Scarborough senior Ryan Gambardella throws a strike to Deering junior Connor Coleman early in the Red Storm’s 14-1 victory Friday night. Hoffer photo

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 14 Deering 1 (6)

S- 021 515- 14 8 3
D- 000 100- 1 1 5

Top 2nd
Townsend scored on error. Sullivan scored on wild pitch.

Top 3rd
O’Brien singled to right, Frink scored.

Top 4th
Liponis singled to left, Porter and Gower scored. Liponis scored on error. O’Brien scored on error. Townsend singled to center, Seguin scored.

Bottom 4th
Coleman scored on wild pitch.

Top 5th
Donahue grounded out to third, Seguin scored.

Top 6th
Blanchette doubled to right, Frink scored. Seguin scored on wild pitch. Porter singled to center, Blanchette scored. Liponis singled to center, Porter and Gower scored.

Multiple hits:
S- Gower, Liponis

Runs:
S- Seguin 3, Frink, Gower, Porter 2, Blanchette, Liponis, O’Brien, Sullivan, Townsend
D- Coleman

RBI:
S- Liponis 4, Blanchette, Donahue, O’Brien, Porter, Townsend

Doubles:
S- Blanchette
D- Newhall

Stolen bases:
S- Gower, O’Brien, Townsend 2, Donahue, Frink, Porter, Seguin
D- Coleman

Left on base:
S- 7
D- 2

Gambardella, Townsend (6) and Frink; Coleman, Harbaugh (4), Keast and Brady.

S:
Gambardella (W, 1-0) 5 IP 1 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 7 K 1 WP
Townsend 1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 3 K

D:
Coleman (L, 0-1) 3.2 IP 4 H 6 R 3 ER 4 BB 8 K 1 HBP 1 WP
Harbaugh 1.1 IP 1 H 3 R 1 ER 1 BB 0 K 1 WP 1 HBP
Keast 1 IP 3 H 5 R 5 ER 2 BB 0 K 5 WP 2  HBP

Time: 2:15

PORTLAND—It didn’t result in a championship celebration like its last outing, but Scarborough’s baseball team was thrilled to return to action Friday night for the first time in nearly two years.

Facing Deering in the teams’ mutual season opener at Hadlock Field, the Red Storm, the reigning Class A state champions, got a strong start from senior Ryan Gambardella, four RBI from senior shortstop T.J. Liponis and stole 10 bases en route to a 14-1, six-inning victory.

After scoring twice in the top of the second inning and once in the third, Scarborough blew the game open with a five-run fourth. The Rams got a run back in the bottom half, but the Red Storm scored a run in the fifth, then got five more in the sixth to put it away.

“It’s great to play again,” said Liponis. “The nerves were there after not being on the field for a high school game in nearly two years, but it was a fun day.”

New faces

Scarborough lived a fantasy experience in 2019, stunning just about everyone outside of town lines by making a dramatic and spirited run to a first-ever Class A championship.

But since then, much has changed with the Red Storm who lost coach Mike D’Andrea to Falmouth, then lost the 2020 season altogether to the pandemic. Through it all, graduation took its toll as well and Scarborough, now coached by Wes Ridlon, a former program assistant, has a very different look than it had when it celebrated its championship two short years ago.

As for Deering, the Rams went 4-12 in 2019, then sat idle last spring. This season, Deering welcomes one of the state’s special athletes of recent vintage, Ryan Martin, the Maranacook baseball and basketball star (and Maine’s Mr. Basketball in 2008), as its new coach.

The Rams and Red Storm last squared off May 7, 2019 and Deering prevailed, 7-3, in Scarborough.

Friday, the Red Storm were in control almost throughout and ended the contest via the mercy rule.

Deering junior starter Conner Coleman walked junior leftfielder Gabe Donahue on a 3-2 pitch to begin the game, then got Liponis to fly out to center, junior catcher Nic Frink to watch strike three and after Donahue registered Scarborough’s first steal, Coleman fanned senior centerfielder Peter O’Brien to end the inning.

In the bottom half, Gambardella caught freshman third baseman Avery Lawrence looking at strike three, got senior shortstop Matt Keast to ground out to second and fanned Coleman on a full count pitch.

Scarborough got the jump in the top of the second, with some help from the Rams.

After Coleman fanned junior rightfielder Ben Seguin on a 3-2 pitch, senior third baseman Joe Townsend singled to center. Junior first baseman Cade Sullivan was next. He grounded to Keast at short, but an errant throw allowed Sullivan to reach and Townsend to take second. Coleman then tried to pick Townsend off, but his throw went awry and Townsend scored and Sullivan took third. Freshman designated hitter Mason Porter walked and Porter promptly stole second. After Coleman struck out junior second baseman Connor Gower, he threw a wild pitch to score Sullivan. Donahue struck out swinging, but the Red Storm had a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom half, junior centerfielder Qwest Newhall led off for Deering and laced a double to deep leftfield, but Gambardella would strand him, getting junior catcher Dempsey Brady to line to left, freshman first baseman Jackson Forrest to watch strike three and junior rightfielder Eli Bigelman to ground out to short.

Scarborough then made it 3-0 in the top of the third, as after Liponis struck out, Frink singled to right, stole second and came home when O’Brien singled to right. O’Brien moved up to second on an error and stole third, but Seguin struck out swinging and after hitting Townsend with a pitch, Coleman got Sullivan to line out to left.

Gambardella made quick work of Deering in the bottom half, getting junior second baseman Drew Hamilton to ground out to third, senior leftfielder Noah Canter to bounce out to third and Lawrence to watch strike three.

Scarborough broke it open in the top of the fourth.

After Porter walked, Gower did the same. Donahue flew out to right, with Porter taking third, then Gower stole second. That set the stage for Liponis, who singled past Lawrence, down the third base line, and both runners came in to score.

“The first time we saw live pitching was the other day at practice,” Liponis said. “Tonight, our second at-bats we all started to hit the ball well.”

After an errant pickoff throw, Liponis went to third. Coleman then struck out Frink with what proved to be his final pitch.

Senior Lucas Harbaugh came on in relief and hit O’Brien with a pitch. Seguin then grounded to short where Keast misplayed the ball for an error, bringing home O’Brien, then he threw it away, scoring Liponis and allowing Seguin to take second. Townsend made the Rams pay with an RBI single to center. Sullivan lined out to left, but the Red Storm had an 8-0 lead.

Deering got on the board with an unearned run in its half of the fourth.

After Keast grounded out to first unassisted, Coleman reached on an error by Gower. Newhall struck out on a 3-2 pitch, but Coleman stole second. Brady then reached on an error by Gower and a wild pitch brought Coleman home. Sophomore Ethan Berkowitz grounded to first unassisted to end the frame.

In the top of the fifth, Porter popped out back to the mound, Harbaugh walked Seguin and after Seguin stole second, he was wild pitched to third. A ground ball to third off the bat of Donahue brought Seguin home and while Liponis flew out to center for the third out, Scarborough’s lead was 9-1.

In the bottom half, in what proved to be Gambardella’s last inning, Harbaugh reached on a Gower error, but Gambardella struck out Hamilton and fanned Canter too with Harbaugh running and Frink threw him out to complete the double play and end the inning.

Keast came on to pitch in the top of the sixth and the Red Storm scored five more runs.

Frink led off with a walk. After O’Brien struck out swinging, a wild pitch moved Frink to second. Seguin was then hit by a pitch. Sophomore Ashton Blanchette pinch-hit for Townsend and doubled to right, scoring Frink and moving Seguin to third. A wild pitch then scored Seguin to make it 11-1. After Sullivan popped out to short, Porter singled up the middle to drive home Blanchette. Consecutive wild pitches moved Porter to third and Gower walked before moving to second on another wild pitch. Donahue was hit by a pitch to load the bases and again, Liponis came up with the big hit, singling to center to score two more runs. Frink popped out to second to end it and Scarborough had a 14-1 lead.

Townsend came on to close it out in the bottom half and he was unhittable, fanning Lawrence swinging, getting Keast to watch strike three, then striking out Coleman swinging to end it.

“We’re pursuing our (championship) goal again and we’re having fun,” Gambardella said. “It’s nice to be back out here.”

“It’s been a long wait and I’m happy for the kids to get back out here competing and enjoying baseball,” Ridlon said. “It’s a completely different team, but the holdovers from that state championship team want to show the younger guys the way we play baseball. We want everyone to be involved. That’s something we had a couple years ago. It’s not just nine guys. It’s 13 or 14 guys. It’s great to see that we were ready to play.”

Scarborough only registered eight hits (Gower and Liponis had two apiece), but it made the most of them.

Seguin scored three times, Frink, Gower and Porter had two runs apiece and Blanchette, Liponis, O’Brien, Sullivan and Townsend also touched home plate.

Liponis finished with four RBI, while Blanchette, Donahue, O’Brien, Porter and Townsend added one apiece.

Ten stolen bases went a long way toward victory as well.

“That’s just the way the game flowed,” Ridlon said. “If we have opportunities to run, we will. It’s dictated by the game.”

The Red Storm stranded seven runners and committed three errors.

Gambardella earned the victory, allowing just one hit and no earned runs in five innings of work. He didn’t walk a batter, struck out seven and threw one wild pitch.

“I got that outside corner with my fastball and they had a hard time hitting it,” said Gambardella. “It’s awesome to know I had a lot of runs behind me. I wanted to finish, but it wasn’t my choice.”

“Ryan was phenomenal,” Liponis said. “I was a little upset he didn’t give us more ground balls (on the infield), but he was really good.”

“I thought (Ryan) worked ahead well, threw strikes and competed,” Ridlon said. “For him, it’s still early, but he’ll continue to get better as we ramp him up.”

Townsend was perfect in his inning of relief, striking out the side.

Coleman took the loss for Deering, surrendering six runs (three earned) on four hits in 3.2 innings. He walked four, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and struck out eight. Coleman also scored the Rams’ lone run.

“I thought (Conner) pitched well,” Martin said. “He’s our number one guy and he throws strikes. He competes. He’s a baseball guy. He was ready to go against a good Scarborough team.”

Harbaugh gave up three runs (one earned) on one hit in 1.1 innings. He walked one, hit one and threw a wild pitch.

Keast allowed five earned runs on three hits and two walks in his inning of relief.

“Some errors hurt us, but (Scarborough’s) speed really put pressure on us,” Martin said. “It’s tough to open up against a team that good. I thought our energy stayed high. Being down big in a first game, it’s hard to keep your energy high, but I liked our attitude the whole game. I saw some good signs with our pitchers and we had some good at-bats too. It’s good to get a game in.”

Step two

Deering stays home to meet Westbrook Tuesday as it seeks its initial victory. A home game against Thornton Academy follows on Thursday.

“It’s hard to know what teams are good this year,” Martin said. “Hopefully we’ll start swinging the bats a little bit better.”

Scarborough plays its home opener Tuesday versus Portland. Gorham then pays a visit Friday.

“I think we look really good,” said Gambardella. “I think we have a similar team to two years ago.”

“The biggest thing for us two years ago was keeping everything high energy in the dugout and this group of guys, everyone is up and screaming,” Liponis said. “We just have to keep playing ball like we do.”

“For us, it’s just about getting better,” Ridlon added. “There are some things we can clean up and that comes with time. I think every year, we just want to compete for a state championship.”

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

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