SOUTH BERWICK — Both schools are located in the same southern Maine town, but don’t call Marshwood High and Berwick Academy rivals.

Usually, their athletic paths never intersect at the high school level. Except this year. In the (hopefully) waning days of the coronavirus pandemic. Berwick Academy, a private day school that usually plays a schedule full of out-of-state prep school opponents, requested and was welcomed as a one-year participant in Maine’s public school ranks.

So the neighbors have finally gotten to know each other, especially the two similar baseball teams with youthful, mostly inexperienced lineups that have to scratch out runs.

Playing for the third time in a month, host Marshwood (10-5) beat the Bulldogs for a third time, 6-3 on Thursday behind strong pitching. Starter Andrew Gray, a junior right-hander, struck out six, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits over six innings. Reed Smaracko pitched a scoreless seventh.

“Team vs. team, I think there’s a lot of respect between us,” Gray said. But a rivalry? “Not really. No.”

In the first meeting, Marshwood won easily, 15-0. The middle game, played at Berwick Academy, was a 6-5 Marshwood win. Berwick, which had won its previous two games against Massabesic and Sanford, is 4-9.

“I think this is awesome. They force us to compete,” said Berwick senior Spencer Aubin from nearby Dover, New Hampshire. “They’re a good team. They play baseball the right way and it makes us have to do the same.”

Marshwood and the other public schools in York County are playing a county-based schedule that includes games against Class B York and Wells, along with Class C Traip and Berwick.

“You play who you play. You’re given a schedule and our goal is to get better every day anyway, so it really doesn’t matter who we play,” said Marshwood Coach Eric Wells.

With the game tied, Marshwood scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Gray started the rally with his first career hit, a single to left. No. 9 hitter Jackson Pollaro walked and D.J. Cagnina reached first on a bunt without an out being recorded, loading the bases.

Freshman center fielder Noah Fitzgerald came through with a ground single against a drawn-in infield for the go-ahead run. Fitzgerald was 3 for 3 with three RBI. He had a similar opposite-field single to break a 2-2 tie in the fourth.

“I’m just thinking put the ball in play, hopefully put a good swing on it, score a run, do a job,” Fitzgerald said.

Henry Dimmerling’s bases-loaded walk and Smaracko’s grounder to second drove in the other runs.

“When you have two teams like us that are young and inexperienced, you do whatever you can to score,” Wells said. “Our guys have bought in to doing the small-ball stuff. And no matter who you’re playing, you get used to being in close games and that’s kind of what we’re striving for, to be comfortable in close games and then see what we can do in the playoffs against some of the bigger teams.”

Aubin and Tyler Shelgren each had two hits for Berwick. Berwick starter Zachary Hawrylciw, a fast-working freshman who had been roughed up in the teams’ first meeting, struck out eight and stranded seven runners in five innings.

“I think it’s been a great preparation year for us,” Hawrylciw said


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