Cheverus 12 Deering 2 (6)

C- 301 161- 12 11 3
D- 000 020- 2 6 4

Top 1st
B. Connolly doubled to left, Cormier scored. Clark singled to left, B. Connolly scored. Giancotti singled to left, Clark scored.

Top 3rd
Clark scored on error.

Top 4th
Tremble scored on Guibord squeeze bunt.

Top 5th
Clark doubled to center, B. Connolly scored. Guibord singled to left, Clark and K. Connolly scored. Cormier singled to right, Header and Guibord scored. Connor singled to right, Cormier scored.

Bottom 5th
Lawrence scored on error. Brady doubled to center, Keast scored.

Top 6th
Header singled to right, K. Connolly scored.

Multiple hits:
C- Clark, B. Connolly, Cormier, Header
D- Keast

C- Clark 3, B. Connolly, K. Connolly, Cormier 2, Guibord, Header, Tremble
D- Keast, Lawrence

C- Guibord 3, Clark, Cormier 2, B. Connolly, Connor, Giancotti, Header
D- Brady

C- Clark, B. Connolly
D- Brady

C- Header

Stolen bases:
C- Cormier 4, Clark 3, Tremble 2, B. Connolly, K. Connolly, Giancotti
D- Corson, Keast

Left on base:
C- 7
D- 5

B. Connolly, Connor (3), Lucier (5) and K. Connolly; Coleman, Lawrence (6) and Brady.

B. Connolly 2 IP 3 H 0 R 0 BB 3 K
Connor (W) 2 IP 0 H 0 R 1 BB 4 K
Lucier 2 IP 3 H 2 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

Coleman (L) 5 IP 10 H 11 R 9 ER 1 BB 7 K 3 HBP 1 Balk
Lawrence 1 IP 1 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 0 K

Time: 1:48

PORTLAND—Cheverus’ baseball team enjoyed a nearly perfect day Thursday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

For starters, the Stags got the play in the finest high school baseball setting you’ll find in the state on a beautiful day and there were fans on hand to cheer them, and their opponent, the Deering Rams, on.

Cheverus was able to get some young pitchers some experience, played solid defense, produced 11 hits and ran wild on the basepaths, to the tune of 12 stolen bases, and led from start to finish as it continued its recent surge.

The Stags set the tone with a three-run first inning, as freshman starting pitcher Brian Connolly hit an RBI double, senior first baseman Sam Clark hit an RBI single and senior leftfielder Nick Giancotti added a two-out RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

After Connolly blanked the Rams for two innings, Cheverus made it 4-0 in the top of the third, as Clark came around to score on an error and in the fourth, an RBI squeeze bunt from junior designated hitter Orion Guibord made it a five-run game.

After sophomore Matt Connor served a two-inning shutout stint on the mound for the Stags, their offense put up a six-spot in the top of the fifth inning, as Clark doubled in a run, Guibord and senior second baseman Brady Cormier each had two-run singles and Connor added an RBI single for an 11-0 lead.

But Deering, to its credit, refused to lose by the mercy rule, rallying for two runs in the bottom half, on an error and an RBI double from junior catcher Dempsey Brady.

Cheverus then ended the game in the sixth, scoring a run in top half on an RBI single from senior centerfielder Jackson Header and this time, sophomore reliever Jacob Lucier set the Rams down in order to close out a 12-2, six-inning victory.

The Stags improved to 4-3 and in the process, dropped Deering to 0-9.

“You can’t take playing here for granted,” said first-year Cheverus coach Tony DiBiase. “When I coached Portland, every team came in here and was super-psyched to play here and you had to have your ‘A’ game. It’s always a great experience to play here. The field’s in great shape like usual. There was a great crowd. It was a great day to play.”

Coming to life

Cheverus struggled out of the gate, losing at home to Thornton Academy (14-4, in five-innings) and at South Portland (4-0). The Stags then defeated host Bonny Eagle (5-3), visiting Westbrook (14-1, in five-innings) and host Deering (13-0) before going eight-innings with visiting, reigning Class A champion Scarborough Tuesday before falling, 3-1.

Deering, under new coach Ryan Martin, started with a 14-1 (six-inning) home loss to Scarborough, then was beaten by visiting Westbrook (15-1, in five-innings), Thornton Academy (23-0, in five-innings) and Falmouth in a doubleheader (13-0 in five-innings and 10-2). After falling at Biddeford, 13-0 (in five-innings), the Rams dropped 13-0 decisions to visiting Cheverus and at South Portland (in five-innings) Tuesday.

In the teams’ first meeting, Clark threw a three-hit shutout and struck out a dozen and the Stags put it away with an eight-run seventh inning.

That win was Cheverus’ first over Deering since the 2018 season.

Thursday, on a picture-perfect mid-May afternoon (66 degrees with a slight breeze at the onset), the Stags did it again.

In the top of the first, Cormier took a strike from Rams junior starter Conner Coleman to start the game, then watched three balls before being hit by a pitch. Cormier stole second with Connor, who began the game at shortstop, at the plate and after Connor popped out to second, Cormier stole third and came in to score when Brian Connolly helped himself with a sharp double down the leftfield line. Clark then singled through the hole and Connolly scored for a quick 2-0 lead. After Clark stole second, junior catcher Kevin Connolly lined out to left, but Giancotti came through with a two-out single through the hole and Clark came home with the third run.

“It was important to get the bats hot from the start,” Clark said. “It set the tone for the game and we rode that energy the whole way through.”

After Giancotti stole second, junior rightfielder Richard Tremble struck out swinging, but the damage was done.

In the bottom half, Deering looked to answer as senior shortstop Matt Keast beat out an infield single to third and after senior leftfielder Noah Cantor watched strike three, Keast stole second. He wouldn’t advance, however, as Brady lined out to Connor at short and after sophomore designated hitter Ethan Berkowitz reached on catcher’s interference, Coleman chased a high pitch and struck out to end the threat.

“It was great to have that early lead and I just had to hold on to it,” Brian Connolly said. “I had command of my fastball. My off-speed wasn’t that good today, so my fastball was important.”

In the top of the second, Header led off by driving a 3-1 pitch over the head of Rams freshman centerfielder Avery Lawrence for a triple, but he would be stranded there, as Guibord and Cormier chased strike three and Conner bounced out to short.

Senior first baseman Lucas Harbaugh led off the bottom half by beating out an infield single up the middle. Junior Ethan Corson came on to run and stole second as freshman third baseman Jackson Forrest struck out, but with junior second baseman Drew Hamilton at the plate, Corson took off for third on an apparent wild pitch, decided against it and was eventually thrown out after a rundown. Hamilton then was retired on a slow roller to Connor at shortstop.

Cheverus returned to its run-scoring ways in the top of the third.

After Brian Connolly grounded out to third, Coleman hit Clark on an 0-2 pitch, then threw the ball away trying to pick him off and Clark took second. Clark then took off for third and when that throw got away, Clark came home to score. Kevin Connolly struck out swinging and Giancotti popped out to short to keep the score 4-0.

In the bottom half, with Connor replacing Brian Connolly on the mound, Lawrence grounded out to short (where Connolly had taken over) on a close play, Keast took strike three and Canter struck out swinging.

The Stags tacked on another run in the top of the fourth, as Tremble’s grounder to third resulted in an error, he stole second and third and after Jackson Header popped out to short, Tremble came home on a squeeze bunt off the bat of Guibord. After Cormier singled to right and stole second, Conner popped out to short to end the uprising.

In the bottom half, the Rams tried to rally, but left a couple runners on.

Brady walked on a 3-2 pitch and after Berkowitz struck out swinging, Coleman beat out an infield single to deep short, but Harbaugh watched strike three and Forrest bounced into a short-to-second force out to end the threat.

Cheverus ended any lingering doubt with a six-spot in the top of the fifth inning, with five runs coming after two were out.

Brian Connolly led off with a single to left and he came home when Clark doubled to deep center. Coleman then hit Kevin Connolly with a 3-2 pitch, but he fanned Giancotti swinging and after Clark and Kevin Connolly pulled off a double-steal, Coleman got Tremble to look at strike three.

But the third out took a long time in coming, as after Jackson Header was walked intentionally to load the bases, Guibord lined the first pitch he saw to left to score a pair of runs. After a balk moved the runners up, Cormier lined a single to right to score two more for a 10-0 lead. Cormier then stole second and came home on a single to right off the bat of Connor. Coleman struck out senior pinch-hitter Silas Jones to end it, but the damage was done and the Stags took an 11-0 advantage to the bottom of the fifth.

But Deering wasn’t ready to call it a game quite yet.

Lucier came on to close it out and he got Hamilton to ground out to third, but Lawrence beat out an infield single up the middle and moved to second when the throw got away. Keast followed with a single to put runners at the corners. Keast then stole second and the throw got away to score Lawrence and move Keast to third. Canter grounded back to the mound with Keast holding for the second out, but Brady crushed a double to right-center to score Keast. Berkowitz struck out, but the Rams were still alive, down, 11-2.

Cheverus tacked on one final run in the top of the sixth, as Lawrence took over for Coleman on the hill and after getting Clark to ground out to short, he got Kevin Connolly to ground the ball near first and Connolly reached on an error. Giancotti then walked and after Tremble lined out to left, Header singled to right to score Connolly. On the play, Giancotti tried to score as well, but he was thrown out at home to end the frame with the Stags up by 10.

Lucier then slammed the door in the bottom half, getting Coleman to pop out to third, Harbaugh to line to right and Forrest to chase strike three to close out Cheverus’ 12-2 victory.

“This is the best field in the state, by far,” Brian Connolly said. “The mound is beautiful. Nothing better. I think our pitching has gotten better and our defense and bats are coming alive.”

“We started out a little rough, but we’re working hard in practice and it’s paying off,” Clark said.

“I’m happy with how we played today overall,” added DiBiase. “We have some great athletes who are just beginning to understand how we play the game. One through nine, we have good swings all the way through. That’s a pretty good thing to have.”

The Stags finished with 11 hits, as Clark, Brian Connolly, Cormier and Header all had two.

Clark scored three runs, Brian Connolly, Kevin Connolly and Cormier finished with two apiece and Guibord, Header and Tremble all touched home plate once.

Guibord drove in three runs, Clark and Cormier both had two RBI and Brian Connolly, Connor, Giancotti and Header had one apiece.

On the basepaths, Cormier finished with four steals, Clark had three, Tremble two and Brian Connolly, Kevin Connolly and Giancotti one apiece.

“Coach gave us the green light (to steal) a lot today,” Clark said. “We saw opportunities, put ourselves in scoring position and it paid off.”

The Stags stranded seven baserunners.

On the mound, Brian Connolly went the first two innings, allowing three hits and no runs. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

Connor pitched two hitless, scoreless innings and earned the victory. He walked one and fanned four.

Lucier closed it out by giving up two unearned runs on three hits in his two innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two.

“We got a chance to see some younger pitchers today,” said DiBiase. “We’re trying to develop some pitching depth. Brian is a tremendous shortstop. He’s a freshman and got a chance to start and get his first varsity experience. Matt Connor, who’s a very good third baseman, got to pitch and he’s a young sophomore too. Lucier is a sophomore too and he’s got good stuff. We’ve got to bring those guys along. It worked out really well.”

For Deering, Keast had two hits and a run scored. Lawrence also scored. Brady had an RBI. Corson and Keast stole bases.

The Rams left five runners on.

Coleman took the loss after giving up 11 runs (nine earned) on 10 hits in his five innings. He walked one and struck out seven.

Conner’s huge for us,” Martin said. “He’s our number one guy. He battles. He’s a competitor. He threw strikes today.”

Lawrence gave up one hit and one unearned run in his inning of relief. He walked one batter and didn’t strike anyone out.

“We’re keeping our energy up even though we’ve had a lot of tough games,” said Martin. “We take it one pitch at a time, that’s all we can do. We had a couple guys missing today too, so I’m really proud of these guys. I wish we made some plays, but each game we’re getting better. From game one until now, we’re making a lot of progress. We’re making routine plays more often. We’re hitting cutoff men. We’re putting the ball in play and getting guys on base. It’s all about small victories.”

Season rolls on

Deering will try again to give Martin his first victory Tuesday against Portland at Hadlock Field.

“For us, our goal has been to have fun and to get better every single day and I think we’re 2-for-2 with that,” said Martin. “Guys are having fun and it’s clear we’re definitely improving.”

Cheverus welcomes Windham Saturday and goes to Gorham Tuesday.

“We need to keep the bats hot and work on our approach at the plate and I think we’ll be fine,” Clark said.

“I think we just have to keep hitting and rolling with what we’re doing,” Brian Connolly said.

“We need more consistency with at-bats,” DiBiase added. “We’ve talked about focus and that comes with confidence and experience. The kids are working really hard and they seem to enjoy each other. That means a lot. Cheverus doesn’t have kids who have grown up together with the same Little League or Babe Ruth team, so we’re bonding and understanding each other. Even the seniors are inexperienced this year. Missing a year set us back a bit, but we’re getting better. We’re just looking to peak when we’re supposed to peak at the end of the year.”

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

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