OLD ORCHARD BEACH — There are times when a team needs to hear a motivational speech from its coach.

And when that coach is Mike D’Andrea, one of the most accomplished coaches in Maine high school baseball history, the motivational speech usually does the trick.

Friday afternoon at The Ballpark, top-ranked Falmouth trailed eighth-seeded Cheverus 2-0 heading to the bottom of the third of their Class A South quarterfinal. D’Andrea spoke his mind in a dugout meeting, and not surprisingly, the Navigators responded with four runs to take the lead for good in a hard-fought 6-3 victory.

Falmouth improved to 16-1 with its 16th consecutive win and will host No. 4 Thornton Academy, the reigning state champion, in a semifinal at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“My message was, ‘If you told me we weren’t going to score six or seven runs today, you’re crazy,’” D’Andrea said. “I didn’t want them to get down and think the game was over. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done.”

After poor field conditions pushed the game back a day and moved it from Falmouth to Old Orchard Beach, the Stags (10-8) were able to start ace Matt Connor, who earned the win in the preliminary round Tuesday. Connor held the Navigators at bay for the first two innings.


Cheverus then jumped ahead in the top of the third against Falmouth starter Brennan Rumpf, with one run scoring on a double-play groundout before Lucas Soutuyo doubled home Devin Kelly.

The Navigators answered in the bottom half, with Eli Cowperthwaite getting things started in unorthodox fashion, reaching on catcher’s interference. Three walks, two stolen bases and a hit batter later, Falmouth had a 4-2 lead without producing a single hit in the inning.

“We got back into the dugout and Coach got on us, but it’s all love,” said center fielder Miles Gay, who walked and scored in the inning. “He told us if we wanted to win, we had to put the ball in play.”

The Navigators went up by three in the fourth inning with an error, hit batsman and RBI groundout. The Stags got a run back in the top of the sixth, then with runners at second and third Noah Kennedy-Jensen hit a shot to center that appeared primed to drop and tie the score, but Gay raced in, dove and made the catch for the final out.

“I’m so grateful for that,” said Rumpf (who didn’t allow an earned run in his 6 1/3 innings). “That catch was massive.”

“(Brennan) gave me a big hug when I came in,” added Gay. “I knew that ball couldn’t drop.”

An Ethan Hendry sacrifice fly gave Falmouth an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, then Peyton Mitchell closed the game out in the seventh.

Cheverus had eight hits, but left nine runners on base. Connor allowed just three earned runs, striking out four.

“I thought we had some really good at-bats against a quality pitcher,” said Stags Coach Tony DiBiase. “Matt Connor pitched great on two days rest. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he showed a lot of guts.”

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