Baseball: No. 6 South Portland squeezes past Deering, 6-1

Jun. 4—SOUTH PORTLAND — Jude Charltray may be a freshman, but he knew what South Portland Coach Mike Owens' signal meant.

Owens wanted Charltray to bunt with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning, the defending Class A champion Red Riots trailing upstart No. 10 seed Deering by a run in Tuesday's Class A south preliminary round game at the Wainwright Recreation Complex.

"I got the signal and in my mind I was just like, 'I've got to get it down.' Then I just focused in, relaxed a little bit, and put it down," Charltray said.

The plan was to use the safety squeeze to score Addison Blais, pinch-running for Corbin Voisine who had led off with an infield single.

But Deering third baseman Alex Jordan's knee-high throw to first bounced off second baseman Zade Smith, covering first, and halfway to second base, allowing two more runs to score and turning a bunt into the key play in No. 7 South Portland's 6-1 win.

South Portland (11-6) advances to a regional quarterfinal at No. 2 Falmouth (13-3), scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Some of the baseball quarterfinal games have been moved forward to Wednesday. Deering finishes its season at 6-11, the Rams' most wins since 2018 and a marked improvement over 2023's 0-16 record.

Owens had gathered South Portland together prior to its fourth inning at-bats. To that point Deering senior starter Avery Lawrence hadn't allowed a hit, and had also led off the game with a booming triple and scored on an RBI single by his freshman brother Miles Lawrence.

"Down 1-0 I told them they had to believe something positive would happen," Owens said. "I didn't know that would happen. I've never seen three runs score on a safety squeeze."

After Voisine singled and Lawrence struck out Hudson Iacuessa, Curtis Metcalf was hit by an 0-2 pitch and junior shortstop Easton Healy drew a four-pitch walk, setting up Charltray's bunt.

"We always know we have to keep grinding on every at-bat. No matter what we're always going to keep pushing and obviously it paid off for us. We scored three runs on a sacrifice bunt," said Healy, the starting second baseman on last year's title team.

South Portland added three runs in the sixth highlighted by Healy's triple to deep center to score Metcalf (1 for 1, two runs, three stolen bases) and Charltray's RBI single after he fouled off three 3-2 pitches.

Deering had just three hits — one after the first inning — but did threaten often, leaving the bases loaded in the first and two runners on in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. A fine charging play from third by Charltray ended the first inning. Brady Mains got winning pitcher Kason Lewis off the hook in the sixth when he struck out Avery Lawrence with runners at second and third.

"Even down 6-1 they didn't feel like they were out of it," said Deering first-year coach Casey Lawrence. "They've scored five runs in an inning before and believed they could again."

Healy came on in the seventh after Mains had walked two batters and got the final three outs on ground balls. Healy said South Portland will be ready to take on Falmouth.

"We're going to walk in like we're the defending champs and we're going to play like we're the defending champs," Healy said. "All gas. No brakes."

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