Cape baseball opens with a solid win

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Cape Elizabeth senior starting pitcher Nate Ingalls delivers a strike during the Capers’ 6-1 win over Kennebunk in Saturday’s regular season opener. 

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 6 Kennebunk 1

K- 000 001 0- 1 4 2
CE- 200 004 x- 6 5 1

Bottom 1st
Tinsman singled to right, Ingalls scored. Tinsman scored on Riggle’s squeeze bunt.

Top 6th
Kosmala tripled to right, Aiken scored.

Bottom 6th
Roberts homered to center, Roberts scored. Hewitt singled to center, Riggle scored. Sullivan scored on error. Hewitt scored on fielder’s choice. 

Repeat hitter:
K- Smith 3

Runs:
K- Smith
CE- Hewitt, Ingalls, Riggle, Roberts, Sullivan, Tinsman

RBI:
K- Kosmala
CE- Hewitt, Riggle, Roberts, Tinsman

Triple:
K- Kosmala

Home run:
CE- Roberts

Stolen bases:
CE- Roberts 2, Bowe, Ingalls

Left on base:
K- 7
CE- 4

Aiken and Jarowicz; Ingalls, Tinsman (6) and Tinsman, Riggle (6)

K:
Aiken (L, 0-1) 6 IP 5 H 6 R 3 ER 2 BB 8 K 2 WP 3 HBP

CE:
Ingalls (W, 1-0) 5.1 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 5 K 2 HBP
Tinsman (Save) 1.2 IP 1 H 0 R 3 K

Time: 1:43 

CAPE ELIZABETH—For 10 months, Cape Elizabeth’s baseball team has stewed over its controversial regional final loss to Greely and bided its time.

Saturday morning, the Capers got to start fresh and they reminded everyone why they’re so highly touted this spring.

Hosting Kennebunk at Holman Field, Cape Elizabeth took an early 2-0 lead when senior pitcher Nate Ingalls scored on a single by sophomore catcher Brendan Tinsman and Tinsman came home on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by senior third baseman Matt Riggle. 

Ingalls made that advantage hold up until the sixth when he surrendered a one-out, run-scoring triple.

With the tying run 90 feet away, Tinsman came on in relief and threw six pitches, all strikes, to allow the Capers to escape the jam.

Cape Elizabeth then ended all doubt in the bottom half, as senior shortstop Dylan Roberts led off with a home run to dead center, senior first baseman Bryce Hewitt added an RBI single and the Capers added runs on an error and a bunt and Tinsman slammed the door on a 6-1 victory.

Cape Elizabeth allowed just four hits and had six different players score as it won its opener for the first time since 2013.

“These guys are excited, they’re motivated,” Capers coach Andy Wood said. “The captains have them together. I know they’re hungry. We were excited for the season to start. We have a very good team.” 

On a mission

Last spring, the Capers won 14 games and led Greely by a run for most of the teams’ Western B Final, but after a controversial safe call at first base allowed the Rangers to tie the score, Greely pushed two runs across in the eighth to end Cape Elizabeth’s season in agony, 3-1.

The Capers return a lot of key members from that team and rest assured, they haven’t forgotten what happened back in June.

Kennebunk, which plays a Western Maine Conference regular season schedule then faces Class A competition in the playoffs, went 11-5 in 2015, but was upset by Biddeford in the preliminary round. The Rams opened with a 7-5 victory at Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday.

Last spring, the teams split, with the Rams winning in Kennebunk, 6-5, and Cape Elizabeth prevailing at home, 4-1.

Saturday, on a cloudy and windy, but pleasantly warm (57 degrees) morning and early afternoon, the Capers led from start to the finish, but there were some scary moments.

Ingalls impressed early, striking out second baseman Derek Smith and centerfielder Justin Wiggins and after Aiken reached on a throwing error by junior second baseman Pat Macdonald, he got shortstop Ryan Coughlan to fly out to right.

Ingalls got the fun started in the bottom half by walking on four pitches. He then stole second and after senior leftfielder Jack O’Rourke looked at strike three, Tinsman ripped a single to right-center, scoring Ingalls with the game’s first run. Tinsman took second when rightfielder Ian Connors mishandled the ball and went to third on an Aiken wild pitch. Roberts was hit by a pitch and stole second, setting the stage for Riggle. With Tinsman breaking for home, Riggle laid down a bunt in front of the plate and while Aiken threw Riggle out at first, Tinsman scored on the suicide squeeze to make it 2-0. Macdonald grounded out back to the mound, but the damage was done.

“That was big for Nate to get on and score and then we got the squeeze,” Wood said.

Ingalls worked out of a self-created jam in the second.

He caught first baseman Zander Kosmala looking leading off and got designated hitter Jack Kiley to ground out to short, then hit leftfielder Thomas Wildes with a pitch, then did the same to third baseman Nate Lapointe. Ingalls then rediscovered his touch and struck out Connors.

“I felt really good getting out on the mound,” Ingalls said. “I got into it. Those runs were big. When you pitch with a lead, you feel like you can do a lot more.”

Aiken settled down in the bottom of the second, fanning junior designated hitter Marshal Peterson and Hewitt. After rightfielder Sean Agrodnia walked on a 3-2 pitch and sophomore pinch-runner Finn Bowe stole second, Aiken got Ingalls to ground back to the mound.

Smith led off the third with Kennebunk’s first hit, a single to left-center, but Wiggins grounded into a force out, Aiken did the same and Ingalls picked off Aiken to end the frame.

O’Rourke got robbed by Smith leading off the bottom half, as the second baseman made a nice play going to his right to field the ball before throwing on to first for the out. After Tinsman also bounced out to second, Roberts was hit by a pitch for the second time. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch, but Aiken escaped further damage by catching Riggle looking at strike three.

Ingalls had his best inning in the fourth, getting Coughlan to line to center, Kosmala to line back to the mound on a 3-2 pitch and Kiley to fly out to left.

In the bottom half, Macdonald grounded out to short, but Peterson reached on a single between shortstop and third. Aiken then struck out Hewitt and got Agrodnia to fly out to left.

The Rams threatened in the fifth, but couldn’t score.

After Wildes flew out to right, Lapointe walked on a 3-2 pitch. After Ingalls fanned pinch-hitter Bryan Hickey, Smith singled to left to put the tying runs on base, but Wiggins grounded back to Ingalls to end the frame.

The Capers went in order in the bottom half, as Ingalls grounded out to first, O’Rourke looked at strike three and Tinsman popped out to third.

Kennebunk finally got to Ingalls in the top of the sixth.

Aiken walked leading off and after Coughlan moved him to second with a bunt, Kosmala crushed a ball over Agrodnia’s head in right. Aiken came all the way around to score and Kosmala didn’t stop until steaming into third base with a triple.

Just like that, the previously dormant Rams were on the verge of drawing even.

Wood yanked Ingalls in favor of Tinsman (Ingalls went to centerfield and Riggle moved behind the plate).

Tinsman didn’t try and fool anyone, he just reared back and threw fast and both Kiley and Wildes couldn’t make contact. Both struck out on three pitches and Cape Elizabeth clung to a 2-1 lead.

“I just went in there and tried to throw strikes,” Tinsman said. “My catcher wanted me to throw a couple curves, but I just pumped it by them. If they hit it, I would change, but they didn’t hit it. This year, I’m going to be more of the closer and come in in situations like that.” 

“That was really clutch,” Ingalls said. “He came in after catching for six innings. He came in and threw straight heat. To watch strike after strike, that was really impressive.”

“Brendan’s a strikeout pitcher and he gave us what we wanted,” Wood added. “He was huge.”

The Capers then put it away in the bottom of the sixth.

Roberts returned momentum to his dugout leading off, as he made solid contact on a Aiken fastball and with the wind blowing out (a rarity at Holman Field), the ball sailed over Wiggins’ head and the centerfield wall to make it 3-1 Cape Elizabeth.

“I’d been hit by a pitch the first two at-bats, so I was a little anxious,” Roberts said. “It’s rare when the wind blows out here. I knew if I kept my hands back, maybe I could hit it. I was ready for it. I knew it was gone when I hit it. It felt good. It gave us momentum.”

“That got us really fired up,” Tinsman said. “We know what he can do. He’s going to have a good season.” 

“That was big-time from a senior,” Wood added. “We needed that extra run.”

Riggle popped up, but the ball got lost in the wind and landed for a single. After Macdonald struck out, Peterson was hit by a pitch and was replaced by pinch-runner Carson Sullivan. 

Hewitt came up with the next big hit, a single to center, scoring Riggle. When Wiggins’ throw home was off the mark and went out of play, Sullivan was allowed to score and Hewitt went to third. Agrodnia then bunted in front of the plate. He was thrown out, but Hewitt made a dash for the plate and beat the throw. Ingalls struck out looking, but the Capers were in command, 6-1.

Tinsman picked up where he left off when he took the mound for the seventh, getting Lapointe to ground out to short and Hickey to look at strike three. Smith kept hope alive with a single down the rightfield line, but Tinsman ended the game 1 hour, 43 minutes after it started by inducing a ground ball back to the mound off the bat of Wiggins to clinch the 6-1 victory.

Ingalls earned his first victory of the spring by allowing one earned run on three hits in 5.1 innings. He walked two and hit two while striking out five.

“(Nate) was hitting his spots well,” Tinsman said. “His off-speed pitches were great. For a first outing of the year, he looked good.”

“We were planning on starting Marshal, but he’s been diagnosed with tendinitis, so we shut him down for a week,” Wood said. “Nate’s the captain and he wanted the ball. He came out and pitched like he did last year.”

Tinsman got the save, allowing just one hit in 1.2 scoreless innings. He fanned three.

“Our pitching staff is phenomenal,” Roberts said. “Nate shut them down and Tinsman throwing six pitches, two strikeouts in a tight situation, that just shows we know how to perform.”

Offensively, Hewitt, Ingalls, Riggle, Roberts, Sullivan and Tinsman all scored. Hewitt, Riggle, Roberts and Tinsman had RBI. Roberts stole two bases, while Bowe and Ingalls each had one. The Capers left four runners on base.

Kennebunk got three hits from Smith, who also scored his team’s lone run. Kosmala had the RBI. The Rams stranded seven runners.

Aiken took the loss. He gave up six runs (three earned) on five hits in six innings. Aiken struck out eight batters, but he walked two, hit three batters and threw two wild pitches.

Road gets tougher

Kennebunk seeks to bounce back Monday, but it won’t be easy as highly touted Falmouth pays a visit. The Rams go to Lake Region Wednesday, then welcome Cape Elizabeth for a rematch Friday.

The Capers have a challenging week upcoming, to say the least. After playing at York Monday, they host Falmouth Wednesday, then go to Kennebunk Friday.

This team believes it’s destined for something special and expects to keep getting better.

“I love our chances,” Tinsman said. “We have our pitching back and our lineup’s good. We’ll just go out there and I feel good about it.”

“We think about (last year) every single day,” Roberts said. “We talk about it in practice. It gives us more fire. We really want it this year. I think we can do it.”

“It feels so good to get back at it,” Ingalls said. “Hopefully we’ll have a lot more games like this. We think about last year a lot. We have the talent to get back to that point. We know the plays we have to make. We’re really hungry.”

“Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Finn Bowe steals second base while Kennebunk shortstop Ryan Coughlan takes the throw.

Cape Elizabeth rightfielder Sean Agrodnia tries to avoid a high and tight pitch.

Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Riggle tags out Kennebunk pitcher Eric Aiken.

Cape Elizabeth second baseman Pat Macdonald tries to turn a double play.

Cape Elizabeth senior shortstop Dylan Roberts dives safely back into first base. Roberts later hit a key home run.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.