hard singles, and after a passed ball, Nelson scored on a long flyout by Kyle King.

Starting with a good play by third baseman Chandler Hartigan to end the first, Casale retired 10 straight and 14 of 15 before a sixth-inning single by King.

“When you get opportunities against a kid like Casale, you want to take advantage of them because you know you’re not going to get many,” Nadeau said. “And that proved to be true.”

Cheverus tied it in the second when Logan McCarthy scored on Justin Ray’s suicide squeeze.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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