Scarborough’s Nick Thompson jumps for joy after touching home plate following his eighth inning home run in Saturday’s Class A state final. Thompson’s home run gave the Red Storm a 3-2 lead over undefeated Oxford Hills and Scarborough held on to win by that score for its first title in 33 years.

Scarborough’s softball team celebrates at the conclusion of Saturday’s 11-1 victory over Skowhegan in the Class A state final. The Red Storm finished 20-0 for the third year in a row and captured their third consecutive championship.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Scarborough-South Portland baseball game story, see theforecaster.net)

Scarborough has long been queens of the diamond, but this spring, the Red Storm are kings as well, as both the baseball and softball teams captured Class A state championships Saturday.

Out of the blue

Scarborough’s baseball team won just six games in 2018 and was on no one’s radar as a favorite this spring, but no one works magic like coach Mike D’Andrea and the 2019 Red Storm might have been his tour de force.

Scarborough rode the pitching dominance of Jack Clark and Nick Thompson to a 12-4 record, then, as the No. 3 seed in Class A South, the Red Storm blanked No. 6 Cheverus, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and rallied for a 3-1 win over No. 7 Falmouth in the semifinals.

That sent Scarborough to St. Joseph’s College in Standish last Wednesday for a showdown with top-ranked South Portland in the regional final.

The Red Riots had blanked No. 9 Biddeford, 3-0, in the quarterfinals and held off No. 4 Marshwood, 4-2, in the semifinals.

The Red Storm, appearing in their first regional final since 2012, would need 11 innings to advance and would do so thanks in large part to five South Portland errors.

Thompson, the starting pitcher, doubled home Zach Alofs for a 1-0 lead in the top off the first, but the Red Riots got a strong pitching performance from Noah Lewis and rallied to go up, 2-1, thanks to a second inning sacrifice fly from Gus Lappin and an unearned run in the third.

With two outs and no one on in the top of the fifth, South Portland rallied to tie the score as Noah Frink walked on a 3-2 pitch, stole second, then came home on a throwing error.

And from there, Lewis and Thompson matched zeroes into extra innings.

Clark came on to relieve Thompson in eighth and Lappin replaced Lewis in the ninth and the score remained, 2-2, into the 11th inning.

There, Thompson reached on an error, moved to second on another error, then scored on a one-out double from designated hitter Peter O’Brien.

Clark stranded the tying run at second in the bottom of the frame and the Red Storm, for just the second time in Class A and the third time overall, advanced to the state final by virtue of a marathon 3-2 victory.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Clark. “This means so much. We had nothing to lose. We were the underdog.”

“South Portland is a very good team and we’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in,” said D’Andrea. “(Jack) did what we needed him to do and as a team, the boys did what they needed to do. I’m proud of them.”

For the Red Riots, it was just their second loss in 19 games and the end came painfully.

“We just gave them too many chances and when Clark came in, he was great, he just blew us away,” lamented South Portland coach Mike Owens. “We looked really uncomfortable at the plate.”

Scarborough advanced to face the Herculean task of meeting undefeated Oxford Hills in the Class A state final Saturday in Augusta, where the Red Storm prevailed again in extra innings by a 3-2 score.

In even more dramatic fashion.

O’Brien walked with the bases loaded in the first inning to give Scarborough an early lead and Clark was brilliant, holding that advantage through six.

“My outside fastball was working the entire time,” Clark said. “For the first half of the game, I don’t think they’d seen a lot of that.”

“He has matured so much over the last couple of years,” D’Andrea said, of Clark. “This year, he became a real quiet competitor. He’s a cerebral player and now he’s a competitive player. You take that on the mound, the smart player with a guy competing out there. He just has a will to win.”

In the top of the seventh, the Red Storm made it 2-0, as Noah Frink hit a sacrifice fly, but the Vikings rallied with two down in the bottom half to tie it.

“I left a couple pitches over the middle of the plate and they did what they were supposed to do, they hit them,” Clark said.

Oxford Hills had a chance to win it with the bases loaded, but Clark got a key strikeout to send the game to the eighth innings.

Thompson then leapfrogged Joe Cronin for the honor of biggest home run in program history (Cronin hit a walkoff against Cheverus to win the 2012 regional title), leading off the eighth with a blast over the fence in right-center and Scarborough retook the lead.

The home run was the first of Thompson’s high school career.

“I did feel deflated for a second (after Oxford Hills rallied), but you can’t let yourself get down,” Thompson said. “Coach always just tells me to hit the ball hard. I saw an inside pitch. I did my best to turn on it. I think the wind really helped me out on that, to be honest. It went over the fence. It was a great feeling.”

In the bottom half, Clark got an out, then had to leave after reaching the 110-pitch limit, Ryan Gambardella came on in relief.

“When I went out there and gave (Gambardella) the ball, he said, ‘Let’s win this coach. Let’s win this,’” D’Andrea said. “I had a good feeling walking away from the mound.”

Gambardella retired two straight to end it and give the Red Storm the championship.

“I heard the fans and stuff and that got me into it,” Gambardella said. “With the best defense in the state behind me, I knew I was good.”

“This is familiar territory for us,” said D’Andrea, who won his eighth state title as a coach (seven with Deering). “We’ve been dealing with this all year. So, am I surprised? Not really. Was I excited about it? Not really. I would have liked to win in regulation. But I said that coming in, that this is a resilient group. They found a way to win. They’ve been doing it all year.”

Big Red Machine

Scarborough’s softball team had some question marks when the season began, as just two starters returned, but as the year progressed, the Red Storm did what they always do, win every time out.

Scarborough extended its seven-year regular season win streak to 105 games in going 16-0 and as the top seed in Class A South for the eighth year in a row, eliminated No. 8 Bonny Eagle (9-2) in the quarterfinals and No. 5 South Portland (12-0, in five-innings) in the semifinals.

That set up a regional final showdown versus second-ranked Thornton Academy last Wednesday at St. Joe’s. The Red Storm had only beaten the Golden Trojans by a run in the regular season and fell behind, 3-0, after a half-inning, then roared to life.

Scarborough got single runs in the first, second and third innings, then went on top in the fourth, when pitcher Bella Dickinson drove in Mollie Verreault with an RBI single. A.J. Swett singled home Dickinson to make it 5-3.

Swett doubled in another run in the sixth and Caitlin Noiles broke it open with a two-run double and the Red Storm went on to their third straight regional crown.

“This is special, especially after losing eight seniors from last year,” said Scarborough senior second baseman Courtney Brochu. “A lot of people didn’t think we’d be very good, or at least as good as we were. So it feels good to just prove everybody wrong and say we’re still pretty good, we’re still Scarborough, we can still play softball.”

“Chip away, chip away, chip away,” said Scarborough coach Tom Griffin. “We knew three runs wasn’t going to win this game. We just needed to keep chipping away, and we did.”

Saturday, in Brewer, the Red Storm met undefeated Skowhegan in the state final for the fifth time and for the fifth time, came away victorious.

In more lopsided fashion than many expected.

Dickinson dazzled with a two-hit, 12-strikeout performance, as well as belting a three-run triple, and Brochu crushed a grand slam to lead the way to an 11-1 victory.

“Beginning of the season, I knew we’d be decent, we always have great talent coming up, but no one thought we would make it this far, especially with that ending on the scoreboard,” Brochu said. “It’s just amazing.”

“This one is a little unexpected to be honest,” said Griffin. “I’m speechless for these kids. They’re they toughest kids I’ve ever coached, mentally. They just know how to win, especially at such a young age.”

Press Herald staff writers Steve Craig and Mike Lowe and Sun Journal staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.