FALMOUTH—After losing games in agonizing fashion a year ago, Cape Elizabeth’s baseball team is learning how to win by any means necessary this spring.
Wednesday afternoon at John M. Croker Memorial Field, the Capers were staring at a 1-2 start as they trailed, 6-3, entering the seventh inning against a Falmouth squad which had beaten them nine straight times, but this year is different and Cape Elizabeth roared back, made a mighty statement and earned a hearty dose of confidence in the process.
Three hits and two walks cut the deficit to one and brought freshman catching sensation Brendan Tinsman to the plate. Tinsman, who hit a prodigious home run earlier in the game, never got a decent pitch to hit and walked to tie the score. That brought up junior pinch-hitter Matt Riggle, who laid down a textbook squeeze bunt and Cape Elizabeth, improbably, had its first lead. Senior second baseman Aaron Dobieski then capped his memorable day with a two-run single to produce two insurance runs and sophomore Marshall Peterson finished off his gutsy effort by escaping a jam in the bottom of the seventh and the Capers stole a 9-6 victory that will pay huge dividends down the road.
Cape Elizabeth improved to 2-1 on the season, dropped the stunned Yachtsmen to 1-1 and reminded the rest of Western Class B that it is back in the hunt.
“It means a lot to the program,” said Capers coach Andrew Wood. “We’ve played two Class A teams and competed with both of them. For the guys, going 2-1 and battling to the end was huge. I don’t know if we deserved to win, but we hung in and got them rattled. I think our guys always fight to the end.”
Both teams have been challenged early.
The Capers opened with a hard-fought 6-5 loss at Kennebunk Saturday, then held on for a 4-3 victory at Yarmouth Monday.
The Yachtsmen blanked visiting York in their opener Monday, 4-0.
Last year, Falmouth beat Cape Elizabeth twice: 3-1 in Cape Elizabeth and 10-0 (in five innings) at home. The Capers lost nine of their final 10 games and missed the playoffs with a 4-12 mark. The Yachtsmen went to the Western A semifinals before losing to Windham to finish 15-3.
Wednesday, on a chilly, overcast day, in other words, April, Cape Elizabeth sought its first victory over Falmouth since May 10, 2011 and despite looking as if it would fall short most of the afternoon, the Capers saved their best for last.
Both Yachtsmen sophomore starter Reece Armitage and Peterson made quick work of the opposition in the first inning.
Armitage needed just seven pitches and less than four minutes to get Cape Elizabeth junior centerfielder Nate Ingalls to fly to left, junior leftfielder Dylan Roberts to pop back to the mound and senior shortstop Tim Brigham to pop out foul to senior catcher Connor MacDowell.
In the bottom half, Peterson was one pitch better, as he got MacDowell to ground back to the mound on the first pitch, sophomore second baseman Colin Coyne to pop foul to senior third baseman Matt Denison, who made a nice play, and junior centerfielder Connor Aube to ground back to the box.
The Capers broke through against Armitage in the second.
Tinsman drew a walk on five pitches and Denison looked at ball four on a 3-2 pitch. After junior first baseman Bryce Hewitt sacrificed the runners up a base, Armitage fanned Peterson on a 3-2 pitch, but Dobieski came through with a clutch single to center, scoring Tinsman with the game’s first run and moving Denison to third. After Dobieski stole second, Armitage ended further damage by getting senior rightfielder Mike Best to strike out.
Peterson protected the lead in the bottom half, as he got sophomore shortstop Robbie Armitage to ground out to second, with Hewitt making a nice scoop at first, Reece Armitage to ground to second and senior third baseman Caleb Lydick to look at strike three.
Reece Armitage returned to form in the third, as he got Ingalls to fly to left, caught Roberts looking at strike three, then ended the inning by inducing Brigham to pop out to shortstop.
Falmouth then got their bats going in the bottom of the frame.
Leading off, junior leftfielder Tyler Gee doubled to left. Senior rightfielder Patrick Horgan followed with a single to center to put runners at the corners. That brought up freshman Colby Emmertz, who hit a slow grounder to third. Gee was going to score regardless, but an errant throw allowed Emmertz to reach and Horgan to move to third. MacDowell followed with a solid single to left, scoring Horgan. The throw came home and Tinsman tried to cut down MacDowell as he took second, but his throw sailed high and Emmertz scored for a 3-1 lead, as MacDowell moved to third. After Coyne grounded out to third with MacDowell holding, Aube lifted a deep fly to right and MacDowell came home with the final run of the inning. Robbie Armitage grounded out to short, but the Yachtsmen had a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead.
Tinsman took center stage in the fourth.
Tinsman, who verbally committed to Wake Forest University prior to ever playing a high school game, worked a full count leading off the inning, then got a hold of a Reece Armitage offering and launched a towering fly to left-center. Gee chased the ball back to the fence, but it cleared the wall, just to the left of the scoreboard, and Tinsman’s first varsity home run cut the deficit to 4-2.
“It was 3-and-2, so I just shortened up,” Tinsman said. “I knew I’d see a fastball. I wasn’t sure if it was gone. I just ran it out. It felt really good.”
Armitage struck out Denison, but that was it for his outing, as Falmouth coach Kevin Winship replaced him with sophomore Max Fortier. Fortier allowed an infield single to Hewitt, but MacDowell threw Hewitt out trying to steal and Peterson flew out to left to end the frame.
In the bottom half, Peterson got Reece Armitage to fly out to left, Lydick to ground out to short and Gee to fly to center.
Fortier protected the lead in the fifth.
After inducing a ground out to third off the bat of Dobieski leading off, Fortier walked Best, but Ingalls grounded out unassisted to Emmertz at first and Roberts flew out to left.
The hosts tacked on two more runs in the bottom half to seemingly put the game away.
Fortier led off with a bloop single and Emmertz was hit by a pitch. After MacDowell sacrificed the runners to second and third, Coyne flew out to left, scoring Fortier, and Aube’s single to left scored Emmertz to make the score 6-2. Aube stole second and took third when Robbie Armitage reached on an error, but Reece Armitage grounded into a force play to end the inning.
The Capers got a run back in the top of the sixth and it was unearned.
Leading off, Brigham reached on a throwing error and went to second. Tinsman popped back to Fortier, but Denison crushed a double to left and Brigham scored to make it 6-3. Hewitt flew out for out number two and senior pinch-hitter Adam Godfrey popped back to Fortier for the third out.
Peterson made quick work of the Yachtsmen in the bottom half, catching Lydick looking at strike three, getting Gee to ground out to short and Horgan to fly out to left.
Aube came on to close out the game in the seventh, but he never registered an out and before those on hand knew what hit them, Cape Elizabeth had completely turned the game around.
Aube had good stuff and was throwing hard, but the Capers set the tone for their dramatic comeback when Dobieski grounded a ball to the right of Robbie Armitage, who was shading toward second, and beat the throw for an infield single.
“As a leadoff hitter, you’re looking for a pitch and you’ll take a walk, but I like to be an aggressive hitter and if I see something in the zone, I’ll swing,” said Dobieski. “Aube’s fast and in the zone and I wanted to get on first.”
When Best followed by singling to right, suddenly the tying run was at the plate.
“Once we got to the top of the order, it was looking up,” Dobieski said. “We know we’re always in it. Regardless of the count, or the score. We always make the plays to get it done.”
Ingalls followed with a single down the leftfield line. Dobieski scored easily, but Wood held up the runners at first and second. Roberts walked to load the bases and Brigham drew a walk to score Best, cutting the deficit to 6-5 and bringing Tinsman up with the bags full and no one out.
Tinsman never got a chance to get the bat off his shoulder, as Aube missed badly on four straight pitches and just like that, Tinsman went to first and Ingalls came home to make it 6-6.
“I thought I’d get a pitch against a hard thrower,” Tinsman said. “I thought he’d come at me, but he was wild. I just watched a few pitches.”
Winship turned to Coyne to relieve and Wood brought Riggle up to hit for Denison. Wood immediately put the squeeze play on and Riggle laid down a nice bunt to the left of Coyne. Coyne came off the mound and tried to throw home for the force out, but the ball arrived after Roberts touched home and Cape Elizabeth led for the first time, 7-6.
“Once (Best) got on, I started to believe,” Wood said. “We had the top of the order coming up and we knew we’d make them throw some pitches. Riggle executed that squeeze to perfection.”
Coyne tried to avoid further damage by getting Hewitt to pop out (with the infield fly rule taking effect) and fanning Peterson looking, but Dobieski continued to haunt Falmouth with a solid single to right-center, as Brigham and Tinsman both scored to push the lead to 9-6.
“It’s always good to have a cushion,” Dobieski said. “Those two RBIs we didn’t need in the end, but they were good to have so we could be more comfortable in the field.”
Best kept the rally alive with a walk, but Ingalls, the 12th hitter of the inning, flew out to center to end it.
“The bottom of the order has been coming through, so I had faith in them,” Tinsman said. “Once we got to the top, we batted around. It felt great.”
Peterson closed out the win, but it wasn’t easy.
After Emmertz lined to right on the first pitch and MacDowell grounded out to short, with Brigham making a nice play, on the first pitch he saw, Coyne kept hope alive with a solid single to left on his first pitch. Coyne stole second and Aube, who wasn’t granted first base when he was hit on the first pitch he saw since he didn’t make an effort to get out of the way, was hit again and this time was awarded first, bringing Robbie Armitage up as the tying run. Armitage made solid contact, sending a one-hopper that appeared to be ticketed for the hole between third and shortstop, but Roberts, who had moved to third, made a nice stab and tagged out Coyne to end the game.
“That ball was struck well,” Wood said. “That was huge for Dylan’s confidence.”
After 115 palpitating minutes of see-saw action, Cape Elizabeth had prevailed, 9-6.
“It was fun,” Tinsman said. “Falmouth’s a really good team, so this gives us momentum.”
“I love playing in great games like this against a phenomenal Class A team,” Dobieski said. “We look forward to playing them every year. This is huge. We knew we had three games away (to start the season). We wanted to come out with one win at least. To get two gets us rolling. We were a little young last year. We’re mature this year, even with our youth. We’re comfortable with our hitting. Last year, we lost a lot of one-run or two-run games, but for us to put nine up tonight is huge.”
The Capers only had one multiple hitter, but naturally, it was Dobieski, who went 3-for-4.
“Aaron’s like (Red Sox second baseman Dustin) Pedroia,” said Wood. “Wherever the ball is pitched, he’ll hit it. He’s a tough out.”
“I have to tip my cap to Dobieski,” Winship said. “I swear he’s batting .900 against us. We can’t get him out. We throw it in the dirt and he hits it. We throw it over his head and he hits it. He came up big for them. He was the difference. He just puts the bat on the ball and hits it where we’re not.”
Tinsman scored three runs, Brigham had two and Best, Dobieski, Ingalls and Roberts all touched home once. Dobieski also had three RBI, while Tinsman drove in two and Brigham, Denison, Ingalls and Riggle had one apiece.
Peterson delivered a gritty effort, earning his first win after allowing six runs (just three earned) on six hits in seven innings. He struck out two and hit two batters.
“Marshall pitched awesome,” Wood said. “He got ahead of a lot of batters. He deserved to win.”
Falmouth got two runs from Emmertz and one each from Fortier, Gee, Horgan and MacDowell. Aube had two RBI, while Coyne, Emmertz and MacDowell each drove in one.
Reece Armitage surrendered two runs on two hits and two walks in his 3.1-inning stint. He fanned four. Fortier gave up one unearned run on two hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. Aube didn’t retire any of the six hitters he faced and took the loss. He gave up three hits and three walks. Coyne didn’t give up a run in his inning of work. He did surrender a hit and a walk and struck out one.
“It got away,” Winship lamented. “(Cape) did what they needed to do to win the game. We didn’t do anything wrong, they just did what they needed to. They got key hits when they needed them.”
Falmouth is back in action Friday at Freeport. The Yachtsmen go to Fryeburg Academy Monday and return home Wednesday of next week to face Gray-New Gloucester. The Yachtsmen will quickly rid themselves of the after-effects of this loss and move on to bigger and better things.
“We’re young, but I don’t think the loss had to do with us being young,” Winship said. “We’ll learn from it and finish next time and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Cape Elizabeth finally plays on its home field Friday when York pays a visit. The Capers host Freeport Wednesday of next week.
“All of our games have been close,” Tinsman said. “I feel good about Friday and the rest of the season. Hopefully, we’ll build on this.”
“We’re excited to go home and play York,” Wood said. “We’ll probably see their number one pitcher. We’ll have Ingalls going. Hopefully we can get another one.”
Falmouth sophomore starter Reece Armitage delivers a pitch. Armitage wasn’t involved in the decision.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Marshall Peterson went the distance and earned the victory in his first start.
Falmouth sophomore pitcher Max Fortier throws a strike. Fortier kept the lead during his 2.2-inning relief stint.
Falmouth junior Connor Aube takes a rip.
Falmouth junior Connor Aube successfully steals second base.
Falmouth freshman Colby Emmertz makes contact.
Falmouth senior Patrick Horgan comes home with a run in the third inning.
Cape Elizabeth freshman phenom Brendan Tinsman launches a fourth inning home run Wednesday afternoon at Falmouth.
Jim Allen photos.
Tinsman is congratulated by his teammates after his home run. The Capers rallied for six runs in the seventh and stunned the Yachtsmen, 9-6.
More photos below.
CE- 010 101 6- 9 8 3
F- 004 020 0- 6 6 1
Dobieski singled to center, Tinsman scored.
Gee scored on error. MacDowell singled to left, Horgan scored. Emmertz scored on error. Aube flew out to right, MacDowell scored.
Tinsman homered to left-center, Tinsman scored.
Coyne flew out to left, Fortier scored. Aube singled to left, Emmertz scored.
Denison doubled to left, Brigham scored.
Roberts walked, Dobieski scored. Brigham walked, Best scored. Tinsman walked, Ingalls scored. Roberts scored on Riggle’s squeeze bunt. Dobieski singled to right, Brigham and Tinsman scored.
CE- Dobieski 3
CE- Tinsman 3, Brigham 2, Best, Dobieski, Ingalls, Roberts
F- Emmertz 2, Fortier, Gee, Horgan, MacDowell
CE- Dobieski 3, Tinsman 2, Brigham, Denison, Ingalls, Riggle
F- Aube 2, Coyne, Emmertz, MacDowell
CE- Tinsman (1)
F- Aube, Coyne
Peterson and Tinsman; Armitage, Fortier (4), Aube (7), Coyne (7) and MacDowell
Peterson (W, 1-0) 7 IP 6 H 6 R 3 ER 2 K 2 HBP
Reece Armitage 3.1 IP 2 H 2 R 2 ER 2 BB 4 K
Fortier 2.2 IP 2 H 1 R 0 ER 1 BB 0 K
Aube (L, 0-1) 0 IP 3 H 6 R 6 ER 3 BB 0 K
Coyne 1 IP 1 H 0 R 1 BB 1 K
* Aube pitched to six batters in the seventh