Two weeks ago, Marshwood High’s baseball team was hovering under .500.

Now the Hawks look like a contender.

That’s what six straight wins – including a no-hit gem by Marshall Smaracko against No. 3 Scarborough and upsetting No. 1 South Portland – does for a team.

“We were scuffling. We took down Kennebunk when they were at their best and the next game we scuffled against Falmouth,” said Marshwood Coach Eric Fernandes. “Marshall’s no-hitter and then taking down South Portland, these guys earned some confidence.”

The win streak has also thrust the Hawks (11-5) into fourth in the Class A South standings, which means a first-round bye in the playoffs is theirs if they win Thursday in the season finale against Noble (7-7), which will be fighting for its playoff life.

The Hawks’ rise corresponds to Smaracko, a hard-throwing right-hander, harnessing command of what Fernandes calls “a violent delivery.” Smaracko has struck out 48 in 40 1/3 innings, against 17 walks with a 1.51 ERA. Batters are hitting .128.

In his last four starts, including a two-hit loss to Biddeford, Smaracko is 3-1 and has allowed nine hits.

“And the last two outings he’s found a change-up. And his curveball, when he’s got it, can be very, very deadly working off of his fastball,” Fernandes said. “But at one point last game (a 5-0, two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout of Portland), I said to one of my assistants, ‘I don’t even know why he’s messing around with the off-speed. They aren’t even coming close to his fastball.'”

Smaracko also earned a save in Marshwood’s 2-1 win at South Portland, the Red Riots’ only loss. The win went to senior John Riccardi with five innings of scoreless relief, throwing a variety of off-speed pitches.

Marshwood shortstop Quinn McDaniel is having what Fernandes called a “player of the year,” season. He’s hitting .571 with nine doubles, three triples, 14 RBI and 20 runs scored. In the field, he has two errors in 61 chances.

Trevor Chase has used his speed to beat out 22 singles for a .511 batting average. After a bit of a slow start at the plate, junior catcher Connor Caverly, a University of Maine commit, has been slugging with a .375 average, 17 RBI and one 400-foot eighth-inning homer at Windham to secure a 12-9 win. Lefty-hitting junior Gabe Place (.364), Smaracko (.386, 11 RBI) and Eli Janetos (.414 on-base, 16 runs) have also been productive offensive contributors.

SOUTH PORTLAND’S 1-2 starting pitching combination of juniors Hunter Owen and Noah Lewis would seem to make the Red Riots the clear favorite in Class A South. Both are unbeaten (solid lefty Bradley McMains was the hard-luck loser against Marshwood). Owen has not allowed an earned run this season (62 strikeouts in 34 innings) and Lewis has allowed just two. But Coach Mike Owens notes his club has won several close games.
“I don’t think there’s any clear favorite. We have the top two guys but we need to score some runs,” Owens said.

THERE IS only one unbeaten team left in Maine: Lisbon. The Greyhounds are 14-0 in Class C South entering Wednesday’s home game against defending Class C state champion Hall-Dale (12-3), and will finish the regular season at Winthrop (9-5) on Thursday.

It’s not a real surprise that Lisbon is a contender. Coach Randy Ridley’s club has reached three straight regional semifinals, with losses in the regional final in 2016 and the state final in 2017.

But Ridley did graduate six starters from the 2018 team.

“We have two fantastic high school baseball players in Lucas Francis and Noah Austin and they’ve brought these young players and first-year players along,” Ridley said. “Their leadership skills have been fantastic.”

The pair have also gotten it done on the field. Francis is 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA when he’s not starting at shortstop. Austin patrols center field and has been an effective pitcher (16 innings, 1.10 ERA). DJ Douglass, a junior, plays short when Francis is pitching and the outfield and is also 4-0 with a 0.80 ERA.

Lisbon has played a dichotomous schedule. Several wins have been lopsided routs against teams that won’t make the playoffs. But it has quality wins against Class B teams Mountain Valley (12-3), Oak Hill (8-8) and Spruce Mountain (6-9) and has already beaten Hall-Dale.

“We’ve faced some very good pitching, some very good teams that have come after us with their best players,” Ridley said.


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