One of the finest seasons in the long and storied history of the Cape Elizabeth baseball program came to a disappointing end Saturday in Bangor.
The Capers, following a dominant regular season and an inspirational regional playoff run, couldn’t match the offensive potency of the Waterville Purple Panthers in the Class B Final and finished 18-2 with a 9-5 loss.
Cape Elizabeth, still stinging over last year’s heartbreaking extra inning upset loss in the semifinals, was superb in the regular year, winning 15 of 16 games (with an 8-6 home loss to Yarmouth May 20 serving as the lone blemish). The Capers earned the top seed in Western B and held off No. 8 Oak Hill (3-0), avenged last year’s setback with 4-3 (eight inning) semifinal round victory over No. 5 Greely, then outlasted second-ranked Yarmouth, 5-1, in the regional finals.
In the win over the Clippers, senior ace Conor Moloney surrendered his first earned run all season, but due to high school baseball pitching use rules, wasn’t available for Saturday’s state game against a Waterville squad seeking its first Class B crown.
Junior Rob MacDonald stepped in and was solid early. The teams were scoreless through three innings and Cape Elizabeth appeared looked to be in good shape when it scored three times with two outs in the top of the fourth. Senior Sam St. Germain, junior Cam Brown and senior Kyle Piscopo all had clutch hits to make it 3-0, but the Purple Panthers bounced right back.
In the bottom of the fourth, Waterville got a three-run blast from Tim Locke (not the last time we’ll hear from him) to tie the score, then a two-run single from Sam Nashed to take a 5-3 lead.
After the Capers failed to score in the top of the fifth, the Purple Panthers got some separation in the bottom half as Locke led off with a second home run, Nashed drove in two more runs with a double and eventually scored on an error to make it 9-3.
To its credit, Cape Elizabeth didn’t quit. The Capers got a two-run double from Brown (three hits) in the sixth to make it 9-5. That’s as close as they would get, however, and the season came to an end.
“We are certainly feeling a mix of emotions right now,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Hayward. “The disappointment of coming so close, yet short, holds a lot of sting. Over time, we’ll hold the memories of the three wins through the Western Maine playoffs, each nailbiters that gave us the chance to display the experience and composure gained over the years together. Six of the seniors tasted varsity experience from their freshman year.
“(Saturday), we mixed together a couple too many walks and errors to overcome. Credit Waterville for timely hitting and fielding. Their rightfielder made a diving catch to end the top of the first and their third baseman made several excellent plays.”
St. Germain also had three hits, while Piscopo finished with two.
Even in the wake of the setback, it’s hard to classify the season as anything short of a resounding success.
“I’m proud of the entire team playing baseball the Cape way,” Hayward said. “We stand for commitment, community and character. Commit to what you are doing at the time and to team goals. Make the community proud with our play and be involved with the community. Display character at all times, win with grace, lose with dignity. Regardless of the record, if my players are able to follow this creed, I will be proud of what we do.”
Cape Elizabeth figures to come back strong in 2011 and is bound to finish the job very soon.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org