SOUTH PORTLAND — Fans of Class A South baseball should get ready for tense, low-scoring games in the fast-approaching playoffs. The players and coaches are already prepared, as evidenced by top-rated Scarborough’s 1-0 win over South Portland (10-4) on Tuesday.

It was the second time this season the Red Storm (14-1) have beaten South Portland by a run behind starting pitcher Joe Townsend. The first time it took 11 innings. This time Townsend, a first-year varsity pitcher, got the win, striking out seven, allowing three hits and only five base runners by working ahead in the count with sharp breaking balls enhancing his well-placed fastballs.

“I mean it feels pretty good to go out here, especially in my senior year, and pitch against these amazing teams,” Townsend said.

Scarborough is 4-1 in one-run games and has allowed 33 runs overall this season. South Portland has given up only 24 runs in its 14 games and has six shutouts among its 10 wins.

So get ready for nail-biters.

“We were just talking about that with the team,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “The last six or seven years I mean that’s the way the playoffs are. It’s a 2-1 game, a 3-2 game, a walk and an error and a bloop.”

South Portland starter Andrew Heffernan, a sophomore right-hander, also pitched well. Scarborough’s six hits included two bloop singles and a bunt. Heffernan struck out seven and worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth inning.

“It just gives me more confidence. When runners get on base, just have more confidence to throw strikes, throw my off-speed pitches, and trust my defense,” Heffernan said.

TJ Liponis – a starter on Scarborough’s 2019 state championship team – robbed Heffernan of a tying single in the fourth inning. With Richard Gilboy on third after a long, two-out triple to right, Heffernan grounded sharply up the middle. Liponis got to the ball quickly, gobbled it up with both hands and made a strong, accurate throw for the out at first.

“The last time we played them, (Heffernan) came up the middle every one of his at-bats so it was a little bit of anticipation there but it was mostly just a read off the bat and it was a great hop right up to my glove,” Liponis said.

Liponis also started an inning-ending double play in the fifth on a similar ball with runners at first and second.

“We have all the confidence in the world that TJ is one of the best, if not the best, shortstops in the state and he proved it again today. He’s proved it all year long,” said Scarborough assistant coach Matt Rutherford. Head coach Wes Ridlon was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected in the Red Storm’s most recent game.

Scarborough’s run came in the first inning. Junior catcher Nic Frink’s two-out sinking line single to right was nearly caught by Finn O’Connell with an all-out dive. Senior center fielder Peter O’Brien followed with a well-hit RBI double. Frink and O’Brien, like Liponis returning starters from the 2019 title team, both went 2 for 3.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.