SACO — Behind the power pitching of Cody Bowker, two timely hits from the bottom of the order, and a nail-biting-but-successful relief effort from Brady Graffam, Thornton Academy is going where no Golden Trojans baseball team has gone before.

No. 1 Thornton (16-3) edged Falmouth, 3-1, on its hard, dry home field Saturday and will face No. 6 South Portland at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class A South final at St. Joseph’s College. Thornton has never played in a regional final since the Maine Principals’ Association started sanctioning a statewide tournament, though it did play in a Western Maine Class L final in 1954, losing to Stephens High of Rumford.

“I don’t know the history all that well. All I know is these kids are some of the greatest kids I’ve coached,” said Thornton Coach Jason Lariviere.

“We’re not done yet. That’s all I’ve got to say, we’re not done yet,” Bowker said.

No. 5 Falmouth (15-4) scored an unearned run in the seventh and had the bases loaded, without a hit, when relief pitcher Brady Graffam struck out Bennett Smith to end the game.

“All I was trying to do was just bear down and get it over the plate. Trust my defense. They’ll make plays,” Graffam said.

“We were one pitch away from not only tying it, but a ball in the gap, we score three because we had speed on the bases,” Falmouth Coach Mike D’Andrea said.

Bowker, a junior who has verbally committed to Georgetown, allowed three hits and struck out 12. He did hit three batters and walked one. Bowker reached the one-game maximum of 110 pitches en route to the third out in the sixth inning.

All of Thornton’s runs were unearned against Smith, who went five-plus innings, allowing seven hits.

In the second inning, Chris Shaffer drew a one-out walk and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw. With two outs, No. 8 hitter Jeremiah Chessie lashed a single to left, driving in Shaffer.

Shaffer started trouble again in the fourth, reaching second when his grounder to third was thrown away. With two outs, designated hitter Pavel Tarpy, who was called up to the varsity for the playoffs and batted eighth, rapped an RBI single to left. No. 9 hitter Jack Cote then drove a ball to the right-center gap. Center fielder Sam Kidder covered significant ground and was in position but had the ball pop out of his glove, and Tarpy scored from first.


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