SOUTH BERWICK — There was no worry in the Marshwood High baseball dugout. Despite being held without a hit by Portland starting pitcher Sonny Villani for four innings and trailing by a run on Wednesday, the Hawks knew the game would swing in their favor.

And it did. The fourth-ranked Hawks scored three times in the bottom of the fifth, with DJ Cagnina delivering the key hit, and went on to beat the 12th-ranked Bulldogs 4-1 in a Class A South quarterfinal game. It was Marshwood’s eighth consecutive win.

“We’ve got really huge heart,” said Cagnina, a sophomore designated hitter. “We’ve battled all throughout the season, lots of comebacks … I think we’ve got the biggest heart in the league. We never quit.”

Marshwood (12-5) will play the winner of Thursday’s South Portland-Biddeford game in the regional semifinals on Saturday. Portland, which lost to Marshwood 5-0 two weeks ago, finished 8-10.

The Bulldogs got a run in the third on an RBI double by Donnie Tocci to lead 1-0, but stranded six runners in the first four innings against Marshwood starter Marshall Smaracko. And, in the end, that was significant.

“We had guys on base all game,” said Portland Coach Mike Rutherford. “This guy’s one of the best pitchers in the league and we had guys in scoring position and had plenty of opportunities to make it 2-0, 3-0, 4-0. Totally different. Give (Smaracko) credit. That kid made great pitches when it counted.”

Marshwood, meanwhile, waited for its chance. Villani needed 38 pitches to get through the first four innings, his assortment of off-speed stuff keeping the Hawks unbalanced. Villani then got the first two outs of the fifth – on just two pitches – when things unraveled.

Gabe Place worked a walk, then was replaced by pinch-runner Cole McShane. Adam Doyon got Marshwood’s first hit when his line drive short-hopped past Portland shortstop Billy Barnard. Then Cagnina stepped in.

“Runner on second, I was just trying to hit the ball hard, do some damage,” he said. “Put the ball in play and make things happen.”

Cagnina, a left-handed batter, pulled an inside pitch into right field. McShane scored the tying run and the throw bounced past Portland catcher Sam Knop. As he raced after the ball, Doyon collided with Portland third baseman Dante Tocci. Doyon recovered and raced home, but was thrown out. After the umpires conferred, Doyon was awarded home plate – and the go-ahead run – on an obstruction call.

“They got it right,” said Rutherford.

Cagnina, meanwhile, ended up on third and scored on a bunt by Jay Lyman to make it 3-1. A sacrifice fly by Quinn McDaniel in the bottom of the sixth made it 4-1. Smaracko set the Bulldogs down 1-2-3 in the seventh – the only time he did it in the game.

“This group is resilient,” said Marshwood Coach Eric Fernandes. “No one’s head goes down, they don’t fight at each other, no one pouts, no one gives up. This wasn’t a down dugout at all today.”

 

 


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