PORTLAND—Forget about just being resurgent.

Deering’s baseball team is simply magical this spring.

The Rams, who didn’t win a single game in 2023, just hoped to return to respectability this spring under new coach Casey Lawrence, but they have instead become sprinkled with stardust and the latest chapter was the most improbable of all.

Deering, hosting Kennebunk Saturday at Hadlock Field, dug a nine-run deficit, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the win column.

And for a program which is as storied as any in the state, with numerous come-from-behind victories to its credit over the decades, this might have been the most unthinkable of them all.

Kennebunk scored three runs with out the benefit of a hit in the top of the third, taking advantage of three walks, an error, a wild pitch and a hit batter against Deering junior starting pitcher Tavian Lauture.

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Kennebunk tacked on three more runs in the third, highlighted by a two-run double from senior leftfielder Anthony Burnham, and seemingly put it away with another three-spot in the fifth, as all three runs were unearned.

But Deering showed some life in the bottom half, pushing across four runs, as freshman catcher Miles Lawrence and sophomore leftfielder Zeke Dewever each had two-run hits.

Deering then made things most interesting by adding four more runs in the sixth, setting the stage for a fabulous finish.

With two outs and no one on in the bottom of the seventh, a walk, a single and an RBI single from senior first baseman Jackson Forrest tied the score.

The game then, fittingly, came down to senior Andrew Cook, who started the contest in centerfield before coming in to throw five critical innings of relief, and Cook played the hero, lining his fourth hit of the day, a single up the middle, to score freshman Miles Lawrence to produce a 10-9 victory.

Deering, which also handed Scarborough its first and only loss a little over a week ago, improved to 5-8 with its third win in four games and its fourth in sixth, and in the process, dropped Kennebunk to 8-5.

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“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Casey Lawrence. “The guys never give up. They keep fighting. The guys have bought into the fact that they’re never out of a game and if they keep grinding, good things will happen.”

Never over until it’s over

Deering and Kennebunk both find themselves in the playoff mix this spring.

After opening with losses at Biddeford (9-4), at Thornton Academy (6-3) and at home to Sanford (17-4, in six-innings), Deering snapped a three-year, 24-game skid with a 4-3 victory at Windham. Deering then lost at home to Marshwood (10-0), at Noble (6-4) and at Massabesic (10-2) before earning its biggest victory in years, shocking host Scarborough, which entered the game undefeated, 8-7. The Rams then lost at Falmouth (6-0) before beating rival Portland, 1-0, in a game played at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. After falling at home to Gorham (12-6), Deering beat visiting Bonny Eagle Thursday, 3-1.

Kennebunk, meanwhile, has been streaky this spring.

The Rams lost their opener (5-4 to Gorham), then rattled off seven consecutive victories, beating Portland (11-0, in five-innings), Bonny Eagle (12-8), reigning Class A champion South Portland (9-1), Biddeford (1-0), Westbrook (10-7), Cheverus (5-4) and Windham (4-0). Kennebunk then lost to Massabesic (4-0), Thornton Academy (9-1) and Sanford (1-0). Thursday, the Rams seemingly got back on track with a 2-0 win over Marshwood.

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Last year, Kennebunk beat visiting Deering, 9-0.

Saturday, on a cloudy, drizzly, 57-degree day, the York County Rams were poised to do it again, but instead, Deering beat Kennebunk for the first time since May 7, 2018 (5-2 on the road).

In a manner that no one on hand will ever forget.

Deering starting pitcher Tavian Lauture delivers to Kennebunk’s Joe DiGiovanni to start Saturday’s contest at Hadlock Field. Deering rallied for a dramatic 10-9 victory. Hoffer photos.

Kennebunk got out to a fast start, as sophomore first baseman Joe DiGiovanni reached on an error at third, then senior centerfielder Drew Sliwkowski and junior shortstop Max Andrews drew bases on balls. That brought up junior pitcher Isaac Jensen, who helped his cause by drawing a walk as well, scoring DiGiovanni to put the visitors in front. Lauture fanned senior second baseman George Lazos, but with senior leftfielder Andrew Burnham at the plate, Lauture threw a wild pitch, scoring Sliwkowki and moving the other runners up.

Kennebunk’s Drew Sliwkowski comes home on a wild pitch for the Rams’ second run.

Lauture then hit Burnham with a pitch to reload the bases. Sophomore third baseman Django Tachibana popped to short center and sophomore second baseman Zade Smith went out and made the catch, but Andrews alertly tagged up and raced home to score. Lauture caught sophomore rightfielder Austin West looking at strike three, but the damage was done and Kennebunk had a 3-0 advantage.

Andrews made quick work of Deering in the bottom half, getting senior pitcher Avery Lawrence to ground out to second, Lauture to bounce out to third, where Tachibana came in and made a nice scoop and throw on the run, and Miles Lawrence, who began the game behind the plate, to ground out to short.

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Lauture started the top of the second by catching junior catcher Brady Stone looking at strike three and getting DiGiovanni to pop to second, but he walked Sliwkowski and with Andrews at the plate, Sliwkowski stole second and third. After fouling off multiple pitches, Andrews drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. With Jensen at the plate, Andrews took off for second, Lauture looked his way, then Sliwkowski took off for home, but Lauture threw him out to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Forrest led off by reaching on an infield hit, a slow roller between third and short. Cook, who began the game in centerfield, popped out foul to first, then Jensen blew strike three past sophomore leftfielder Zeke Dewever before getting junior third baseman Alex Jordan to watch strike three for the third out.

Kennebunk got back to its scoring ways in the top of the third.

Jensen walked on four pitches, then Lazos hit a possible double play grounder to Avery Lawrence at short, but his throw to Smith at second was dropped for an error, putting runners at the corners. Lazos immediately stole second, then Burnham lined a shot down the leftfield line for a two-run double, making the score 5-0 and bringing an end to Lauture’s time on the mound.

Cook came on to pitch to face Tachibana and after Burnham stole third, Tachibana grounded out to second to score the sixth run. Cook then got West to pop to short, but Stone lined a single up the middle. DiGiovanni then gave the ball a ride to deep left, but Dewever made the catch to end the frame.

In the bottom half, Jensen gave way to Tachibana, who walked Smith on a 3-2 pitch leading off. Freshman centerfielder Gus Groh, who began the game in right, then struck out looking and Avery Lawrence flew out to right. Freshman second baseman Yadier Lorda-Flores, who had replaced Lauture, drew a walk, but Miles Lawrence’s bouncer to the right of the mound was snared by Tachibana, who threw to third for the force to end the inning.

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Cook began the top of the fourth by catching Sliwkowski looking at strike three on an off-speed pitch. Andrews followed by grounding out to second, but Jensen singled up the middle on the first pitch he saw and Lazos ripped a single to left. That set the stage for Burnham, but he watched strike three to keep the score 6-0.

Tachibana preserved the lead in the bottom half, working out of a jam to do so.

He walked Forrest leading off on a 3-2 pitch, then Cook lined a single to right on the first pitch he saw, but Tachibana fanned Dewever, got Jordan to swing and miss on a 3-2 pitch, then Smith watched strike three.

Kennebunk added to its lead in the top of the fifth.

Tachibana led off by singling to right on the first pitch. He moved to second on a balk and after West popped out to second, with Stone at the plate, Tachibana stole third. Stone then grounded toward the hole between first and second where Lorda-Flores made a nice diving stop, but his throw to first was wide and Tachibana came home on the play. After Stone stole second, he moved to third when DiGiovanni grounded out to short. Junior Maddox Rawls pinch-hit and drew a walk on four pitches and after he stole second, Andrews lined the ball to center, but it was dropped and two more runs came across. Cook ended the frame by fanning senior pinch-hitter Laird O’Brien.

Deering then roared to life in the bottom half to make things interesting.

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Groh got things started by walking on four pitches. Tachibana then walked Avery Lawrence on a 3-1 pitch, then walked Lorda-Flores as well to load the bases.

That was it for Tachibana’s outing, as Lazos came on to pitch.

Miles Lawrence greeted Lazos with a single down the leftfield line, scoring Groh and Avery Lawrence and putting runners at first and second. Lazos caught Forrest looking at strike three, but Cook singled to right to load the bases.

Deering senior Andrew Cook lines a base hit.

That brought up Dewever, who hit a deep fly ball to left that got over the head of junior Sam Haley and Lorda-Flores and Miles Lawrence both scored on the deep single. The Rams could have really put pressure on Kennebunk, but Lazos bore down and fanned Jordan and freshman catcher John Bechard, who couldn’t hold up on strike three, keeping the score 9-4.

Kennebunk stranded two runners in the top of the sixth.

Lazos led off with a single to right-center. Haley then popped out foul to Bechard behind the plate. Tachibana lined to right, but junior rightfielder Anthony D’Elia reached when his grounder got through Jordan for an error, allowing Lazos to take third and on a bad throw, D’Elia moved to second. Stone then bid for a hit when he grounded the ball into the hole, but Miles Lawrence, who had moved over in the fifth inning, made a nice sliding backhanded stab, then threw across the diamond just in time to record the highlight-reel third out.

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Deering continued to chip away in the bottom half against new pitcher, junior Ryan Clark, batting around again.

Groh led off with a walk on a 3-2 pitch and after he stole second, Avery Lawrence walked as well. Lorda-Flores was next and he lined a single down the leftfield line to load the bases. Miles Lawrence then worked the count full and was hit by a pitch, scoring Groh and reloading the bases.

Clark then dug in, fanning Forrest, but Cook came through with an RBI single to right-center and Dewever followed with an RBI single into the hole. Jordan grounded into a short-to-second force out to make it 9-8 and Jordan stole second to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but Bechard’s grounder up the middle was snared by Clark, who threw to first to retire the side and preserve the lead.

Kennebunk couldn’t add a critical insurance run in the top of the seventh.

Clark led off with a grounder up the middle, but Miles Lawrence made another terrific play, stabbing the ball, then throwing him out.

“Shortstop’s (Miles’) natural position,” Casey Lawrence said. “He plays catcher for us because he’s an all-around athlete. He has great knowledge of the game.”

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Sliwkowski re-entered and walked on a 3-2 pitch, then stole second. Andrews hit the ball sharply, but on the ground right at first for the second out, with Sliwkowski taking third. Jensen then lined sharply to center, but Avery Lawrence made the catch to give Deering a chance to win it in the bottom half.

Groh led off with a single to left-center and it appeared the miracle rally might come to fruition, then Avery Lawrence lined out to second and Groh was doubled off at first and suddenly, Deering was down to its final out.

But Lorda-Flores kept hope alive by drawing a four-pitch walk and Miles Lawrence, after falling behind 0-2, then working the count even, lined a single to right-center, putting the tying run in scoring position. Junior Dash Newhall came on to run for Lorda-Flores and he dashed home with the tying run on a single to left off the bat of Forrest.

A wild pitch then moved Lawrence to third and Cook did the rest, taking three balls, half-swinging for a strike, then at 1:26 p.m., he grounded the ball up the middle into centerfield and Miles Lawrence came home to win it, 10-9, setting off a wild celebration.

Deering’s Andrew Cook is chased by his teammates during the postgame celebration.

“I had three hits on the day and I knew I had the odds in my favor,” said Cook, who transferred into the Deering program from Portland High. “I was going to poke my bat out there and look for a strike to hit hard and that’s what I did. I was just hoping the ball would get under the shortstop’s glove. I almost got trampled out there, but it was fun.

“It’s a lot of heart. We felt lazy in the early innings, but we came on and persevered. We strung some hits together and we came around. It was a team effort. We got four (runs in the fifth), then we got four again and I knew it would happen.”

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“(Andrew’s) been hitting the ball really hard and it’s always been at somebody,” Casey Lawrence said. “He tells me every day he’s going to get a hit. He did it today.

“We knew they had played five games in seven days, so we knew they’d be short on pitching. We knew if we could get deep in the game and see a lot of pitches, anything could happen.”

Cook wound up with four hits and two RBI on the offensive side and he pitched the final five innings in relief, allowing three unearned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out three and also committed a balk.

“They hit the ball hard and I’ll give them that, but we made some great plays and we made it happen,” Cook said.

“Tavian didn’t have his best stuff today and we could tell he was a little sore, so we had to pull him earlier than expected and we thought we’d have to piece it together after that, but Andy threw a heck of a game,” said Casey Lawrence. “I hadn’t seen him play very much since he transferred from Portland. We had him pitch a little bit and today, we needed him to come through and eat innings and help us out and he did more than that.”

Dewever, Forrest and Miles Lawrence all had multiple hits.

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Miles Lawrence scored three runs, while Groh, Avery Lawrence and Lorda-Flores touched home twice apiece and Newhall scored a critical run as well.

Dewever and Miles Lawrence had three RBI apiece, while Forrest and Jordan finished with one.

The Rams left 11 runners on base.

Lauture wound up with a no-decision, surrendering six runs (three earned) on just one hit in two-plus innings. He walked six, fanned three and hit a batter.

Kennebunk’s offense was paced by Lazos, who had two hits.

Andrews, Burnham, DiGiovanni, Jensen, Lazos, Rawls, Sliwkowski, Stone and Tachibana scored one run apiece.

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Burnham and Tachibana both had two RBI and Jensen also drove in a run.

The Rams stole nine bases, but left 10 runners on.

Jensen got the start and didn’t get a decision, as he pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.

Tachibana gave up three runs on a hit and six walks in two-plus innings. He fanned four.

Lazos pitched one inning, giving up a run on three hits with three Ks.

Clark took the loss, surrendering five runs on seven hits in 1.2 innings. He walked three, struck out one and hit a batter.

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Postseason aspirations

Kennebunk (currently ranked eighth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) comes home for a pivotal showdown versus Falmouth Tuesday. The Rams then go to Scarborough next Thursday, before closing the regular season Saturday of next week at Noble.

Deering (which is 10th in Class A South, where 11 teams qualify for the postseason) is idle until Thursday, when it welcomes South Portland. The Rams go to Cheverus next Saturday, then close at home versus Westbrook May 28.

“We didn’t win a game last year and now we’re the only team to beat Scarborough and Kennebunk’s a solid team and we beat them too,” Cook said. “We’re going to make playoffs. It’s a joy to play. It’s a privilege. We’re having fun. It’s an awesome time.”

“It’s very gratifying,” Casey Lawrence said. “I wanted the seniors to be part of the process. To build a program back up is something to be proud of. We have a couple games left and hopefully that will propel us into the playoffs. It’s been awhile since Deering has been in the playoffs when you don’t count the years that everybody made it, so we’re excited.”

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

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