Cape Elizabeth senior catcher Brendan Tinsman applies a tag on Greely junior Connor Sullivan during the rivals’ battle Monday afternoon. The Capers scored three times in the 13th inning to beat the Rangers, 4-1.
John Ewing / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
CE- 000 001 000 000 3- 4 4 0
G- 000 001 000 000 0- 1 11 3
Agrodnia reached on infield single, Murphy scored.
Kiesow singled to center, Miller scored.
Murphy scored on fielder’s choice. Bowe scored on throwing error. Tinsman scored on Sullivan squeeze bunt.
G- Miller, Neleski 3, Sullivan
CE- Murphy 2, Bowe, Tinsman
CE- Agrodnia, Sullivan
G- Miller, Neleski
Left on base:
Agrodnia, Sullivan (6) and Tinsman; Neleski, Kiesow (9), Cyr (13) and Smith
Agrodnia 5.1 IP 7 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 3 K 1 HBP
Sullivan (W, 1-0) 7.2 IP 4 H 0 R 3 BB 6 K
Neleski 8 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 4 BB 6 K 1 HBP
Kiesow (L, 0-1) 4.1 IP 2 H 3 R 0 ER 1 BB 5 K
Cyr 0.2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K
CUMBERLAND—And you thought last Monday was Marathon Monday.
Monday afternoon at Twin Brook Recreation Center, Cape Elizabeth and Greely added another memorable chapter to their epic rivalry.
The longest chapter yet.
And on a day where hits and runs were at a premium, the Capers proved that they were capable of taking advantage of any opportunity to prevail.
In a rematch of last year’s playoff thriller, Cape Elizabeth could do nothing with Rangers junior starting pitcher Will Neleski early, as Neleski retired the first nine Capers he faced and didn’t allow a hit through five innings.
Cape Elizabeth senior starter Sean Agrodnia was Neleski’s equal, thanks in large part to some terrific defense.
In the bottom of the third, Capers senior shortstop Finn Bowe leaped to snag a line drive off the bat of Greely senior rightfielder Luke Miller to end a threat.
In the fourth, a base hit from junior designated hitter Connor Sullivan sent senior pinch-runner Matt Strout heading for home, but Cape Elizabeth junior centerfielder, Jameson Bakke, after stumbling and falling to his knees, fired a strike to the plate for the third out to keep the game scoreless.
Each team finally broke through in the sixth.
In the top half, with two outs, Agrodnia beat out an infield hit to score senior second baseman Val Murphy.
The Rangers roared back in their half, as Miller singled, Neleski doubled and senior third baseman Eben Kiesow delivered a game-tying base hit.
Capers senior Carson Sullivan came on to get out of the jam and Greely would never touch home plate again.
Neleski kept the game deadlocked, 1-1, through eight innings before he was replaced by Kiesow.
Neither team could break through until the game went to the top of the 13th inning and darkness loomed.
There, Murphy led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Bowe appeared to pop up for the second out, but catcher’s interference was called on Rangers junior catcher Aiden Smith allowing Bowe to reach safely. Senior catcher Brendan Tinsman was walked intentionally and Agrodnia followed with a ground ball to short which led to a wild throw and two runs scoring. A Sullivan squeeze bunt plated another run.
In the bottom half, Sullivan ended all doubt by setting Greely down in order and Cape Elizabeth, after nearly three grueling hours, had a 4-1 victory.
The Capers improved to 2-0 on the young season and handed the Rangers a loss in their first countable contest.
“It was an unreal game to be a part of,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Andy Wood. “We’re extremely fortunate to come out with a win. It’s good baseball every time we come here. I get up for it and I know the guys look forward to it. We know (Greely will) always compete. They’re loud on every pitch. It usually comes down to something little.”
Last June 8, Cape Elizabeth edged Greely in a quarterfinal round playoff thriller to take three games from the Rangers in the same season for the first time since 2010. The Capers then lost to eventual state champion Yarmouth in the semifinals.
While Greely was hard-hit by graduation, Cape Elizabeth came into the 2018 season viewed as the favorite and opened with a 13-3, six-inning victory over visiting Leavitt Friday. The Rangers were supposed to host Wells in their opener April 12, but poor field conditions postponed that game until Tuesday.
This rivalry has been as close as can be over the past 15 seasons. Entering play Monday, the Capers held a 19-18 edge in games contested dating to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below).
This time around, in a game that began under glorious sunshine (57 degrees with a minimal wind at first pitch) and ended in shadow, Cape Elizabeth found a way to beat Greely for the fourth straight time.
Once again, by the thinnest of margins.
Neleski was sharp early, getting Bowe to line softly to short, Tinsman to pop out to Kiesow at third in foul ground and Agrodnia to bounce out to short.
Agrodnia set the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the bottom half, as sophomore shortstop Nick Butler bounced out back to the mound, senior second baseman A.J. Eisenhart grounded out to short and Miller popped out to second.
In the top of the second, Sullivan and Bakke each grounded out to short, with Butler making a nice play on a tough short-hop to get Bakke. Senior rightfielder Ryan Weare then grounded back to the mound to end it.
In the bottom half, Neleski led off with a sharp single down the leftfield line, but he was stranded, as senior first baseman Nate Cyr flew out deep to center, Kiesow grounded into a third-to-second force out and after Kiesow stole second, junior leftfielder Will Lyden chased strike three.
In the top of the third, Neleski got junior first baseman Alec Riggle to ground out on a slow roller to third, Murphy to line out to right and senior leftfielder Cooper Hoffman to strike out swinging.
Greely nearly took the lead in the bottom of the frame, but couldn’t break through.
Connor Sullivan led off with a single to center and junior centerfielder Evan Wyman reached on a bunt single. Butler sacrificed the runners over, but Eisenhart’s ground ball to third resulted in Sullivan being thrown out at home and a rocket off the bat of Miller wound up in the glove of a leaping Bowe to keep the Rangers off the board.
“That was a huge play by Finn,” Wood said. “I thought that was a hit off the bat.”
Bowe drew a walk on a full count pitch leading off the fourth, but Tinsman struck out. Bowe moved up to second when Smith’s attempted pickoff throw got away, but Agrodnia popped out to short and Carson Sullivan struck out swinging.
Greely had a great chance to break the ice in the bottom half, but again, Cape Elizabeth’s defense came up huge.
Neleski was plunked by an Agrodnia pitch leading off. Strout came in to pinch-run and after Cyr struck out, Strout took second on a sacrifice bunt from Kiesow. Lyden drew a walk on four pitches and Connor Sullivan followed with a single to center. With Strout racing for home, Bakke fielded the ball, but stumbled and went down to his knees, but he recovered and came up throwing and delivered an absolute strike to Tinsman, who tagged out Strout to end the threat.
“Jameson made a great play after going to his knees,” said Wood. “I thought (the runner) was going to be safe. He surprised me on the throw.”
Neleski returned to his dominant ways in the top of the fifth, getting Bakke to fly out to right, Weare to ground out to second with the pitcher covering and Riggle to fly out to right.
In the bottom half, Agrodnia got Wyman to bounce out to second, Butler to ground out to short (with Bowe making another terrific play, going into the hole before delivering a powerful throw) and Eisenhart to chase strike three.
Cape Elizabeth then found a way to push a run across in the top of the sixth.
Murphy started the frame by being hit by a Neleski pitch in the back. Hoffman sacrificed Murphy to second and he took third when Bowe bounced back to Neleski. Tinsman, the Wake Forest University-bound standout, was walked intentionally, leaving it up to Agrodnia, who hit a slow grounder to Butler at short and Agrodnia beat the throw for an infield single and a 1-0 lead. Tinsman would be picked off second, but the damage was done.
Greely managed to tie the game and chase Agrodnia in the bottom half.
Miller led off with an infield single to the hole between third and short. Neleski then pounded a fastball over Bakke’s head in center and his double moved Miller to third. Cyr couldn’t plate the run, as he bounced out to first, but Kiesow came through in the clutch, lining a single to center to score the run and put runners at first and third.
That was it for Agrodnia, who was replaced by Carson Sullivan.
Sullivan got Lyden to ground back to him for the second out, putting runners at second and third. After Connor Sullivan walked on a full count pitch to load the bases, senior pinch-hitter Jack Libby struck out swinging to keep the score 1-1.
“I didn’t expect to pitch when I heard Sean was starting, but I tried to be ready,” Carson Sullivan said. “I just threw like I was starting. I just did what I always do, throw strikes and try to keep the ball low. My fastball and curve were there.”
It would be seven more innings until the tie would be broken.
In the top of the seventh, Carson Sullivan struck out looking and Bakke struck out swinging, but senior pinch-hitter Zachaois Fitz drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Junior Cole Hoffman came on to run, but he’d be stranded as Riggle grounded out to third.
The Rangers got a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t end the game.
Carson Sullivan got Butler to fly out to left and Eisenhart to fly out to right, but Miller blooped a single to center and Neleski followed with a single to the hole between third and short. Cyr then made contact, but flew out to center and the contest went to extra innings.
Cape Elizabeth threatened in the top of the eighth, as after Murphy lined out to short on a 3-2 pitch and Cooper Hoffman grounded slowly to third, Bowe beat out a single to third and went to second when the throw went off Cyr’s glove, but Neleski struck out Agrodnia, his final hitter, to keep the game deadlocked.
In the bottom half, Kiesow struck out swinging, Lyden bounced out to second and after Connor Sullivan walked on a full count pitch and was replaced by sophomore Harry McFarland, Carson Sullivan got Wyman to ground into a short-to-second force out.
Kiesow came on to pitch in the ninth and his side-arm motion gave the Capers fits.
Kiesow got Carson Sullivan to ground out to second, Bakke to bounce out to Neleski, who had moved over to first base, and Cole Hoffman to pop out to second.
The top of the Rangers’ order came up in the bottom half, but couldn’t generate anything, as Butler fouled out to Tinsman in foul territory, Eisenhart bounced out to third and Miller struck out swinging.
The game went to the 10th inning, the first time in two years that Cape Elizabeth played so long and the first time in eight years that Greely played more than nine innings.
The top of the 10th saw Riggle bounce out to second, Murphy line out to Butler, who made a terrific diving catch, and Cooper Hoffman pop out foul to junior Jacob Whiting, who had replaced Kiesow at third.
Carson Sullivan made quick work of the Rangers in the bottom half, getting Neleski to ground out to third, Whiting to fly out deep to center and Kiesow to fly out to center as well.
Kiesow fanned Bowe and Tinsman to start the 11th, but Agrodnia lined a double down the leftfield line. Kiesow stranded him, striking out Sullivan swinging.
In the bottom half, Lyden popped out to short and Connor Sullivan struck out, but Wyman singled to right before Butler looked at strike three.
In the top of the 12th, Kiesow struck out Bakke swinging and after getting Cole Hoffman to bunt into an out back to the mound, Kiesow fanned Riggle swinging.
Greely had a chance to end it in the bottom half, as after Eisenhart looked at strike three, Miller doubled off Bakke’s glove in center and Neleski was walked intentionally. That brought out Whiting, who grounded back to Sullivan, who threw to third base for the force out. Kiesow had a chance to win it, but he too grounded back to the mound and the game went to the 13th inning.
There, Cape Elizabeth did what it took to push three runs across.
Murphy got the fun started with a single to right-center.
“Any at-bat, I just try to get on, especially hitting at the bottom of the order,” Murphy said.
“Val got us going from the 8 hole today,” Wood said. “He got it done when the top of the order wasn’t. It’s a nice confidence-booster for him. He’s a captain and he was awesome today.”
After Cooper Hoffman sacrificed Murphy to second, Bowe appeared to pop out to second, but Smith was called for interference, the out was taken off the board and Bowe took first base. Tinsman once again was walked intentionally and the Capers had the bases loaded with one out.
Agrodnia hit a ground ball to Butler at short. With Murphy breaking for the plate, Butler threw home for the force out, but his throw short-hopped the plate and got past Smith, allowing Murphy to score and Bowe to come home as well, as Tinsman went to third and Agrodnia took second.
That ended Kiesow’s stint on the mound, as he was replaced by Cyr.
Cyr was greeted by a squeeze bunt from Carson Sullivan, which brought Tinsman home.
“Coach talked to me really quick and just told me to do a squeeze,” said Sullivan. “We got another run.”
“At that point, the sun was going down and we wanted another run,” Wood said. “He got it done.”
Sullivan was thrown out at first on the play and Agrodnia tried to come around and score as well, but he was gunned down at home to end the inning, but not before Cape Elizabeth had a three-run lead.
Carson Sullivan didn’t give Greely any hope of coming back in the bottom half, getting Lyden to fly out to center, Connor Sullivan to pop out to first and Wyman to ground out to third.
After 2 hours and 57 minutes, the Capers celebrated their 4-1 victory.
“I’ve never been in a game like this,” Carson Sullivan said. “It was a mix of exhaustion and exhilaration.”
“It was a long one for sure,” Murphy said. “We just tried to get a run on the board. We got a little fatigued, but I have to tip my cap to our pitchers and our defense. To go 13 innings and keep it as tight as it was is really special. Any time we play Greely or Yarmouth or York, we have that playoff mindset and we try to get a win any way we can.”
Cape Elizabeth’s offense, as it was, was paced by Agrodnia’s two hits. Murphy scored twice and Bowe and Tinsman each touched home once. Agrodnia and Sullivan had RBI. The Capers stranded six runners.
Agrodnia didn’t earn a decision after giving up one earned run on seven hits in 5.1 innings. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out three.
Sullivan earned the victory after pitching 7.2 scoreless innings. Sullivan gave up four hits and walked three while striking out six batters.
“We struggled with the bats today, but to only give up one run in 13 innings is huge,” said Wood. “I’m very happy with how we pitched. Carson threw 95 pitches after Sean threw 75. That was a huge positive.”
Greely had 11 hits, including three apiece from Miller and Neleski. Miller scored the lone run and Kiesow had the RBI. The Rangers stranded 13 runners.
Neleski didn’t earn a decision after giving up one run on two hits in eight innings. He walked four, struck out six and hit a batter.
Kiesow deserved better, but took the loss after surrendering three unearned runs on two hits in 4.1 innings of work. He walked one and fanned five.
Cyr went two-thirds of an inning and didn’t allow a hit or run.
“I thought for 12 innings, we had more chances,” Greely coach Derek Soule said. “We should have scored more runs with the opportunities we had, but for the first game after not having much of a preseason, I thought it was a really good game. The pitching and defense were really good considering neither team has been outside much. I’m encouraged with our competitiveness, especially having so many new varsity guys. I was pleased with the pitching and defense and we had good at-bats, we just didn’t cash in.”
The loss was Greely’s longest game since a 2-1, 11-inning home victory over York on May 22, 2010.
It wasn’t the first time the Rangers have gone 13 innings, however.
“I believe 12 innings is the most I’ve been a part of, but I know there was a 13-inning game in 1969 between York and Greely that wound up tied, 1-1,” Soule said.
The teams will meet a second time May 25 in Cape Elizabeth and perhaps a third time in the postseason.
“Both teams will be swinging better at the end of the year,” Soule said.
In the meantime, both squads have work to do.
The Rangers host Wells in a makeup game Tuesday, welcome Yarmouth Wednesday and go to Gray-New Gloucester Friday.
“According to a lot of people, we have the three top teams right in a row to start,” Soule said. “The way we competed today is a good sign.”
The Capers are back in action Friday when Fryeburg Academy pays a visit. They’ll enjoy the break after playing nearly the equivalent of a doubleheader Monday.
“We have a long way to go,” Wood said. “We have a lot to practice. We need to hit better.”
Cape Elizabeth senior starter Sean Agrodnia delivers a pitch.
Greely junior starter Will Neleski delivers a strike.
Cape Elizabeth senior catcher Brendan Tinsman tags out Greely senior Matt Strout early in the contest.
Greely senior Eben Kiesow reaches base safely.
Cape Elizabeth senior captain Val Murphy exults after scoring the game’s first run.
Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Greely 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (8)
Class B South quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Greely 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 4
Greely 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 0
Western B Final
Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1 (8)
@ Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 1
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (8)
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 4
@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 0
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Greely 6
Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Greely 4 (9)
Cape Elizabeth 7 Greely 4 (@ OOB)
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 5
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 2
Western B semifianls
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3 (8)
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Greely 3
Western B semifinals
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (10)
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Greely 1
Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 11 Cape Elizabeth 10
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 1
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 6
Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 13 Cape Elizabeth 3 (5)