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Scarborough bats remain potent in win over South Portland

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 10 South Portland 6

SP- 110 120 1- 6 13 3
S- 000 280 x- 10 12 1

Top 1st
Connor singled to center, Connors scored.

Top 2nd
Connors singled to left, Whitten scored.

Top 4th
Whitten singled to right-center, DiMauro scored.


Bottom 4th

Pizzella singled to right, Kemper scored. Giguere flew out to center, Roy scored.

Top 5th
Jamieson doubled to right-center, Nickerson scored. Whitten singled to center, Jamieson scored.

Bottom 5th
Swett singled to left, Gendreau scored. Foley flew out to center, Crosby scored. Pizzella singled to center, Verreault and Swett scored. Giguere doubled to right-center, Roy and Scoville scored. Gendreau singled to center, Giguere scored. Gendreau scored on error.

Top 7th
Micucci singled to right, Whitten scored.

Multiple hits:
SP- Whitten 4, Connors 3, Micucci
S- Crosby, Pizzella, Roy, Swett

Runs:
SP- Whitten 2, Connors, DiMauro, Jamieson, Nickerson
S- Gendreau, Roy 2, Crosby, Giguere, Kemper, Scoville, Swett, Verreault

RBI:
SP- Whitten 2, Connor, Connors, Jamieson, Micucci
S- Giguere, Pizzella 3, Foley, Gendreau, Swett

Doubles:
SP- Connors, DiMauro, Jamieson, Whitten
S- Giguere

Stolen base:
SP- Nickerson

Left on base:
SP- 9
S- 5

Micucci and Connor; Pizzella, Giguere (4) and Foley.

SP:
Micucci (L) 6 IP 12 H 10 R 7 ER 1 BB 3 K

S:
* Pizzella 3+ IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 1 BB 3 K
Giguere (W) 4 IP 7 H 3 R 1 ER 0 BB 1 K

*  Pizzella faced two batters in the fourth.

Time: 1:57

SCARBOROUGH—Longtime Scarborough softball coach Tom Griffin wants this year’s Red Storm to create their own legacy.

That legacy is becoming clear.

That no deficit is too steep to overcome.

Wednesday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex, Scarborough hosted longtime rival South Portland and dug an early hole, but thanks to one overwhelmingly dominant inning, the Red Storm wound up doing what they almost always do.

Winning.

The Red Riots came to hit and that was clear in the top of the first inning when senior shortstop Julia Connors led off with a single and with two outs, junior catcher Elise Connor singled her home.

With junior ace Mia Micucci holding Scarborough at bay early, South Portland doubled its lead in the top of the second when Connors’ two-out single scored sophomore first baseman Delaney Whitten.

The Red Riots made it 3-0 in the fourth, as freshman third baseman Andrea DiMauro led off with a double and Whitten singled her home, ending the day for Red Storm sophomore pitcher Angelina Pizzella.

Scarborough’s bats then came alive in the bottom half, as Pizzella hit an RBI single and senior Jenna Giguere, who began the game as the designated player before replacing Pizzella on the mound, hit a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 3-2.

South Portland retook a three-run lead in the top of the fifth, as junior Maddie Jamieson hit an RBI double and Whitten added an RBI single to make it 5-2, but the Red Storm had the Red Riots just where they wanted them.

An error leading off the bottom half opened the floodgates and Scarborough sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring a whopping eight runs to turn the game upside down. Junior centerfielder A.J. Swett hit an RBI single, senior catcher Sylvia Foley added a sacrifice fly and Pizzella delivered the biggest blow, a two-run, go-ahead single. Giguere added a two-run double, junior leftfielder Calynn Gendreau hit an RBI single and the third error of the inning capped the uprising.

To its credit, South Portland fought to the end and even with two outs and none on in the seventh, it managed to score one final run, as Whitten doubled and Micucci singled her home, but Giguere was able to get the final out and the Red Storm prevailed, 10-6.

Scarborough got hits from eight different players, runs from eight and RBI from five as its balance and pop at the plate were too much to overcome as the Red Storm improved to 9-1 and dropped the Red Riots to 6-4 in the process.

“I was so impressed with my kids today,” Griffin said. “We’ve done this a couple times now. We’ve gotten great production from the bottom of the lineup and that makes us more dangerous. The kids have a lot of confidence and we’re very aggressive at the plate. We know we have to hit the ball to win games, so we’re not shy to swing (the bats).”

Bombs away

There’s always intrigue when Scarborough and South Portland match up. It’s been that way since the teams started playing countable games in 2003.

The Red Riots are one of the few teams in Class A South to enjoy a modicum of success against the dynastic Red Storm, thrice upsetting them in the regional final (in 2005, 2010 and 2012).

This spring, both teams have their sights set on winding up atop the heap and each has shown glimpses of greatness.

South Portland opened with an impressive 10-3 win at Portland, then fell, 3-1, at Windham. After holding off visiting Cheverus, 5-3, the Red Riots lost, 11-8, at Gorham. The win-one, lose-one trend continued with a 5-4 victory over visiting Thornton Academy in the opener of a doubleheader, followed by a 15-6 setback in the nightcap. South Portland then won three in a row: 25-7 (in five-innings) over visiting Deering and 16-6 and 11-3 in a home doubleheader over Bonny Eagle.

Scarborough, meanwhile, opened by dominating host Deering in the opener, 20-0 (in five-innings), then downing visiting Portland, 5-1, rolling past visiting Gorham (10-2), and beating host Westbrook (14-2), Falmouth (15-0, in five-innings) and Cheverus (9-2).

Then, last Friday, the Red Storm’s mindboggling 66-game overall win streak and their eight-year, 111-game regular season run came to an end with a 9-3 (eight-inning) home loss to Thornton Academy in the first game of a doubleheader. Scarborough then bounced right back and began a new streak with a 7-5 come-from-behind victory in the nightcap before prevailing Monday at Westbrook, 8-4.

“That loss was a relief,” Griffin said. “I want the kids to be successful and they got over being disappointed very quickly. We won the second game (of the doubleheader) and the girls walked away with smiles on their faces.”

The Red Storm and Red Riots played twice in 2019, a narrow 3-1 home win for Scarborough in the regular season and a more decisive 12-0 (five-inning) victory for the Red Storm in the Class A South semifinals.

Entering play, Scarborough had won 12 in a row in the series (by a composite score of 142-21) and held a 26-4 all-time lead (see sidebar, below).

Wednesday, on another beautiful spring afternoon (72 degrees at first pitch), the Red Storm started slowly, then roared back for yet another impressive victory.

Connors turned around a Pizzella fastball and lined it to centerfield for a single to start the game. Pizzella then got senior second baseman Chloe Grant to chase the first pitch and pop out to third and after falling behind freshman leftfielder Ella Nickerson 3-1, threw a strike, then got her to fly out to center, but with Connor at the plate, Foley couldn’t hold a pitch and Connors moved up to second, then Connor lined the ball back up the middle, off Pizzella and into centerfield and Connors came home with the game’s first run with Connor taking second on the play. Jamieson then hit the ball hard, but it was right at Swett in center for the third out.

In the bottom half, Micucci got senior shortstop Mollie Verreault to pop out to second, Swett to ground out to second and Foley to line out to Connors at short on a 3-2 pitch.

South Portland added a second run in the top of the second, again with two outs.

DiMauro led off and grounded out to third on the first pitch. Whitten then produced her first hit, a single to center. After Micucci fell behind in the count 0-2, she drew a walk. Junior centerfielder Eliese Perron watched strike three, but on the first pitch, Connors lined another single, this time going the other way to left, and Whitten raced home to make it 2-0 as the runners moved up to second and third on the throw. Pizzella avoided further damage by getting Grant to line out to left.

In the bottom half, Micucci got junior first baseman Katie Roy to take strike three, Pizzella to ground out to second, with Jamieson making a nice play going to her right, and Giguere to chase strike three on a 3-2 pitch.

Pizzella had a much better top of the third, striking out Nickerson, getting Connor to pop out to second, then fanning Jamieson.

In the bottom half, Micucci got junior third baseman Maddie Russo to fly out to left on the first pitch, then fanned junior Gabby Giftos, who started the game in leftfield. Senior rightfielder Jordan Crosby then produced Scarborough’s first hit, slapping a single just inside the third base bag, but Verreault swung at the first pitch she saw and grounded out to Connors at short, who made a nice play on a tough hop before throwing on to Jamieson at second for an inning-ending force out.

“Julia Connors moved to shortstop last game and she did a good job there today,” said South Portland coach Ralph Aceto.

DiMauro then led off the top of the fourth with a double over the head of Giftos in left. Whitten followed with her third hit, a single to right-center, and DiMauro came in for a 3-0 lead. That was it for Pizzella, who was pulled in favor of Giguere, who got Micucci to pop out to second and Perron to line out to right. Connors then doubled to left, as the ball took a tricky bounce past Giftos, putting runners at second and third. Giguere then kept the deficit at three by getting Grant to ground back to the mound.

Micucci then found the second time through the Red Storm order to be much more difficult than the first.

Swett led off the bottom of the fourth by grounding out to Jamieson at second on a bang-bang play, but Foley singled to center and was replaced by courtesy runner Jamie Kemper. Roy then singled over first, putting runners at the corners. That brought up Pizzella, who singled to right on the first pitch she saw to deliver Scarborough’s first run and put runners at the corners again. Giguere then lined out to center, but Roy came home on the sacrifice fly. Russo then hit a sharp grounder to Connors at short, who made a nice backhanded stop before throwing to second for an inning-ending force out, but the Red Storm were only down a run, 3-2.

The Red Riots responded in their half of the fifth, going back on top by three.

Nickerson led off with a grounder to Russo and reached on an error. Nickerson then stole second and moved to third on a Connors’ ground out to second. Jamieson then delivered a double to right-center for a 4-2 lead. Jamieson moved to third when DiMauro grounded out to third and Whitten followed with her third hit, a run-scoring single to center. Micucci followed with a single to left to put runners at first and second, but Perron struck out to end the frame with South Portland on top, 5-2.

Then came the unforgettable bottom of the fifth, a 20-minute frame which saw Scarborough send a dozen batters to plate, produce six hits, take advantage of three errors and put up a “snowman,” or eight runs.

Gendreau, who had replaced Giftos in leftfield in the top of the inning, led off with a fly ball to right-center. Both Jamieson and Perron closed on it, but Jamieson got there first. She couldn’t hold it, however, and Gendreau reached.

Crosby then bunted down the third base line for a single.

Then came the thunder.

Verreault hit a sharp single to center on the first pitch she saw to load the bases.

Swett then lofted a single to left to score Gendreau and reload the bases.

Foley drove the ball deep to center, but Perron made a nice running catch for the first out and on the play, Crosby scored to cut the deficit to 5-4.

Roy then walked on a 3-2 pitch to reload the bases and Pizzella confidently strode to the plate and quickly came through with a single to center to score both Verreault and Swett for a 6-5 lead.

“I was just trying to relax,” Pizzella said. “My goal was to have fun. I was trying to make the most of it. I was just looking for a pitch down the middle. It worked out.”

On the play, Perron’s throw home got away and the runners moved up to second and third.

Giguere was next and she drove a fastball to deep right-center. For a moment, the ball appeared as if it would clear the fence, but instead, it hit the fence and Roy and courtesy runner Morgan Scoville came home on the double for an 8-5 lead.

“It was right down the middle and I made good contact,” said Giguere. “I thought it might get out. I was disappointed when it hit the fence.”

Scarborough wasn’t finished, as Russo popped out to short, but Gendreau followed with a single to center and Giguere scored to make it 9-5, with Gendreau taking second on the throw.

Crosby grounded to short for what should have been an inning-ending third out, but Connors couldn’t handle the ball and Gendreau came home with the eighth run of the inning. Verreault followed by grounding into a short-to-second force out, but the damage was done and the Red Storm went from down three to holding a commanding 10-5 lead.

“When we’re loud and have energy, everyone has potential to hit,” Giguere said.

“We have the power to come back when we’re down,” Pizzella said. “We can string hits together.”

“(Mia) was throwing great, overpowering us a little bit, so we talked about getting our timing and having her generate the power for us,” Griffin added. “Neither pitcher got the outside pitch today, so she had to come inside and that makes it tough for any pitcher. We put the ball in play. We can’t strike out 15 times and expect to win. We put pressure on them. We were aggressive with runners on base.”

Giguere preserved the lead in the top of the sixth, getting Connors to ground back to the mound, Grant to line out to right, where Crosby made a nice running catch, and after Nickerson singled to left, Crosby came up with another big play, fielding Connor’ apparent single and throwing her out at first by a step on the rare 9-3 putout to end the frame.

In the bottom half, Swett led off with a single off the glove of a diving Grant at second. Foley flew out to left, but Roy beat out an infield single to first. Micucci kept the score 10-5 by getting Pizzella to line out deep to center and Giguere to pop foul to Connor behind the plate.

The Red Riots wouldn’t go quietly in the top of the seventh, but Giguere was able to eventually close it out.

After Jamieson grounded out to short and DiMauro flew out to left, where Gendreau flopped forward to make the catch, Whitten kept hope alive with a double to right-center on a 3-2 pitch, then Micucci blooped a single to right to score the run. Giguere then went to a 3-2 count on pinch-hitter Emilie Way before getting Way to ground the ball back up the middle, where Verreault snared it, stepped on second for the force out and Scarborough was able to celebrate its 10-6 victory.

“The last inning was stressful, but I just wanted them to hit it,” Giguere said.

The Red Storm, who haven’t been shut out since the 2015 Class A state final (a 1-0 loss to Messalonskee) and not in the regular season since May 25, 2006 (1-0 to Windham) had just one hit and no runs through three innings, but would wind up with a dozen, as Crosby, Pizzella, Roy and Swett each had a pair.

Gendreau and Roy both scored twice, while Crosby, Giguere, Kemper, Scoville, Swett and Verreault all touched home once.

Giguere and Pizzella both drove in three runs, while Foley, Gendreau and Swett also had RBI.

Scarborough stranded five baserunners.

Pizzella gave up three earned runs on six hits in her three-plus innings of work. She walked one and struck out three before leaving the game.

“I shook it off because I knew my team had my back,” Pizzella said.

Giguere earned the victory in relief after allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits in four innings. She didn’t walk a batter and fanned one.

“I was a little stressed because I didn’t warm up very much,” Giguere said. “I knew if I put the ball in play, my teammates would have my back.”

“I thought Jenna did a good job being disciplined,” Pizzella said. “It was hard to hit spots we normally hit, but she did a great job.”

“Jenna’s done a good job,” Griffin added. “We know we’re going to use all of our pitchers.”

South Portland did enough to win most games, but not on this day.

The Red Riots produced 13 hits, as Whitten had a game-high four, Connors added three and Micucci finished with a pair.

Whitten scored two runs, while Connors, DiMauro, Jamieson and Nickerson each had one.

Whitten also had two RBI, while Connor, Connors, Jamieson and Micucci had one apiece.

South Portland left nine runners on base.

Micucci took the loss after giving up 10 runs (seven earned) on 12 hits in six innings of work. She walked one and struck out three.

“We played hard,” Aceto said. “I have no complaints. I’m not upset about the game. We played well, but we have things we need to clean up. We’ve made some defensive changes which have helped us and maybe there will be a few more. Hitting hasn’t been our problem. Getting the kids in the right spots in the lineup so one follows another, then another one follows another has been the problem and that’s on me. I don’t want to pull a good hitter out of the lineup.”

Two weeks left

With the regular season grinding to a close, both squads still have ample opportunity to improve their standing and they’ll see each other at least once more.

South Portland (which is currently ranked 11th in the Class A South Heal Points standings) plays two at Westbrook Saturday, then hosts Falmouth, plays a doubleheader at Biddeford and closes at home versus Scarborough June 1.

“We’re just trying to get better by June,” Aceto said. “That’s the name of the game, being there at the end.”

Scarborough (fourth in Class A South) has some big tests remaining as well, starting with a pivotal home doubleheader versus Biddeford Friday. After hosting Windham, the Red Storm play two at Bonny Eagle, then close at South Portland.

“This win gets me motivated,” said Giguere. “I’m excited to play Biddeford Friday.”

“I think we’re more ready than ever to play a team like Biddeford,” Pizzella said. “We’ve come so far. It was a relief to get that (first loss) off our backs. We’re a completely different team than we were when that streak was created.”

“A lot of teams can win this thing this year,” Griffin added. “I think there are seven or eight. Anybody can take it. Hopefully we’re on a good roll now. We need some quality wins. The front end of our schedule wasn’t as strong as our back end, so this is where our (Heal Points) are going to be made. Every win we can get will move us up. We want to finish top four and get homefield advantage. We have a lot to work for. We’ll have our hands full Friday. It’s a matter of who will bring their ‘A’ game.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Previous Scarborough-South Portland results

2019
@ Scarborough 3 South Portland 1
Class A South semifinal
@ Scarborough 12 South Portland 0 (5)

2018
Scarborough 11 @ South Portland 2

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2017
@ Scarborough 11 South Portland 0
Scarborough 9 @ South Portland 0

2016
Scarborough 8 @ South Portland 0
@ Scarborough 18 South Portland 1 (5)

2015
@ Scarborough 26 South Portland 0 (5)
Scarborough 5 @ South Portland 4

2014
@ Scarborough 13 South Portland 4
Scarborough 6 @ South Portland 4

2013
Scarborough 15 @ South Portland 5

2012
@ Scarborough 14 South Portland 6
Western A Final
South Portland 5 Scarborough 1

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2011
@ South Portland 3 Scarborough 1
Western A Final
Scarborough 1 South Portland 0

2010
@ Scarborough 5 South Portland 0
Western A Final
South Portland 5 Scarborough 2

2009
Scarborough 2 South Portland 0 (9 innings)
Western A Final
Scarborough 2 South Portland 0

2008
@ Scarborough 1 South Portland 0
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 1 South Portland 0

2007
Scarborough 1 @ South Portland 0
Western A Final
Scarborough 7 South Portland 1

2006
@ Scarborough 4 South Portland 3

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2005
Scarborough 9 @ South Portland 0
Western A Final
South Portland 1 Scarborough 0

2004
@ Scarborough 2 South Portland 1
Western A quarterfinals
@ Scarborough 3 South Portland 0

2003
Western A semifinals
@ Scarborough 3 South Portland 0