Kennebunk junior shortstop Nick Teguis high-fives Tommy Lazos during a win over Deering on April 30. Lazos, a junior catcher, is Kennebunk’s leading hitter at .500. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

KENNEBUNK — Kennebunk High is the surprise team in southern Maine through the first month of the season. After winning a total of seven games the past two seasons, the Rams were atop the Class A South standings entering Wednesday with a 6-1 record.

“People are starting to talk about us now. Which is different,” said senior outfielder Derek Smith, a speedster who has signed to play for Division I Bryant University. “In football we’re used to it, but for baseball it’s definitely a change. A nice change.”

Since 2010, the Rams have made three playoff appearances, losing in the Class A preliminary round from 2014-16 after playing a Class B regular-season schedule as a member of the Western Maine Conference. They were 3-13 in 2017 in their final WMC season, and 4-12 last year with a Class A schedule as a member of the SMAA.

“I think we’re all a little surprised, but I will say we knew we had great kids,” Coach Brian Dill said. “We thought we’d be improved. We weren’t exactly sure, but we have played really well.”

Junior catcher Tommy Lazos, the team’s leading hitter at .500 with a .714 on-base percentage, said he’s not surprised by Kennebunk’s improvement.

“A lot of us were on the same Little League teams and all-star teams, so from a young age we’ve always been playing together and we were pretty successful,” Lazos said.

Kennebunk’s pitching and defense have been outstanding, with four shutouts and just seven errors.

“Pitching gives us a chance to win every game. Defense, we just don’t make a lot of errors, and we’re really just a family as a team,” said junior shortstop Nick Teguis.

Junior pitcher Ronin Tachibana, who missed almost all of his sophomore season because of an elbow injury, shut out Windham 2-0 on two hits in the season opener and beat Thornton Academy, 1-0.

“Tachibana is tough. He got our leadoff hitter out every single inning,” said Thornton Coach Jason Lariviere. “I like to play small ball, but when you have one out or two outs, you can’t really do that. You have to string together hits, and they made plays. They’re not flashy, but they made plays and played well behind him.”

In Smith and left fielder Ryan Connors, the Rams have two outfielders with very good speed. Dill said that with Teguis, freshman third baseman Landon Schwartzman, and his second-base combo of Alex Champagne and Dom DeFeo, “we feel we have three shortstops.” At 6-foot-4, Oliver Leonard provides a good, dependable target at first base.

Leonard and DeFeo, two sophomores, have also been solid starting pitchers, focused on throwing strikes. Leonard shut out Massabesic 1-0 and then unbeaten Cheverus, 3-0.  DeFeo two-hit Deering in a five-inning, 20-2 win.

“We knew Ronin was going to be dominant, but Oliver and Dom have really stepped it up this year and have been very impressive,” Smith said.

ANOTHER TEAM bouncing back this season is Scarborough, which took a 4-0 record into an unusual doubleheader Wednesday, with the Red Storm hosting first Sanford, and then Deering.

Scarborough is coming off a 6-11 season that included a preliminary-round playoff loss. While Coach Mike D’Andrea cautioned that his club hasn’t played “any of the big guys yet,” he does like the way they’ve played.

“We’ve had a couple of come-from-behind wins, and defensively we’re playing pretty well in some key positions,” D’Andrea said. “You look at the way we’re playing baseball as a whole, we’ve stepped it up in areas where we struggled last year.”

Freshmen T.J. Liponis (shortstop) and Nic Frink (catcher) have handled two critical positions well. Liponis has contributed some timely hits. Frink has had two hits in each game, with a home run and two doubles.

“It’s very unusual to have freshmen step into those positions. They’ve made some mistakes and they’ve made some great plays,” D’Andrea said. “They play travel baseball, so they’ve played a lot of baseball and they’re good enough. At the end of the day, they’re good enough to perform.”

YET ANOTHER team on the rebound is Bonny Eagle. The Scots, 6-10 without a playoff appearance last season, improved to 6-1 with a 9-4 win at Marshwood on Tuesday. Cam Phinney has been the ace, and he picked up the win against the Hawks.

 


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