Yankee Ford wins way to state tourney

Tim Carion arrives home for Libby-Mitchell vs. the Sebago Lakers.

The Yankee Ford (South Portland, Cape Elizabeth) and Libby-Mitchell (Scarborough, Gorham, Westbrook) American Legion baseball teams wended their way through the Regional tournament last weekend, July 22-23, and where Yankee Ford picked up a pair of Ws to advance to the state tournament, currently underway in Augusta, Libby-Mitchell suffered a pair of defeats and retired for the season.

All three games played at Wainwright Sports Complex in South Portland.

No. 1 Yankee Ford vs. No.5 Libby-Mitchell

The teams faced off against one another on Friday, July 22, with Yankee Ford emerging victorious 10-2.

Yankee head coach Andy Wood summed up the victory in simple terms. “We had 15 hits; [they] had eight. Nate Ingalls pitched; he came in and did his job.”

Yankee put up the afternoon’s first run: Leadoff hitter Sam Troiano belted a double in the bottom of the first, and scored on Ingalls’s follow-up at-bat. Libby-Mitchell pitcher Cam Smith, however, ushered his team out of trouble. Smith tallied three quick Ks – against Ben Conti, Dylan Roberts and Anthony Degifico – to escape the inning.

Smith and Co. briefly seized a narrow advantage in the top of the third, when they picked up two. Smith reached base on a trickler single that Ingalls jumped off the mound to grab; Ingalls whirled and threw toward first only to clip Smith in the helmet with the ball. Smith, awarded first, promptly scored on a Cam Seymour centerfield triple. Seymour himself crossed home when Nick Lorello singled to left.

After that, however, Yankee found an impressive groove and pulled away. The heavy favorites hashed four in the bottom of the third – Conti, Drew Abramson, Roberts and Alex Livingston all rounded – then two in the fourth (Ingalls and Conti) and one each in the fifth (Henry Curran), seventh (Ingalls) and eighth (Abramson).

Smith finished 3-5 with three singles for Libby-Mitchell; Gerek Brown went 3-4 with three singles.

Ingalls went 3-5 with a single, two triples and a steal. Conti went 2-5 with a double and a triple; Abramson went 2-5 with a single, a double and a walk; Roberts went 2-5 with a double, a triple, a walk and a steal; and Curran went 2-3 with a single, a double and a walk.

The result bumped Yankee Ford to 18-1 on the season, and dropped Libby-Mitchell to 6-13.

No. 5 Libby-Mitchell vs. No. 3 Sebago Lakers

With their loss to Yankee Ford on the books, Libby-Mitchell had one final chance to remain in the tournament: beating the Sebago Lakers. But the bout, played on Saturday the 23rd, went Sebago’s way in the end, 7-6.

Sebago struck first in the matchup, posting three runs in the bottom of the opening inning: Devin Butler grounded, reaching first on an error at shortstop, then rounded all the way to home when Brady Grass followed him to the plate and belted a triple into wide right field.

Brady Anderson took a turn behind Grass, and brought him home again with a sac shot to second. Finally, Tanner Laberge delivered a double, then advanced to third on a Roderick Maynard single and home on a Troy Bogdahn single.

Libby-Mitchell had no immediate answer for the Lakers’ attack, and Sebago hashed two more in the fifth to begin to pull away. Maynard pelted a single into right and Bogdahn brought him home with a double, also into right; Zach Hicks and DJ Shea then singled and Bogdahn scored for 5-0.

But Libby-Mitchell fought back in the top of the sixth: Morgan Pratt singled, Cam Smith reached on an error in right field, and Cam Seymour singled; all three would soon reach home to slice their team’s deficit by 60 percent.

Sebago added two more before their bats fell silent: Grass crossed in the bottom of the sixth and Anderson in the bottom of the eighth. It would be just enough offense to keep the Lakers ahead of Libby-Mitchell, who managed to wring three from the game. Tim Carion scored in the top of the eighth, and Morgan Pratt and Smith both scored in the top of the ninth. But Hicks, on the mound for the Lakers, managed to choke off the action with a couple of Ks, wrapping up the W.

Carion finished 2-5 in the game with a pair of singles; Pratt went 2-5 with a double, a single and a walk; Smith went 2-5 with a double and a single.

Butler finished 1-5 in the game with a single and a walk; Grass 2-5 with a triple and a double; Anderson 3-5 with a trio of singles; Laberge 1-5 with a single and a walk; Maynard 3-5 with three singles and a walk; Bogdahn 3-5 with two singles, a double and a walk; Hicks 1-5 with a single; and Shea 1-5 with a single.

Sebago moved to 11-9 on the win, and closed Libby-Mitchell’s summer at 6-14.

No. 1 Yankee Ford vs. No. 2 Coastal Landscaping

Yankee’s matchup with Coastal on Saturday the 23rd unfurled much more tautly than had their steamrolling of Libby-Mitchell. Coastal, in fact, fought to a big lead through eight before Yankee rallied impressively and snatched a 6-5 W.

“We’ve beaten Coastal every time we’ve played ‘em,” said Wood. “But every time, it’s been a one-, two-run ballgame.”

The first three full innings elapsed scorelessly, but Coastal broke the deadlock in the top of the fourth, when they added two. Griffin Watson and James Sinclair both rounded, giving Coastal a bare lead they clung to through the fifth, sixth, and seventh.

Coastal tallied three more in the top of the eighth: Sinclair, Pat Sullivan and Alex Libby scored to put the team out front 5-0 and hand them all the momentum.

“Our defense just didn’t have it today,” said Wood. “Our third baseman, Alex Livingston, made an error – first time I’ve seen him make an error all year; Drew Abramson, our shortstop, overthrew a ball he probably should’ve ate; between the catcher and first baseman, there was a fly ball, and not being from the same town, they’re not really used to practicing with each other, so one of them didn’t call the ball and they collided.”

“We knew it was going to be a good game,” said Wood. “But to be down 5-0 – for (Coastal starting pitcher) Colby Dame to come in and shut us down for eight innings – the kids were kind of lackadaisical. They came in thinking they were going to win just going through the motions. So we didn’t really wake up till the bottom of the eighth.”

And even the bottom of the eighth started on a down note. Livingston and Matt Riggle both grounded out, 5-3 and 6-3 respectively. Henry Curran then put up a single, however, and reached second on an error. Curran scored when Sam Troiano knocked a bouncy grounder past second, and Troiano scored when Nate Ingalls singled. Ben Conti followed Ingalls with another single, a shallow chop into right, but then Abramson knocked a ball directly to third for the last out of the ups.

Yankee held the Coastal attack at bay through the top of the ninth, in fact downing them one-two-three on a pair of Ks and a fly-out to right. Then, faced with their final opportunity, Yankee converted: Dylan Roberts flew out to center to begin the stretch, but Anthony Degifico promptly knocked a single grounder up the middle. Livingston then singled to wide right before Riggle grounded out 5-3. Two men on and two men down.

Curran bunted, but Coastal first baseman Jared Brooks dropped the throw and Curran arrived safely. A seeming miscommunication, however, next resulted in an odd moment and a controversial call. Livingston at second had seized the chance to dash for third on Curran’s bunt, but Degifico at third hadn’t likewise seized the chance to dash for home, so the two soon found themselves crowded up at third.

Both players changed their minds: Degifico took off for home and Livingston reversed course, heading back to second. The Coastal throw reached Watson at shortstop – but he missed the tag, as the umpire saw it, and then dropped the ball, allowing Livingston safe passage to the bag.

Troiano walked onto base, and then Livingston scored on an Ingalls single. 5-4. Coastal swapped out pitchers then, Colby Dame for Alex Libby, but Libby began by walking Conti, which pushed Curran home and brought up Abramson. Abramson took one ball, but then – of all the ways to end a game – Troiano stole home, pushing his boys ahead 6-5 for the win.

“Sam’s going to be a D1 baseball player, probably; he’s got all the tools,” said Wood, explaining the strategy behind stealing home in such a tight game. “We he gets on base, he steals second, he steals third – all the time; it’s just too easy for him. He’s got great instincts.

“It’s hard to be the catcher in that situation; you can’t pop out too early, because if the batter swings, you’re gonna make contact, and with bases loaded, we’d score anyway … They definitely weren’t expecting it in a 5-5 ballgame with our four-hitter coming to the plate. But for all the things the pitcher needs to do and the catcher needs to do – you have to practice that situation, and in summer baseball, you don’t really do it.”

Troiano finished the game 1-5 with a single, Ingalls 3-5 with three singles, Conti 2-5 with two singles and a walk, Degifico 1-4 with a single, Livingston 2-4 with two singles, and Curran 1-4 with a single.

Yankee jumped to 19-1 on the win, while Coastal slipped to 13-9.

Tim Carion arrives home for Libby-Mitchell vs. the Sebago Lakers.

Yankee’s Drew Abramson (left) and Sam Troiano (right) celebrate after Troiano’s steal home completed a comeback victory for the team vs. Coastal.

Henry Curran races home for Yankee Ford vs. Coastal Landscaping.

Libby-Mitchell shortstop Nick Lorello waits on a throw, incoming from first, as a Sebago Lakers baserunner attempts to steal second.

Mike Doherty started on the mound for Libby-Mitchell in their matchup vs. Sebago.

Libby-Mitchell catcher Bayley Welsh lays a successful tag on Yankee Ford baserunner Anthony Degifico.

Nate Ingalls unwinds into a pitch vs. Libby-Mitchell.