Cape Elizabeth senior Val Murphy (5) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring to tie the game in the second inning Wednesday afternoon at Yarmouth. Murphy would eventually score the winning run as well, in the ninth inning, as the Capers beat the Clippers, 2-1.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
CE- 010 000 001- 2 10 4
Y- 100 000 000- 1 4 4
Waaler doubled to left-center, Waeldner scored.
Murphy scored on error.
Sullivan singled to left-center, Murphy scored.
CE- Murphy 2
Left on base:
Weare, Bakke (1), Sullivan (5) and Tinsman; Morrill, Romano (7) and Waaler
* Weare 0+ IP 1 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 0 K
Bakke 4.1 IP 1 H 0 R 3 BB 1 K 1 HBP
Sullivan (W 3-0) 4.2 IP 2 H 0 R 4 BB 1 K
* Weare faced two batters in the first
Morrill 6 IP 7 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 4 K
Romano (L, 0-1) 3 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 1 K
YARMOUTH—Cape Elizabeth senior Carson Sullivan didn’t arrive at Wednesday’s Western Maine Conference baseball showdown at rival Yarmouth until the fifth inning.
But as far as the Capers were concerned, Sullivan was right on time.
That’s because Sullivan, who was delayed by taking an AP physics exam, would play a crucial role in an extra-innings thriller.
The Clippers got off to a fast start, as senior leftfielder Luke Waeldner drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second, then senior catcher James Waaler doubled him home.
That was it for Cape Elizabeth senior starter Ryan Weare and that would be it for Yarmouth’s offense as well.
The Capers, who mustered all of one hit and no runs in a loss Monday to Freeport, drew even in the top of the second, when senior second baseman Val Murphy reached on a single and eventually came around on a throwing error to make it 1-1.
From there, both teams squandered opportunities as Clippers senior starter Dom Morrill and Cape Elizabeth junior reliever Jameson Bakke matched zeroes.
Once Sullivan arrived at the field, he took over on the mound for the Capers in the fifth inning and while Yarmouth had opportunities to get to him, it never produced the clutch hit.
Morrill was replaced in the seventh by junior Jack Romano, who kept the game tied until the top of the ninth.
There, with two on and one out, Sullivan came through with the game’s biggest hit, a single to left-center, scoring Murphy, and Cape Elizabeth finally had the lead.
Sullivan worked around a one-out error in the bottom half and the Capers prevailed, 2-1.
Cape Elizabeth earned a dose of revenge from last year’s semifinal round playoff loss, reached the midway point of the regular season at 7-1 and dropped the Clippers to 3-3 in the process.
“In a 16-game season, nobody remembers your regular season record and we want to play our best baseball at the end, but to be 7-1 at this point against quality teams, we’re excited,” said Capers coach Andy Wood.
The Capers and Clippers have played each other tough over the years (see sidebar, below). Last season, Cape Elizabeth held on for a 5-4 regular season win, but in the rematch, in the Class B South semifinals, Yarmouth won, 2-0, en route to an improbable state championship.
This spring, both teams figure to be among the last ones standing in June.
Cape Elizabeth started with a 13-3 (six-inning) home win over Leavitt, then needed 13-innings to outlast host Greely in a playoff rematch, 4-1. The Capers then downed host Lake Region (16-0, in five-innings), visiting York (4-1), host Freeport (8-2) and visiting Fryeburg Academy, 4-0, before falling from the unbeaten ranks Monday with a 3-0 home loss to Freeport.
Yarmouth picked up where it left off, edging visiting York in the opener, 4-3, then blanking host Poland (12-0). After falling in five-innings at Greely (13-2), the Clippers downed visiting Poland in five-innings (13-2) before losing at Wells Friday, 7-3.
Wednesday, under skies that changed from sunny to foggy (the first pitch temperature was 55 degrees), the Capers outlasted the Clippers and evened up the series at 14 wins apiece dating back to the start of the 2002 season.
Morrill caught Cape Elizabeth senior shortstop Finn Bowe looking at strike three to start the game, but senior catcher Brendan Tinsman lined a single to right. After Morrill caught senior third baseman Alec Riggle watching strike three, Weare lined a single to left, but the threat ended when Bakke grounded out to short.
Yarmouth struck quickly in the bottom of the first.
Weare started the frame by walking Waeldner and that immediately brought Wood to the mound for a visit. Waeldner then stole second in a close play and Waaler followed with a double to left-center to score Waeldner, make it 1-0 and chase Weare, who was replaced to Bakke.
“You could see that Ryan didn’t have a good feeling about it and wasn’t throwing downhill,” Wood said. “I wasn’t going to mess around.”
The Clippers weren’t able to add to the lead, as Romano hit a fly ball to center that senior centerfielder Cooper Hoffman sprawled to catch. Senior third baseman Jackson Caruso then squibbed a ball to short where Bowe came up with it and threw to Riggle at third to tag Waaler for the second out. Sophomore shortstop Aidan Hickey then popped out in foul ground to Tinsman to end the inning with Yarmouth only on top by a run.
Cape Elizabeth, which hadn’t scored since a 4-0 win over Fryeburg Academy Saturday, then broke through to tie the score, with some help from the Clippers’ defense.
Murphy singled to left-center leading off, then took second on a slow ground out to second by Hoffman. Morrill and Waaler then tried nine times to pick Murphy off and came close on a couple occasions, but on the ninth attempt, Morrill hit Murphy, the ball rolled away and Murphy took off for third and he didn’t stop there, as sophomore second baseman Jason Lainey’s throw was wild as well and Murphy came home to pull the Capers even.
Senior Zachaois Fitz watched strike three, but senior Sean Agrodnia, who also had an AP test Wednesday, batted for junior first baseman Ryan Olberholtzer and singled to left. Freshman Jake Tinsman came on to run, but he was stranded as Bowe grounded out to short to end the frame.
In the bottom half, Morrill looked at strike three, senior first baseman Ben Norton flew out to left and after junior designated hitter Toby Burgmaier and Lainey both walked on 3-2 pitches, Waeldner hit a ground ball that appeared ticketed up the middle, but it glanced off Bakke’s glove to Murphy at second, who flipped the ball to Bowe for the inning-ending force out.
Brendan Tinsman led off the third by popping out foul to his opposite number, Waaler. Riggle then lined a single to right on the first pitch and Weare reached when Hickey bobbled his grounder before throwing to Lainey, who couldn’t hold on the ball for a force out. Bakke then lined out to left, with Waeldner making a nice play, and with Murphy at the plate, Riggle tried to steal third, but was easily thrown out to retire the side.
In the bottom half, Waaler lined out to center, but Romano reached on an infield single to the right of Bakke and when Bakke threw the ball away, Romano moved to second, but Caruso followed with a line drive to second and Murphy was able to double up Romano to send the game to the fourth.
An ancient baseball axiom states that the player who makes a great defensive play in one half inning is destined to lead off the next and that’s exactly what happened, as Murphy came to bat and he crushed the ball to left, but Waeldner got back to make the catch. Hoffman was then out on a little squibber to Norton at first. Fitz walked on a 3-2 pitch, but Oberholtzer watched a third strike for the third out.
In the bottom half, Hickey hit a little pop fly that appeared as if it might drop in leftfield for a hit, but Bowe went back and caught it over his shoulder for the first out. Morrill walked on a 3-2 pitch and Norton took a pitch off his helmet, but Burgmaier hit a little pop fly to Murphy, who let the ball drop before tagging Norton and throwing on to Riggle at third to tag Morrill for another double play.
Bowe led off the fifth with a single to left-center, but Tinsman hit a fly ball to center and Riggle grounded into a short-to-second double play.
Sullivan then made an appearance in the fifth, starting in the field, as Bakke retired Lainey on a pop fly to second.
Sullivan then took the mound and immediately walked Waeldner and Waaler to create a jam, which he escaped by getting Romano to fly out to right and Caruso to line out to left.
“I got here and Coach had me warm up for an inning,” said Sullivan. “I was planning to start Friday. I didn’t think I’d pitch today.”
Cape Elizabeth got a runner in scoring position in the top of the sixth, as after Weare lined out to center on the first pitch, Bakke singled to the hole between short and third and after Murphy popped out to second, Bakke took second on an errant pickoff attempt, but Hoffman bounced out to second to keep the game tied.
Yarmouth threatened in the bottom half, as after Hickey flew out to left, Morrill went the other way and singled to left. Senior Ben Gleason came on to run and took second on a ground out to short by Norton. Burgmaier then grounded to Bowe at short and Bowe bobbled the ball for an error. Clippers coach Marc Halsted, who is never shy sending his runners into the fray, waved his right arm for Gleason to try and score, but Bowe recovered and threw to Tinsman to nab Gleason to end the frame.
Romano came on to pitch the top of the seventh and recorded the first 1-2-3 inning of the game, getting Sullivan to ground out to short, fanning Olberholtzer swinging and getting Bowe to ground out to second.
The Clippers then looked to win it in the bottom half, but were frustrated.
Hickey led off and reached on an error by Bowe at short. Yarmouth didn’t attempt to bunt the potential winning run over, as Waeldner lined a ball that Bowe couldn’t catch, but Hoffman was playing shallow and he was able to get to it and throw to Murphy for the rarely seen 8-4 put-out. Waaler followed with a ground ball force out as well, but Romano singled to right to set the stage for Caruso to play hero, but he watched strike three and the game went to extra innings.
Romano remained strong in the top of the eighth, getting Tinsman to pop foul down the first base line, where Norton made a pretty running catch, Riggle to ground out to second and Weare to pop to Norton.
The Clippers threatened again in the bottom of the frame, only to be stymied again.
Hickey drew a walk leading off and he went to second when Morrill grounded slowly to Oberholtzer at first with Sullivan covering. Norton was walked intentionally, but Burgmaier couldn’t play the hero, grounding out Riggle at third for a force out. Lainey then hoped to win it, but he fouled the ball down the third base line in front of Yarmouth’s dugout. Tinsman came over to make the play and ignored the a comment from the Clippers bench meant to break his concentration and caught the ball to end the inning.
Cape Elizabeth finally broke the stalemate in the ninth.
Bakke led off with a single to left on the first pitch. He was erased when Murphy grounded into a short-to-second force out and Murphy went to second when Hoffman’s sharp grounder to second took a nasty hop and went off Lainey’s glove for a single. That set the stage for Sullivan to play the hero and he pounded a single to left-center. Murphy never slowed down, rounded third and came in with the go-ahead run.
“I knew he was throwing fastball, curve, fastball, so I knew the pattern and I found a pitch where I liked it and just hit it,” Sullivan said. “I was able to get it to the outfield. I knew we’d try to get Val (home).”
“When Carson got here, we put him in the nine hole and he came up with the big hit,” Wood said.
Senior pinch-hitter Alex Bozek then grounded out to first and on the play, Sullivan tried to go to third, but was thrown out, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Yarmouth had one final chance, but Sullivan got Waeldner to pop out to third and after Waaler reached on a Riggle throwing error, Riggle redeemed himself by making a terrific stab on a one-hop rocket off the bat of Romano, before throwing to second from his knees for the second out.
“Alec made a bad throw, then the next play, he made a great play,” Wood said.
That left the game in the hands of Caruso, who popped out to short, bringing an end to a 2-hour, 23-minute affair with the Capers victorious, 2-1.
“We used last game as motivation,” Sullivan said. “We worked hard in practice with hitting yesterday. Hopefully we have that mindset now and got going.”
“I had a set lineup on the bus, but I had to change it because we had two kids taking AP tests, so to grind it out at their place and compete was great,” Wood said. “We worked out of jams.”
Two days after producing just one hit, Cape Elizabeth finished with 10. Bakke was the only Caper with multiple hits (two). Murphy scored twice and Sullivan had the team’s lone RBI. Cape Elizabeth stranded seven runners.
After Weare walked one and hit a batter to give up a run in his short stint, Bakke righted the ship, going 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and three walks. Bakke hit a batter and registered one strikeout.
“Jameson is an outfielder who came in and threw strikes,” Wood said. “We go through those situations every day in practice.”
Sullivan earned the win in relief, improving to 3-0 after giving up two hits in 4.2 scoreless innings. He walked four and fanned one.
“I pitched how I would if no one was on,” Sullivan said. “I just kept the ball where it needed to be.”
Yarmouth only mustered four hits on the day with Romano producing two of them. Waeldner scored the Clippers’ lone run, which was driven in by Waaler. Waeldner also stole a base.
Yarmouth left a dozen runners on base.
Morrill, who had a tough time in his last outing, at Greely, bounced back and earned a no-decision after giving up one unearned run on seven hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
“Dom was down in the zone where he needs to live,” Halsted said. “I’m incredibly proud of how he bounced back from his last start.”
Romano fell to 0-1 after giving up one run on three hits in three innings of work. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned one.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Halsted said. “They were better. We didn’t get hits in big spots. Carson was fantastic. When you just pop the ball up, it means he was hitting his spots. We had some unfortunate baserunning today.”
Following the game, Halsted had the Clippers run in the outfield for several minutes before talking to his team about sportsmanship in the wake of the incident in the bottom of the eighth innings.
Yarmouth is in the midst of a busy stretch. The Clippers are at Lake Region Friday, host St. Dom’s Saturday and Greely Monday, then travel to Freeport Wednesday of next week.
While it’s still early, Yarmouth sits 14th in the Class B South Heal Points standings and only 11 teams make the playoffs. That means the Clippers need some big wins to have an opportunity to recreate last year’s magic.
“We have work to do,” Halsted said. “We have to score runs. We have no easy games with our schedule. We’ll have to make our own good fortune.”
Cape Elizabeth (first in Class B South) is home to battle Wells Friday, then sandwiches games at York and Wells around a home game versus Poland next week.
The Capers have a chance to do special things this spring, but they still have a way to go.
“We’re a motivated team,” Sullivan said. “We cheer each other on. We can get better at everything. Definitely our hitting and stuff in the field too.”
“We’re pitching and playing good defense and the bats will come around when the weather gets warmer,” Wood said. “The guys are confident and have bought into our style of play. The seniors want it.”
Yarmouth senior starter Dom Morrill goes into his delivery.
Cape Elizabeth junior Jameson Bakke throws a pitch. Bakke came on in relief in the first inning and lasted until the fifth.
Yarmouth senior Luke Waeldner (3) is congratulated by sophomore Aidan Hickey after scoring a run in the first inning.
Cape Elizabeth senior Val Murphy slides home to tie the game in the top of the second.
Yarmouth sophomore second baseman Jason Lainey takes a throw at second as Cape Elizabeth junior Alec Riggle arrives.
Cape Elizabeth senior centerfielder Cooper Hoffman sprawls to make a catch.
Cape Elizabeth junior first baseman Ryan Olberholtzer takes a pickoff throw as Yarmouth junior Toby Burgmaier gets back just in time.
Cape Elizabeth junior Alec Riggle is tagged out by Yarmouth senior third baseman Jackson Caruso on a third inning stolen base attempt.
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 4
Class B South semifinal
Yarmouth 2 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 2 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 1
Yarmouth 14 @ Cape Elizabeth 3 (5)
@ Yarmouth 9 Cape Elizabeth 8 (8)
Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Yarmouth 1 (10)
@ Cape Elizabeth 10 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 4 Cape Elizabeth 0
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 6
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 1
@ Yarmouth 7 Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 3
Cape Elizabeth 18 @ Yarmouth 2 (5)
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Yarmouth 4
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Yarmouth 5 Cape Elizabeth 2
Yarmouth 6 @ Cape Elizabeth 0