MIDDLETOWN >> The Portland baseball team capped off an incredible run through the Class S state tournament with an 8-0 win in the championship over Thomaston.
The Highlanders came into the tournament as the No. 17 seed, losing the last four games heading into the tournament and managed to turn it around, winning five games in a row and allowed only two runs the whole way.
“These guys would not be denied in this tournament run,” Portland head coach, Rick Borg said. “The eight seniors on this team, it was their leadership; they wanted to go out with a state championship.”
This is the first state championship for Portland in baseball since 1988, when Borg was an assistant coach for Coach Gene Reilly, who passed away earlier this spring.
“Coach Riley passed away before the season started and he got one of these (a team hat),” Borg said as he took off his hat. “He’s definitely watching down, giving us signs.”
One of the seniors that stood out was starter Jason Staub who kept the Golden Bears bats silenced all day. Thomaston came in averaging seven runs game in the tournament. Staub allowed just one hit in his final game.
He also was helped out with a four-run first inning.
“I was very relaxed, it felt great to have a cushion,” Staub said.
“He pitches a lot of our big games,” Borg said.
The Highlanders’ first-inning explosion, which began with three hits to open the game, was highlighted by a Hayden Manning two RBI double that gave them a 2-0 lead.
Portland added two more in the first and capitalized on a fielding blunder. With two outs, Leo Thomas hit a groundball to Thomaston second baseman Anthony Moura who tried to tag Mike Bordonaro and missed. That allowed everyone to be safe. Jon Dolan knocked in two runs on a base hit, giving Portland a 6-0 lead.
“The pitcher dominated us, they dominated us,” Thomaston head coach Bob McMahon said. “It was up for grabs and it wasn’t us.”
The Golden Bears did have chances to get back in this game, but the Highlanders were always there to make the plays.
“In the first three innings, we had runners in scoring position, and we hit sinking line drives and they played us right,” McMahon said. “We hit it right at them, three times, with two outs. I would have loved to see what happened if we had gotten on base.”
Thomaston had beaten three other Shoreline Conference teams, Valley Regional, Morgan and Cromwell on their way to the title game.
“To beat them the way we did is very impressive,” Borg said. “Very surprising. I was expecting a tight nail-biter.”
For Staub, he knew his team always had a shot.
“We always thought we had a chance to win this thing,” he said, as his teammates streaked across the outfield towards to scoreboard in left centerfield. “It’s unreal.”
Portland 8 Thomaston 0
At Palmer Field
Portland 4020020 – 8 11 3
Thomaston 0000000 – 0 1 1
WP: Jason Staub
LP: Brian Butkevicius
2B: P – Nick Adamsons; Hayden Manningl Josh Scovill; Leo Thomas.
RBI: P – Manning 2; Jon Dolan 2; Scovill; Mike Bordonaro; John Muskatello
Records: Portland 16-9 Thomaston 21-4