CAPE ELIZABETH — Cam Brown capped a dramatic two-out, two-run rally in the sixth inning with an RBI single as the top-ranked Cape Elizabeth baseball team remained unbeaten with a crucial 6-5 victory over the Greely Rangers in a Western Class B showdown between the rivals on a surprisingly hot and humid Monday afternoon.
Trailing 5-4 with two down in the sixth, the Capers (who defeated Falmouth, Wells, Fryeburg and Gray-New Gloucester with relative ease to start the year) strung together three consecutive singles to pull ahead for good in a rematch of last year’s regional title game won by Greely on the same field.
Brown, a junior, delivered the game-winning RBI, but Cape Elizabeth tied things up with some late-inning heroics from an unlikely source when coach Chris Hayward played a hunch that returned big dividends.
After senior Conor Moloney, the Capers’ starting pitcher, singled to right and stole second base to begin the rally, Hayward summoned first-year player A.J. Frustraci from the bench to pinch-hit after learning the senior’s tendencies at the plate during summer ball.
Facing Greely senior righthander Dan O’Brion, Frustraci dug in from the left side and proved Hayward’s intuition spot-on, lacing a base hit through the hole just past the dive of the Rangers’ first basemen to plate Moloney and tie the game at 5-5.
“We know the type of pitching that A.J. can hit and we saw a couple of holes out there for him,” said Hayward. “It worked out perfect for us. The nice thing about our team this year is everyone can contribute. This is not a nine player team.”
Frustraci was welcomed back to the dugout by the entire Cape Elizabeth team after his first career hit when speedy senior Derek Roberts replaced him on the bases. Roberts advanced all the way to third on consecutive passed balls and scored easily on Brown’s line single to left for a 6-5 lead.
Senior Will Pierce came on for Moloney after the fifth inning and retired all six batters he faced to earn his first career win. Pierce, a righthander, fanned the side with impressive stuff in the top of the seventh, mixing a big bender in with a live fastball to set down the Rangers’ 2, 3, and 4 hitters to close out the game for Cape Elizabeth (5-0).
“We had a deep staff last year so this was my first time pitching for the varsity,” said Pierce (1-0). “I was trying to mix in all my pitches and throw strikes. I didn’t want to get behind any hitters. The last inning happened to be all strikeouts but I trust my fielders and was just trying to throw strikes.”
Moloney, a crafty and experienced lefthander, pitched well enough to win on most days, allowing just four hits and three earned runs over five complete innings. The Capers’ ace struck out five, hit three batters and issued only one walk in his fourth start of the season.
“We have the same approach every time out,” said Moloney (3-0). “Keep the ball down and try and work both corners of the plate. Greely is a good hitting team and a few of my pitches drifted toward the middle of the plate and they turned on them.
“It was tough to watch them celebrate on our field last year after the regional final. It’s nice to get a playoff atmosphere win under our belt early. We’ll be in plenty of close games later in the season so this was sort of like a preview.”
Cape Elizabeth jumped all over O’Brion early with five hits and three runs in the first inning and it looked like they might cruise to any easy win. Senior Sam St. Germain got things going with a sharply hit double down the rightfield line, the only extra base hit for the Capers in the game. The next batter, senior Kyle Piscopo, got extended on a fastball and lined an opposite field single to right that scored St. Germain as the rightfielder bobbled the exchange to his throwing hand. Piscopo went to second on the error and came around to score when junior Rob McDonald grounded to the shortstop ranging left toward the second base bag and reached. Pierce followed with a base hit to center, and senior Tanner Garrity lined an RBI single back up the box to plate McDonald for a 3-0 Cape Elizabeth lead.
But O’Brion settled down and silenced the Capers’ bats through the middle frames, retiring the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings. O’Brion (2-1) finished with 10 strikeouts and coughed up six runs, four of them earned, to go with a pair of walks. Brown’s game-winning RBI in the sixth chased the Greely ace after 5 2/3 innings of gutsy pitching.
Greely (3-1) broke through for a single run in the third on a long double to left by senior Carter Cyr, a nicely executed sacrifice bunt, and an infield error to pull within 3-1.
In the fourth, the Rangers staged a two-out rally of their own to score four runs and take a 5-3 lead on the strength of sophomore Pete Stauber’s two-RBI single and two errors by Cape Elizabeth.
The Capers got one back in the bottom of the fifth when Brown singled for the first time, stole second base and went to third on a passed ball. Germain walked to put runners on the corners with one out, and Brown came in the backdoor when Piscopo grounded to short and beat the throw from the Rangers’ second basemen looking to turn two and escape the jam to make it 5-4 after the fifth.
Cape Elizabeth’s two-out, two-run rally in the sixth earned them a 6-5 win and set the tone for the last game of the regular season (June 2) when the two teams meet again at Greely.
“We don’t look at this game as revenge for last year at all,” said Hayward. “This was a regular season win that helps us get to the playoffs this year.”
Cape Elizabeth hoped to keep rolling Wednesday at Lake Region. The Capers then travel to face Poland on Friday with anticipation building for next Wednesday when they go to unbeaten Yarmouth.