Cape Elizabeth junior Alec Riggle leaps into the celebratory mass after the Capers’ 4-3 win over visiting Yarmouth Monday.
Brianna Soukop / Portland Press Herald photos.
Y- 000 030 0- 3 11 1
CE- 200 001 1- 4 7 1
One out when winning run scored.
Bowe walked, Tinsman scored. Weare scored on wild pitch.
Romano doubled to center, Lainey and Waeldner scored. Caruso singled to right-center, Romano scored.
Bowe scored on error.
Agrodnia singled to left, Bakke scored.
Y- Norton, Romano, Waaler
CE- Bakke, Tinsman
Y- Lainey, Romano, Waeldner
CE- Bakke, Bowe, Tinsman, Weare
Y- Romano 2, Caruso
CE- Agrodnia, Bowe
Y- Morrill, Romano
CE- Bakke, Tinsman
CE- Tinsman 2, Bakke
Left on base:
Belesca, Lainey (1) and Waaler; Agrodnia, Bakke (5), Bowe (6) and Tinsman
Belesca 0.2 IP 1 H 2 R 2 ER 2 BB 1 K 1 HBP
Lainey (L, 0-1) 5.2 IP 6 H 2 R 1 ER 4 BB 0 K 3 WP 1 HBP
Agrodnia 4.2 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 4 K 2 HBP 1 WP
Bakke 1.0 IP 3 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K
Bowe (W 1-0) 1.1 IP 2 H 0 R 1 BB 0 K
CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s baseball team has lost three times in the late innings over the past week-plus.
Monday afternoon at Holman Field, the Capers turned the tables.
Hosting rival and defending Class B state champion Yarmouth in a pivotal late-season contest, Cape Elizabeth got pushed to the brink, but rose off the deck and earned a possibly season-altering victory.
The Capers appeared bound for a decisive win when they scored twice in the bottom of the first, as Clippers senior starter Ethan Belesca walked senior shortstop Finn Bowe with the bases loaded and after he was pulled for sophomore Jason Lainey, Lainey’s wild pitch put the hosts up, 2-0.
Lainey kept Yarmouth in the game from there and while the Clippers’ offense was continually frustrated by hitting the ball sharply but right at fielders, the visitors finally broke through in the top of the fifth.
With two on and two out, junior centerfielder Jack Romano hit a ball to deep center that Cape Elizabeth senior Cooper Hoffman misplayed for a game-tying double. Senior third baseman Jackson Caruso followed with an RBI single and Yarmouth had a 3-2 advantage.
It only lasted until the bottom of the sixth, as Bowe, who took over on the mound in the top half and escaped a jam, singled, worked his way to third and scored on a throwing error.
The Clippers were poised to go back on top in the top of the seventh, as they loaded the bases with one out and senior designated hitter Dom Morrill hit a fly ball to medium-deep center, but Hoffman redeemed himself, gunning down the go-ahead runner at the plate and the contest went to the fateful bottom of the seventh.
There, junior Jameson Bakke led off with a double and one out later, after senior catcher Brendan Tinsman and senior leftfielder Ryan Weare were walked intentionally, senior Sean Agrodnia, Cape Elizabeth’s starting pitcher, brought a dramatic end to the proceedings with an RBI single and the Capers prevailed, 4-3.
Cape Elizabeth swept the season series with Yarmouth, improved to 9-4 and dropped the Clippers to 7-6 in the process.
“All-around, it was a great-played game,” said Capers coach Andy Wood. “It seems like it always is when we play them. We rode the highs and the lows. It was a fun game to watch. I tip my cap to the guys to be able to battle back.”
The teams met just 12 days ago in Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth needed nine innings to prevail, 2-1. That decision gave each teams 14 victories in the series dating to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below).
While the Capers and Clippers have each had their ups-and-downs this spring, sometimes on consecutive days, they’re both very much in the mix in a wide-open Class B South.
Yarmouth held off 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, 7-3, and at home in nine-innings to Cape Elizabeth (2-1). Yarmouth then turned things around with a 6-0 victory at Lake Region and went on to enjoy home victories over St. Dom’s (9-3) and Greely (3-2) before losing at Freeport, 4-2. After edging visiting Gray-New Gloucester Friday (2-1), the Clippers lost at Gardiner Saturday, 3-1.
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 with a 3-0 home loss to Freeport. Cape Elizabeth then won in extra innings at Yarmouth before dropping an 8-6 home decision to Wells and a 4-2 decision at York. After blanking visiting Poland, 5-0, the Capers fell, 4-2, at Wells Friday.
Monday, on a very pleasant (70 degrees at first pitch) afternoon, Cape Elizabeth got pushed physically and mentally, but saved its best for last for a huge victory.
Agrodnia got Yarmouth senior leftfielder Luke Waeldner to fly out to center leading off, but Waaler singled to left. He’d be stranded, as Agrodnia struck out Romano and got Caruso to bounce back to the mound.
The Capers then grabbed the lead in the bottom half.
Belesca began in promising fashion by getting Bakke, who began the game in rightfield, on a pop out to short and catching senior third baseman Carson Sullivan looking at strike three. Tinsman then hit a ball hard to left that Waeldner got to, but couldn’t haul in and the double got things started. Belesca then hit Weare with a pitch and walked Agrodnia to load the bases. That brought Bowe to the plate and he drew a walk as well, scoring Tinsman for a 1-0 lead.When Belesca threw ball one to junior first baseman Alec Riggle, Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted came bounding out of the dugout to make a pitching change and Lainey came on to throw with junior Toby Burgmaier taking over at second base.
Lainey had an inauspicious beginning, throwing a wild pitch to score Weare. He settled down and got Riggle to ground out to short, but Cape Elizabeth had a 2-0 lead.
Senior first baseman Ben Norton led off the top of the second with a single to left, but in a sign of frustrating things to come, Morrill hit a sharp grounder up the middle only to see Agrodnia snare it, throw to Bowe at short for one out and Bowe throw on to Riggle to complete the double play. Sophomore shortstop Aidan Hickey then struck out swinging to end the frame.
The Capers had a chance to open it up even further in the bottom half, but it would be the Clippers turning a key double play to get out of a jam.
Lainey hit senior second baseman Val Murphy with a pitch leading off and Hoffman sacrificed him to second. Bakke then singled to left to put runners at the corners and after Bakke stole second, Sullivan hit a solid line drive, but it was right at Caruso, who caught the ball for one out and stepped on third to double off Murphy to end the threat.
Yarmouth put a couple runners on in the top of the third, but again couldn’t score.
Lainey grounded to third on the first pitch and Sullivan couldn’t come with it for an error. Lainey was erased by Tinsman trying to steal, but Burgmaier singled down the leftfield line and after Waeldner lined out to right, Waaler was hit by a pitch. Romano had a chance to deliver the runners, but his grounder up the middle was fielded by Bowe, who stepped on second to retire the side.
In the bottom half, Tinsman led off with a sharp single to center on a 3-2 pitch, but Weare lined out to center and after Tinsman stole second, Agrodnia and Bowe both grounded out to Caruso at third.
Caruso started the top of the fourth by popping out foul to third. Norton followed with a single to left-center, but Morrill lined sharply to third and Hickey popped out to short.
In the bottom half, after Riggle checked his swing and grounded out to second, Murphy singled through the hole between short and third, but that threat went by the wayside, as Hoffman grounded to Hickey at short, who made a terrific play going into the hole before throwing to second for one out and runner’s interference resulted in a double play.
Then, in the fifth, the Clippers finally broke through.
Agrodnia hit his opposite number, Lainey, leading off. After Burgmaier struck out on a 3-2 pitch, Waeldner singled to left-center. Waaler watched strike three, but Romano made solid contact and drove the ball deep to center. It appeared initially that Hoffman had a bead on the ball, but he went back and leaped to no avail, as the ball got over his head. Lainey and Waeldner both came home to tie it.
“It should have been caught, I just misread it,” Hoffman said.
That did it for Agrodnia, who was replaced by Bakke.
Bakke’s first pitch was then pounded to right-center by Caruso for a single and Yarmouth had a 3-2 lead.
Norton threatened to open it up even further, but his deep drive to center was run down by Hoffman.
Lainey preserved the lead in the bottom half, but not without some anxious moments.
Lainey retired Bakke on a deep fly ball to left, then got Sullivan to pop out foul to Caruso, who made a nice over-the-shoulder running grab. Tinsman then walked on a 3-2 pitch, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch and Weare walked as well, but on the first pitch, Agrodnia flew out to left.
The Clippers had a great chance to extend their lead in the top of the sixth, but in a strange frame, they couldn’t do so.
Morrill led off with a double the other way, to leftfield. Senior Ben Gleason came on to run, but he couldn’t advance a single base as Hickey singled to center. After Lainey sacrificed the runners up, Burgmaier grounded to Bowe, who booted the ball, but in a fortuitous turn of events, it deflected right to Murphy at second, who threw to first for the out as the runners had to hold. Bowe then came on to pitch and he kept his team within a run by getting Waeldner to ground out to first.
Bowe then played the hero in the bottom half, scoring the tying run.
Bowe led off by bouncing a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch. Riggle sacrificed him to second and when Murphy grounded out to third, Bowe went to third. Norton then tried to throw over to third, hoping to catch Bowe off the bag, but the throw was wild and Bowe came home to make it 3-3.
“They helped us out with the one bad throw to tie it up,” Wood said.
“That’s who we are,” Halsted said. “The way we play will lose us a game and win us two or three a year. I own it. I wanted Ben to throw that ball. That’s not his decision, that’s my decision.”
Hoffman ended the inning with a ground ball to third, but Cape Elizabeth had all the momentum.
The Clippers had a great chance to retake the lead in the top of the seventh, but the defensive gem of the day prevented that from happening.
Waaler led off by reaching on an infield single on a chopper to third. Romano then singled to left. After Caruso sacrificed the runners to second and third, Norton was intentionally walked, bringing Morrill to the plate with the chance to put Yarmouth on top. Morrill did his job, driving the ball to medium center, where Hoffman made the catch. Waaler then tagged up and tried to score, but Hoffman threw a strike to Tinsman at the plate, who easily applied the tag on Waaler to end the frame.
“I knew I had to get behind it and come up firing,” said Hoffman. “I don’t usually make those throws, but it felt good. I was surprised. It was the best feeling all year.”
“That throw was huge,” Agrodnia said. “A little redemption for him, making that throw after having a tough ball earlier in the game. That speaks to the resiliency of our team.”
“Cooper made a great throw,” Wood added. “That was definitely a momentum-builder.”
Even Yarmouth had to tip its cap.
“Just a phenomenal throw,” Halsted said.
Cape Elizabeth’s offense then brought the game to an end in the bottom half.
Bakke got things started with a double to deep left-center.
“That leadoff double put us in a great position,” Wood said.
Sullivan popped out to first, but after Halsted had Tinsman walked intentionally, a wild pitch moved the runners up. Weare was then walked intentionally as well, bringing Agrodnia to the plate.
Yarmouth deployed a five-man infield, hoping to either record a force out at the plate or turn a double play, but Agrodnia rendered it a moot point, by lining a solid single through the hole between short and third and Bakke raced home with the game-winner, giving the Capers a 4-3 victory, setting off a raucous celebration.
“It was easy for me,” said Agrodnia. “Bases loaded, one out. All I had to do was put a ball through the infield. It’s huge. We’ve lost leads in the sixth or seventh inning. To grow as a team and be able to come back after giving up another lead was a big step for us.”
“Momentum was with us,” Hoffman said. “I was just ecstatic when he hit it.”
“We wanted a double play, inning over, and he had to get it past five people,” Halsted said. “He hit it hard. I’ve played against and reffed (in hockey) Sean for seven years. He’s a great competitor. Good for him. He earned it. They deserved it. They’ve had some tough outings. They competed.”
Cape Elizabeth mustered seven hits, as Bakke and Tinsman each produced a pair. Bakke, Bowe, Tinsman and Weare all scored runs. Agrodnia and Bowe drove in runs. Tinsman stole two bases and Bakke stole one.
The Capers left nine runners on base.
Agrodnia got a no decision after giving up three runs on six hits in 4.2 innings. He didn’t walk a batter, but hit two and threw a wild pitch while fanning four.
“I was battling a lot today,” Agrodnia said. “It’s tough when I’m just a one-trick pony with my fastball. My curve just wasn’t there today. To see the other pitchers step up and keep us in the game was great.”
Bakke allowed three hits, but no runs, in an inning of relief.
Bowe improved to 1-0 after a scoreless inning of relief. He surrendered two hits and a walk.
“They were getting to (Sean),” Wood said. “He pitched great except that one inning where we had a fly ball that probably should have been caught. Finn came in and got us out of that big situation. They were jumping on Jameson’s first-pitch fastball and Finn came in and threw a first-pitch curve. That was huge.”
Yarmouth had 11 hits, as Norton, Romano and Waaler each had two. Lainey, Romano and Waeldner scored the Clippers’ runs. Romano had two RBI and Caruso one.
The Clippers left nine runners on base.
Belesca didn’t earn a decision, as he gave up two runs on one hit in two-thirds of an inning. He walked two, hit a batter and struck out one.
Lainey was the hard-luck loser, dropping to 0-1 despite allowing just two runs (only one earned) on five hits in 5.2 innings. He walked four, hit a batter, threw three wild pitches and didn’t record a strikeout.
“Jason is a zone pounder,” Halsted said. “He’s always going to give you a chance to win. He got ahead when he needed to and he competed on the two-ball and three-ball counts. He was awesome.”
Yarmouth wasn’t all that upset about falling short, choosing to take the long view instead.
“We’ll just turn the page on this,” Halsted said. “This was a goalie going 33-for-34 on saves, then giving up a goal one minute into overtime. What are you going to do, blame the goalie? We hit the ball hard 14 times today. We talk about extra 90s and we gave away seven extra 90s before there was an out in the second inning. To only be down 2-0, we were fortunate and we battled back. We hit the ball hard 1 through 9 today. Every kid hit a rocket. That’s baseball.”
Yarmouth (now 10th in the Class B South Heal Points standings) is back in action Wednesday when Wells pays a visit in a pivotal contest. After going to Fryeburg Academy Thursday, the Clippers host Freeport in the finale Monday.
Yarmouth doesn’t care about its final seeding (the Clippers were ninth a year ago when they won it all). Playing its best in June is the biggest concern.
“We’re excited to face (Wells ace) Cam Cousins on Wednesday,” Halsted said. “He’s never lost a game in his high school career. Then we have to drive to Fryeburg, then we play Freeport, a team we have a lot of respect for. Go ahead and pick the final four in Class B South. I wouldn’t dare try. We’re never a high seed. We’d be uncomfortable in the 1 through 5 seed. We’ll finish strong. Can’t wait.”
Cape Elizabeth (second to Wells in Class B South) travels to St. Dom’s Wednesday, then welcomes Greely Friday before closing at Gray-New Gloucester Monday. The Capers have a great chance to leave their midseason struggles behind and still play a couple playoff games at home.
“We want momentum going into the postseason and to keep rolling,” Hoffman said. “We have to keep hitting the ball hard like we did this game and get good pitching and fielding.”
“We’re looking to play our best baseball come June,” Agrodnia said. “If we can clean things up, I think we’ll be fine. We’re struggling at the plate a little bit, but to win like that, it doesn’t get much better.”
“I think Wells has the first seed locked up and we’re 2 or 3,” Wood added. “We’ll focus on getting hot at the right time. This is a big momentum builder for us. The bats are coming alive. If we score three, four runs and get pitching and defense, we’ll be fine.”
Yarmouth senior James Waaler beats out an infield single in the seventh inning as Cape Elizabeth junior first baseman Alec Riggle takes the throw.
Cape Elizabeth senior catcher Brendan Tinsman tags out Yarmouth senior James Waaler to end the top of the seventh inning.
Cape Elizabeth junior Jameson Bakke races to third base prior to scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Cape Elizabeth senior Sean Agrodnia is mobbed by his teammates after his game-winning single.
@ 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