Falmouth’s Brennan Rumpf is the No. 1 pitcher for a team that has allowed only nine runs through its first eight games. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

SOUTH PORTLAND — For the past three seasons, Thornton Academy baseball player Jeremiah Chessie didn’t have to look far for a senior teammate to lean on or ask for help.

This season, the roles have been reversed. Chessie, a senior shortstop/pitcher and four-year varsity player, and oufielder Joshua Penney were the only two seniors in the Golden Trojans’ starting lineup that included three freshmen and two sophomores during a 5-1 win Tuesday at South Portland that improved Thornton’s record to 4-3.

South Portland (4-5), another team in a transition season, is the defending Class A champion and also won the state title in 2021. Thornton was the 2022 state champion. The two schools met in the regional final the past three seasons.

“The last three years, we’ve been a really old team. My freshman and sophomore years, I was the only underclassmen,” Chessie said. “It’s been rough with this many younger players, especially having tough competition right away.”

Thornton lost to Scarborough (7-1), Falmouth (8-0) and Gorham (4-4) – the top three teams in the Class A South Heal Point standings – in its first five games.

“Now they’re feeling so much more confidence,” said Chessie, who came on in relief against South Portland with two on and nobody out in the seventh and did not allow a run.


Thornton catcher Brayden Duane is a sophomore. He started at the end of his freshman season and had two hits in last year’s regional final, a 4-2 South Portland win. Even with that experience, Duane said he could feel the nerves early this season.

“That’s just part of how it is with young guys. Those first few games, you’re nervous,” Duane said. “Now we’re more confident. We’re not making those silly mistakes.”

Thornton Coach Jason Lariviere said he’s seeing the positive effect of more game reps showing up in the at-bats of his freshmen starters – Noah Fullerton, Colton Cross and Brennan Tabor, who batted first, eighth and ninth against South Portland. Each had a hit. Cross drove in a run with his second-inning single and later scored. Tabor beat out an infield single, then moved around the bases thanks to alert reactions on pitches that skidded away from catcher Cam Barrett.

South Portland used only one senior on Tuesday – left fielder and cleanup hitter Curtis Metcalf. Metcalf, junior shortstop Easton Healy, and sophomore Hudson Iacuessa are the only Red Riots who saw significant playoff action in 2023.

The team’s youth showed Tuesday with some shoddy defense and a lack of pop in its bats. All nine of the Red Riots’ hits were singles, and they were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

“I think we had 12, 13 base runners,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game where we had that many base runners and scored only one run.”


Owens added, “We’re young, but it’s getting to the part of the season where you can’t use that as an excuse anymore.”

FALMOUTH LOOKS more than ready to reach a regional final. Coach Mike D’Andrea’s club entered the season as the Class A South favorite and has done nothing to change that narrative. The Navigators are 8-0 and have outscored opponents 105-9. Their closest game was a season-opening 4-0 win against Gorham. No team had scored more than two runs against Falmouth until a 15-3 win Tuesday against Massabesic.

“We’re hitting the baseball, that’s for sure,” D’Andrea said. “Right now, (shortstop) Josh Polchies has a really hot bat and he’s coming up with big hits, too. The one added feature this year to our offense is power. We’re hitting more doubles than I can ever remember.”

Falmouth had five doubles and a triple to support Brennan Rumpf – who had the triple – against the Mustangs, who trailed 2-1 through four innings before Falmouth scored seven runs in the fifth.

Rumpf is the ace of the pitching staff. South Portland’s Owens raved about his sharp slider. Jacoby Porter and Nick Wyse are taking regular turns in the rotation to lessen the load on Rumpf, with Tyler Simmons and catcher Ethan Hendry working in relief.

Falmouth could get a strong test Friday at Marshwood, which is 8-1 and ranked fourth in the Heal standings.


“They’ve positioned themselves to be one of the top teams in the league, so sure, it’s a big game for us,” D’Andrea said.

SCARBOROUGH WAS UPSET by Deering on Tuesday, the Red Storm’s first loss of the season. Deering scored seven runs in the first inning, then Scarborough fought back to tie the game before the Rams won it, 8-7, with a sacrifice fly by Gus Groh in the top of the seventh and a 1-2-3 save in the bottom of the inning from Tavian Lauture. It was Deering’s second victory, after going winless in 2023.

Despite the setback, Scarborough (7-1) has impressed, particularly its pitching staff led by Erik Swenson. The Red Storm had allowed 11 runs through seven games, with three shutouts. In a 9-3 win at Thornton Academy, Swenson struck out 12 and allowed one earned run.

“I had the gun on him and he was throwing 84-85 miles an hour and it was cold that day,” Lariviere said. “You have to figure on a warm day, his fastball is sitting 86 to 88.”

ANOTHER HARD THROWER, Drew Sliwkowski of Kennebunk, had quite a day in a 1-0 win on May 2 against Biddeford. According to Biddeford Coach Keith Leblanc, both Sliwkowski and Tigers senior pitcher Gino Mariello threw one-hitters. “Their one hit was a home run. By Sliwkowski,” Leblanc said.

FOR BIDDEFORD, the loss to Kennebunk (6-1) was one of three straight one-run setbacks, the others against Sanford (5-2) and Massabesic (4-5). Then they were no-hit by Windham’s Brody Harvie. But the Tigers are 4-4 after a 13-1 thumping of Westbrook on Tuesday and are one of eight Class A South teams with a record of .500 or better, and one of 10 with at least four wins.

“We’ve pitched well,” Leblanc said, noting that Mariello is a “consistent strike-throwing guy,” and that junior Gavin Haggett has nearly 40 strikeouts.

“It seems like there’s going to be a ton of 9-7, 8-8, 7-9 teams,” Leblanc said. “There’s no team, besides Falmouth, really, that stands out. And that’s because of Falmouth’s scoring. There’s been a lot of close games between a lot of close teams.”

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