SACO — Hitters on the South Portland baseball team struck out more and walked less than Thornton Academy, and the defense made more errors than the Trojans in Tuesday’s Class A South game.

But timely hitting can make up for those miscues and it was the difference in a 9-6 win over Thornton. The Red Riots (11-2) won despite making seven errors and striking out eight times in rainy conditions. Caden Horton and Hunter Owen led the way on offense, combining for five of South Portland’s nine hits.

“We did make a lot of mistakes, and that’s a good team so it’s hard to overcome those,” South Portland Coach Mike Owens said. “But we never really got down on ourselves, and we put together some really good at-bats in some key situations.”

Thornton Academy pitcher Brogan Searle-Belanger slides safely into home as South Portland catcher Caden Horton awaits the throw. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Down 5-4, South Portland took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. Noah McHugh led off with a walk before Thornton Academy pitcher Brogan Searle-Belanger struck out the next two South Portland batters.

With two outs, McHugh stole second and then scored on a throwing error that allowed batter Jake Poole to reach and advance to second. Horton then tripled on a line drive to center field that scored Poole. Owen followed with a double on a line drive to left field that scored Horton for a 7-5 lead.

Searle-Belanger struck out Dillan Bolduc to end the inning.

“We have confidence that we can beat anybody – we just have to put together a full game against a good team and make that big play,” Thornton Academy Coach Jason Lariviere said. “I felt like, when we had the opportunity to make a big play today, we didn’t come up with it.”

South Portland’s Riley Hasson slides into Thornton Academy’s Brogan Searle-Belanger, knocking the ball from the mitt and landing safely on third. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The Trojans (8-5) – who had five hits while striking out only twice – cut South Portland’s lead to 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth when Jacob Laplume scored on an error. Later in the inning, with two outs, Searle-Belanger singled and Cameron Seymour reached on an error before Tim Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice. Shortstop Riley Hasson made the play to hold Thornton Academy to just one run.

The Red Riots extended their lead with two runs in the top of the seventh. Zach Johnson and Horton singled before Owen tripled to score both runners. In the bottom half of the inning, a double play and a groundout ended the game.

“We could have cleaned it up a little in the field – there’s always room for improvement there,” Owen said. “We believe we’re the best team in the state and we just have to prove it.”

Rain posed a challenge for both teams, particularly in the third and fourth innings when it was heaviest. Thornton Academy took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, with four walks and errors to score Luke Chessie and Searle-Belanger.

After a single and a walk, the Red Riots got on the board when Jake Poole singled to score Hasson and move Johnson to second. Johnson went to third on a wild pitch to Horton, who walked and scored on a sacrifice fly from Owen.

South Portland’s Gus Lappin, right, welcomes catcher Caden Horton back to the dugout after Horton scored his second run of the game. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Another wild pitch scored Poole and an infield error that scored Horton to put South Portland up 4-2.

Thornton got ahead one final time in bottom of the fourth. Two walks and a single loaded the bases. Chessie walked to score one before a sacrifice fly and an error allowed two more runners to score for a 5-4 Trojans lead.

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or

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