FALMOUTH—The pitcher’s duel lived up to billing, and then some, and in case there was any doubt, there’s very little separating the Scarborough and Falmouth baseball teams atop Class A South.

Thursday afternoon at Croker Memorial Field, Red Storm junior ace Erik Swenson and his counterpart, Navigators senior Brennan Rumpf, who will be teammates at the University of Maine, excelled on the mound, but ultimately, Scarborough, thanks in part to a disputed call, emerged one run better.

The Red Storm jumped in front in the top of the first inning, as senior first baseman Mason Porter was hit by a pitch, took third on a single from senior leftfielder Patrick McCue, then scored on a delayed steal of home.

Falmouth answered in the bottom of the third, on an RBI double from junior shortstop Josh Polchies, but in the top of the fourth, Scarborough seized momentum back.

Porter led off with a single and he stole second, with Navigators coach Mike D’Andrea arguing the safe call to no avail, then Porter scored on an RBI base hit from junior third baseman Matt Fallona.

Swenson did most of the rest of the work, pitching into the seventh inning and striking out the final two hitters he faced before being pulled after reaching the pitch count limit and senior Zak Sanders came on to record the final out to bring the curtain down on a 2-1 victory.


The Red Storm improved to 11-1, moved into the top spot in the Class A South Heal Points standings and in the process, dropped the Navigators to 10-2.

“I knew it would be a great game,” said Swenson. “Falmouth’s a great team and (Brennan’s) a great pitcher. I’m excited to be his teammate at U. Maine. It was just an overall good game and we played fundamentally well.”

Nearly perfect

Falmouth and Scarborough have lived up to billing as preseason favorites in Class A South, passing every test but one heading into play Thursday.

The Navigators blanked visiting Gorham in its opener (4-0), then downed visiting Noble (9-1) before dominating host Westbrook (28-1, in five-innings), blanking host South Portland, the reigning state champion (7-0), beating visiting Bonny Eagle (14-2) and host Cheverus (19-2) in five-innings, blanking visiting Thornton Academy in a playoff rematch (10-0, in six-innings, on a Rumpf no-hitter) and defeating host Massabesic (15-3) and visiting Deering (6-0). Last Friday, in South Berwick, Falmouth’s undefeated run came to an end with a 4-2 loss at Marshwood, but Tuesday, at Hadlock Field, the Navigators bounced back and handled host Portland, 13-1 (in five-innings).

The Red Storm, meanwhile, won their first seven outings: at Noble (12-1, in five-innings), at home over Massabesic (4-3), at Thornton Academy (9-3), at home over Sanford (3-0), Gorham (3-0) and South Portland (5-4) and at Cheverus (10-0, in six-innings). After a shocking 8-7 home loss to Deering, Scarborough bounced back to defeat host Bonny Eagle (3-1), visiting Westbrook (12-3) and visiting Biddeford Tuesday (5-2).


“I’d say we needed a little refresh,” Porter said. “We started the year strong, then we started to cruise. That loss made us take a step back and lock in for the rest of the season.”

“(The Deering game) was just us understanding that you can lose any game,” said Red Storm coach Wes Ridlon. “If you don’t come out ready to play, you’ll lose. We talked about responding to adversity. We’ve responded and we’re playing our best baseball. ”

A year ago, in the season opener, Scarborough beat visiting Falmouth, 6-4.

Thursday, on a cloudy but pleasant 67-degree afternoon, the Red Storm did it again in a down-to-the-wire thriller.

Rumpf started the contest by getting Scarborough senior shortstop Tyler Archambault to ground out to short, then he fanned Sanders, who began the game in rightfield. Rumpf then plunked Porter with a pitch and McCue followed by going the other way and lining a pitch over the head of Navigators junior third baseman Tyler Simmons for a single, sending Porter to third. Rumpf then threw to first and had McCue picked off, but McCue stayed in a rundown long enough for Porter to come home. McCue was eventually tagged out to end the inning, but the Red Storm had a quick 1-0 lead.

Swenson started the bottom half by fanning Rumpf on an off-speed pitch, but senior catcher Ethan Hendry reached on a sharp grounder that ricocheted off Archambault at short. Polchies worked the count full, but Swenson fired strike three past him, then, after Hendry swiped second base, Swenson caught Simmons looking at strike three to end the frame.


While Swenson got out of the inning, he did throw 21 pitches and the looming pitch count limit would be a game-long concern.

Fallona led off the top of the second by bouncing out to short, but junior centerfielder Cam Wellman beat out a bunt single and with sophomore designated hitter Kayson Cyr at the plate, Wellman took second on a wild pitch. Rumpf then caught Cyr looking at strike three before getting freshman catcher Kaiden Carrell to ground out to short for the third out.

In the bottom half, sophomore first baseman Jacoby Porter led off by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Swenson again struck out the side, this time fanning senior centerfielder Tony Severino with some high heat, doing the same to junior second baseman Thomas Healey, then catching junior designated hitter Brandon White looking at strike three with a pretty breaking pitch.

But again, Swenson needed to throw a lot of pitches to get through the inning and his count hit 41.

Rumpf made quick work of the Red Storm in the top of the third, getting sophomore second baseman Finn Coburn to chase strike three, Archambault to ground out to short, where Polchies made a terrific backhand stop and throw to first, then getting Sanders to chase the first pitch and also ground out to Polchies.

The Navigators broke through in their half of the inning.


Sophomore leftfielder Caden Berry couldn’t hold up leading off and struck out, but Rumpf worked the count full and drew a base on balls. Hendry then hit the ball hard the other way, but it was right at Sanders in right for the second out. After a Swenson pitch got away, allowing Rumpf to move to second, Polchies tie the score by going the other way and lining an RBI double to left-center. On Swenson’s 62nd pitch of the game, Simmons popped out foul to first, but the score was now 1-1

But not for long.

Mason Porter led off the top of the fourth and he lined the first pitch he saw to left for a single.

“We expect the leadoff hitter to bring good energy,” said Porter. “I just happened to be in that position. I was ready to swing first-pitch fastball and thankfully, I did get that.”

“Mason’s a leader who has been doing it all year for us,” Ridlon said. “He’s swung the bat really well for us. He’s a four-year starter and a leader.”

With McCue at the plate, he tried to get a bunt down but couldn’t do so and on the play, Porter broke for second. Hendry’s throw was low but was scooped up by Polchies who applied the tag, but Porter was ruled safe with a stolen base.


Suffice it to say D’Andrea took issue with the call.

“It is what it is,” D’Andrea said. “The only way he’s safe is if the tag didn’t happen. The ball beat him and the guy made the play.”

McCue took strike three, but Fallona came up clutch, swinging at the first pitch he saw, grounding the ball up the middle and while Healey lunged for it, it ricocheted off his glove into centerfield, and Porter raced home for the lead.

“We were trying to cook up a run, trying to manufacture a run and put pressure on them,” said Porter. “I’m just trying to wheel around the bases and score. We knew we had to get that run.”

“Timely hitting is what it came down to,” said Ridlon.

Rumpf picked Fallona off first, but Wellman blooped a single to center before Cyr flew out deep to left for the third out.


Falmouth hoped to answer in its half of the fourth, as Jacoby Porter led off with a bouncing single up the middle, but after he was sacrificed to second by Severino, he’d be stranded, as Healey popped out to Archambault, who made a nice play going out to catch the ball, then Swenson fired strike three past White, as his pitch count reached 76.

Rumpf was dominant in the top of the fifth, getting Carrell to ground back to the mound on the first pitch, catching Coburn looking at strike three, then inducing a sharp liner back to the mound off the bat of Archambault.

The Navigators then had a golden opportunity to draw even or even take the lead in the bottom half, when Berry worked the count full and drew a walk leading off. Rumpf flew out to center on the first pitch he saw, but Hendry lined a sharp single through the hole between third and short. Polchies then worked the count full before grounding the ball up the middle where Archambault snagged it, flipped to Coburn for one out, then Coburn threw on to Mason Porter to complete the inning-ending double play.

Swenson’s pitch count was up to 91.

Rumpf continued to get even stronger as the game went on and in the top of the sixth, he caught both Sanders and Mason Porter looking at strike three, then he got McCue to ground out to short.

Swenson knew he had little margin for error in the bottom half and he would throw just 14 pitches to stay eligible. He caught Simmons looking on a 3-2 pitch, got Jacoby Porter to bounce out to second, then Severino hit the ball well to left, but McCue tracked it down to retire the side.


Scarborough hoped for an insurance run in the top of the seventh, but Rumpf closed his effort in style, getting Fallona to fly out deep to center before catching both Wellman and senior pinch-hitter Lewis Moynihan looking at strike three.

In the bottom of the seventh, Swenson struck out Healey looking on four pitches, meaning he could face one final hitter and he closed with a flourish, fanning White.

Sanders then entered the game to close it out and channeling his inner Swenson, Sanders blew a 2-2 pitch past Berry to end it and the Red Storm were able to celebrate a 2-1 victory.

“Overall, I’m just happy with the outcome and how my team performed,” said Swenson. “I was incredibly confident in Zak. I’ve played with him a long time and there was no doubt in my mind he’d get that out. I was excited to see him go out and finish it.”

“It was a great game between two great teams,” Ridlon said. “It was fundamental baseball at its finest. It’s what we both try to teach and the kids executed it and it was pretty cool to watch. You have to tip your cap to both pitchers. It was fun. It was tense.

“We expect to win every game. That’s the mentality we have. We know we were going up a well-coached baseball team and you can’t make any mistakes and today, we didn’t.”


Swenson stole the show, giving up just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings. He walked three, but struck out a dozen.

“I was just excited,” Swenson said. “I felt good. I felt my fastball was lively. I felt like I was locating my pitches correctly. The only pitch I didn’t really have today was my curveball and if I had that, I might have been able to go a little further. The adrenaline was pumping and I was feeling good down the stretch. I just tried to throw strikes and locate the pitches I needed to locate.”

“I was very confident Erik would hold it,” said Porter. “I’ve seen him pitch so many great games during my time at Scarborough.”

“(Erik’s) come a long way from where he was last year and he’s gotten progressively better each start this year,” added Ridlon. “He just threw strikes. He focused more on first-pitch strikes. He walked the leadoff guy a couple times, but other than that, I can’t complain with how he competed. He was fun to watch. He’s a competitor. We trust him in big situations. He wants the baseball in those situations. That’s a good mentality to have.”

Sanders struck out the only hitter he faced to earn the save.

“Zak didn’t come into an easy situation, but he focused and threw strikes,” Ridlon said.


Offensively, the Red Storm got two hits from Wells, two runs from Porter (who also stole two bases) and a timely RBI from Fallona.

Scarborough stranded just two runners.

Falmouth got two hits from Hendry, a run scored from Rumpf and an RBI from Polchies, but that was it for its offense.

The Navigators left five runners on base.

Rumpf was the hard-luck loser, surrendering two runs on five hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned nine, throwing just 86 pitches.

“That game was played the way it should be played,” D’Andrea said. “It was 2-1, their pitcher did a good job and our pitcher did a good job. They were both great. Two of the best pitchers in the league left it all on the field. I was very impressed with Swenson. He threw well and had a good presence on the mound. Obviously, they’re well-coached over there. We knew were in for a dogfight today. We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. At the end of the day, they just got one more across. I rarely ever talk about a call, but the reality is if that’s the right call (in the fourth inning), we’re still playing. It doesn’t mean we win, but we’re still playing.


“I’m not sure the best team won today. When we lost at Marshwood, I said that they were the better team. Today, I don’t walk away saying (the Red Storm) were better. We will see them again and most likely it will be a similar game. They’re strong at every position and they’re well-coached and if see them again, it’s going to be a tough game.”

Down the stretch

Falmouth (currently ranked second in the Class A South Heal Points standings) stays home to battle an unheralded and strong Sanford squad Saturday before visiting Kennebunk Tuesday of next week.

“I told the team today, number one, I’m proud of them because we competed pretty well, and number two, we’re still in a position to take one of the top four spots,” said D’Andrea. “We just have to win some games. The top four is where you need to be.”

Scarborough (first in the region) goes to Marshwood, its recent playoff nemesis, for a tough test Saturday, then returns home Tuesday of next week to face Windham.

“This boosts the momentum of our team and if we continue to play our brand of baseball, we’ll continue to roll,” Swenson said.

“We just need to play fundamental baseball,” said Porter. “Make sure we hit our spots pitching and make sure we swing the bats. The biggest thing for us is keeping our energy up. If we do that, we can definitely make a good run this year.”

“We beat (Marshwood) the past two years in the regular season and they beat us twice in the playoffs, so maybe we’ll switch it around this year,” Ridlon added. “We have to keep playing the way we played today. We just have to play the way we want to play from a Scarborough baseball perspective.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

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