Westbrook 12 Deering 0 (5-innings)
W- 413 13- 12 11 0
D- 000 00- 0 0 3
Post singled to right, Boulette and Damon scored. Hodgkins singled to left, Bean and Post scored.
Damon singled to right, Boulette scored.
Post scored on passed ball. Garber grounded to short, Avery MacWhinnie scored. Kullman singled to right, Ayden MacWhinnie scored.
Post scored on error.
Garber and Kullman scored on error. Bean grounded out to shortstop, Boulette scored.
W- Boulette, Damon, Post, Avery MacWhinnie
W- Boulette, Post 3, Bean, Damon, Garber, Kullman, Avery MacWhinnie, Ayden MacWhinnie
W- Hodgkins, Post 2, Bean, Damon, Garber, Kullman
W- Boulette, Damon, Kullman, Ayden MacWhinnie
Left on base:
Damon and Bean; Coleman, Lauture (5) and Forrest.
Damon (W) 5 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 6 K 1 HBP
Coleman (L) 4 IP 10 H 9 R 5 ER 2 BB 1 K 4 WP
Lauture 1 IP 1 H 3 R 1 ER 2 BB 0 K 1 WP
PORTLAND—There wasn’t much preseason buzz around Westbrook’s baseball team, but this just in:
The Blue Blazes are very good.
And for one day at least, senior pitcher Bronson Damon was almost perfect.
As the Deering Rams found out much to their chagrin Thursday afternoon at Hadlock Field.
Westbrook scored all the runs it would need in the top of the first when both senior first baseman Garren Post and senior designated hitter Bryce Hodgkins hit two-run singles for a quick 4-0 lead.
After adding a run in the second on an RBI single from Damon, the Blue Blazes broke it open with three more in the third, as one run scored on an error, another came home on a ground ball and the final run scored on an RBI single from senior shortstop Chris Kullman.
With Damon retiring the first nine batters he faced, Westbrook made it 9-0 in the top of the fourth on a throwing error and then they got to the brink of a mercy rule victory with three runs in the fifth.
The only lingering drama that remained was whether or not Damon could throw a no-hitter and he did so, getting the final out on a ground ball, and the Blue Blazes celebrated a most-impressive 12-0 victory.
Damon threw his first career no-hitter and Westbrook improved to 7-1-1 on the year, dropping the Rams to 1-8 in the process.
“We’re just staying humble, playing with a chip on our shoulder, having something to prove,” said Damon. “A lot of teams overlooked us, but if we play our game, good things will happen.”
Beautiful day for a ballgame
Westbrook has been a pleasant surprise the first half of this season.
The Blue Blazes started by beating visiting Bidddeford (9-5). After a 5-5 tie (in a game ended in the ninth inning by bad weather) against visiting Portland, Westbrook rolled at Scarborough (12-2, in five-innings) and upset host Thornton Academy (5-1) before falling at home to Gorham (11-7). The Blue Blazes then blanked host Bonny Eagle (2-0), visiting Massabesic (5-0) and host Sanford (2-0).
Deering, meanwhile, started with losses at Marshwood (11-7) and Noble (7-2), then fell at home to South Portland (9-0), Gorham (7-1) and Sanford (8-2) before losing at Falmouth (8-1) and at Thornton Academy (19-0, in five-innings). Tuesday, the Rams broke into the win column, edging host Windham, 4-3.
Last year, the Blue Blazes came to Hadlock Field and rolled to a 15-1 (five-inning victory).
Thursday, on a picture perfect mid-May afternoon (69 degrees at first pitch, under glorious blue skies), Deering sought to beat Westbrook for the first time since May 5, 2018 (16-8 on the road), but instead, the Blue Blazes continued to surge and did so with a flourish.
Rams senior starter Conner Coleman got Kullman to line to center to start the game, but sophomore third baseman Connor Boulette got things started with a double to left and Damon beat out an infield hit. After junior catcher Alex Bean walked to load the bases, Post lined a single to right to score both Boulette and Damon and move Bean to third. Post moved up to second on a wild pitch and after senior second baseman Avery MacWhinnie flew out to shallow center, Hodgkins singled past short to score both Bean and Post. Senior centerfielder Ayden MacWhinnie grounded back to the mound, but Westbrook had a 4-0 lead before Damon even took the mound.
Damon then made quick work of Deering in the bottom half, getting sophomore shortstop Avery Lawrence to look at strike three, senior leftfielder Eli Bigelman to chase strike three and senior centerfielder Qwest Newhall to line out to right.
“Pitching with a lead just helps you stay confident,” Damon said.
Coleman then made a nice play, at a price, to start the top of the second, as senior rightfielder Reid Garber hit a sharp grounder off Coleman’s foot and even though he was visibly shaken up, Coleman tracked down the ball and threw Garber out by a step. Coleman then crumpled to the ground in pain and after being tended to for several minutes by Deering athletic trainer Greg Tosi, Coleman opted to stay in the game.
“(Conner) didn’t come out of the game and he made the play too,” said Rams coach Ryan Martin. “He kept wanting to battle. He’s all about that. All the guys are.”
Coleman then got Kullman to bounce out to second, but with two outs, Westbrook put together a rally, as Boulette singled to left, stole second and came home on Damon’s single to right. Damon also stole second, but was stranded when Bean grounded out to short, keeping the score 5-0.
In the bottom half, Damon got a dose of luck, as Coleman grounded the ball off his foot, but it ricocheted right to Boulette at third, who threw on to first for the out. Damon then got sophomore catcher Jackson Forrest to to ground to second before striking out freshman third baseman Tay Lauture swinging.
The Blue Blazes put up another crooked number in the top of the third, extending their lead.
Post drew a walk leading off, then Avery MacWhinnie beat out an infield single to short. Hodgkins flew out to left and Ayden MacWhinnie grounded the ball to second where Deering had a chance to turn two and ultimately didn’t register any outs, as senior second baseman Drew Hamilton’s throw to Lawrence was dropped for an error, loading the bases. After a passed ball brought home Post and moved the runners up, Garber grounded out to short, but on the play, Avery MacWhinnie scored. Kullman then lined a single to right to score Ayden MacWhinnie and while Boulette flew out to deep left, the score was now 8-0.
In the bottom half, Damon got Hamilton to ground back to him on the first pitch, battled back from a 3-1 count to fan freshman designated hitter Will Jordan on a 3-2 pitch, then made it nine-up, nine-down by getting senior rightfielder Ethan Corson to ground back to the mound.
Damon and Bean both grounded out to short to start the top of the fourth (with Lawrence making a nice play going to his right to rob Bean), but Post singled to right, then took second on a wild pitch and with Avery MacWhinnie beating out an infield single, the throw from Lauture was wild for an error and Post came home with the ninth run before Hodgkins struck out to end it.
In the bottom half, Damon’s quest for a perfect game ended when he plunked Lawrence with a pitch leading off. Bigelman then flew out to right and after Lawrence moved up on a passed ball, Newhall bid for a hit with a grounder up the middle, but Kullman made a nice stab to get to the ball and Post made a nice stretch at first to record the out. Damon then fanned Coleman to send the game to the fifth.
Where Westbrook scored the necessary runs off Lauture, who replaced Coleman on the mound, to induce the mercy rule.
Ayden MacWhinnie got things started with a single through the right side, then he stole second before both Garber and Kullman drew walks. Boulette grounded to Lawrence at short, who threw home for a force out. Damon then hit the ball to short, but it got past Lawrence for an error and two runs scored. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, Bean grounded to short to score the 12th and final Blue Blazes run. Lauture then got junior pinch-hitter Ben Eugley to ground to third.
That set the stage for Damon to chase history in the bottom half.
He started the frame by fanning Forrest. Lauture then flew to left.
Then, at 5:29 p.m., Damon got Hamilton to ground slowly to second and Avery MacWhinnie fielded the ball and threw over to Post for the final out, to clinch the 12-0 victory and the no-hitter.
“That’s my first (no-hitter),” said Damon. “Pretty exciting. I knew the whole game I hadn’t given up a hit. I had a perfect game until I hit the kid. At the end, I just put it in the zone and if he hit it, whatever, as long as we get the win.”
Damon didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. He went to a three-ball count just once.
“This was my first time pitching here and I was excited,” Damon said. “It makes you feel like you’re in the big leagues. It’s a fun environment, a nice field. I threw one curveball all game. I just put fastballs down the middle and let my defense make plays.”
Offensively, Westbrook got two hits apiece from Boulette, Damon, Post and Avery MacWhinnie.
Boulette and Post both scored three times, while Bean, Damon, Garber, Kullman, Avery MacWhinnie and Ayden MacWhinnie all touched home once.
Hodgkins and Post both drove in a pair of runs, while Bean, Damon, Garber and Kullman had one RBI apiece.
The Blue Blazes left five runners on base.
For Deering, Coleman took the loss, giving up nine runs (five earned) on 10 hits in four innings. He walked two and struck out one.
In one inning of relief, Lauture surrendered three runs (one earned) on one hit and two walks. He didn’t strike out a batter.
The Rams stranded their lone base runner.
“(Westbrook’s) really good and that pitcher is tough,” Martin said. “It’s tough when you don’t get base runners and you can’t score, but our kids do keep fighting and keep playing one pitch at a team. We got better today and that was our goal. ”
Westbrook returns to action Saturday morning, at home versus Windham. The Blue Blazes then have a showdown at reigning Class A champion South Portland Tuesday of next week.
“We just have to keep our momentum and keep working hard,” said Damon.
As for Deering, it’s back at Hadlock Field Saturday morning to take on Bonny Eagle. Next week, the Rams visit Biddeford and Massabesic.
“The guys compete and we’re getting better each day,” Martin said. “Progress is night and day from last year to this year. We’re making routine plays, having better at-bats and we’re putting the ball in play more.”