Cape baseball erupts to end Yarmouth's unbeaten run
CAPE ELIZABETH—For two innings Wednesday afternoon, the host Cape Elizabeth baseball team, the defending Western Class B champion, could do nothing with Yarmouth pitcher Andrew Turcotte, who was promoted from the junior varsity team to make a spot start.
The Capers' bats can only be held down so long, however, and when senior catcher Kyle Danielson ripped a two-run double in the third, the hosts were ahead to stay. They'd add three more runs on five hits in the fourth, then break it open on senior shortstop Cam Brown's three-run double in the fifth as they went on to a 10-1 victory in a rematch of last year's regional final.
Cape Elizabeth also got a strong start from senior hurler Rob Macdonald, who shook off a shaky early stretch to retire nine of the final 10 hitters he faced, and improved to 7-1 on the year, handing the Clippers their first loss in eight games in the process.
"I think we were on the ball and making good cuts," said Macdonald. "It was just a matter of time. Once we come alive, we hit the ball really well."
Cape Elizabeth made it to the Class B Final for the second time in three seasons in 2010, but lost to Waterville, 9-5. Along the way, the Capers beat Yarmouth in a doozy of a regional final, 5-1. The teams split in the regular season, each winning on the road, Cape Elizabeth by a 7-0 margin and the Clippers by an 8-6 score.
So far in 2011, the Capers passed almost every test, but couldn't hold a 10-5 seventh inning lead Monday and suffered a stunning 12-10 home loss to Wells. They bounced back to beat host Falmouth, 5-2, Tuesday.
Yarmouth enjoyed its finest Class B season to date in 2010 and entered this spring as the odds-on favorite in the region. The Clippers won their first seven games, but the last three were most challenging, a 9-8 come-from-behind win at Fryeburg, 4-2 over visiting York and 9-6 at home over Gray-New Gloucester. JV pitcher Chester Jacobs got the win in that one.
Wednesday, Clippers coach Marc Halsted had to go with Turcotte, as senior Campbell Belisle-Haley was unavailable to go and classmate Aidan Sullivan needed more rest.
"Campbell's always had arm issues," Halsted said. "He'll throw in relief Friday. I don't bring Aidan back on three-days rest. I'm careful with arms."
Wednesday, in the early going, Turcotte held Cape Elizabeth at bay, but the Capers came to life eventually.
First, Yarmouth ran itself out of a couple golden scoring opportunities early, when it could have seized control of the game.
Senior standout centerfielder Luke Pierce led off the game and was hit on the leg by Macdonald and went to second when the pitcher tried to pick him off, but threw awry. After Belisle-Haley flew out, Halsted sent Pierce on a hit-and-run, but junior shortstop Ryan Cody swung and missed and Danielson easily threw Pierce out.
"When you play a good team, a few runs early makes all the difference," said Halsted. "It was a momentum-changer. A guy like Macdonald will be around the plate all day. I guessed. Lesson learned."
After Turcotte set the hosts down in order in the first inning and allowed just a one-out walk in the second, the Clippers managed to go ahead in the top of the third, but they could have had a bigger inning.
Junior designed hitter Eamon Costello flared a double down the leftfield line to get the inning started, but when catcher Cal Cooper grounded out to Brown at short, Costello, despite Halsted emphatically telling him otherwise, tried to advance to third and was gunned down by Capers senior first baseman Ben Berman. Pierce then hit a double to right-center, which would have scored a run. Pierce managed to score when Belisle-Haley followed with a ground ball up the middle, but instead of being up 2-0, or even 3-0 if the first inning failure was taken into account, the visitors only had a 1-0 lead.
It wouldn't last.
With one out in the bottom of the third, junior third baseman Derek Roberts reached on an error. After Brown walked, a passed ball moved the runners up. Danielson then pounded a ball to the right-centerfield gap and Cape Elizabeth was ahead for good, 2-1.
"I knew we had to do something to get the wheels going," said Danielson. "I've felt confident at the plate lately."
"We should have been up 1-0 and tied 2-2," lamented Halsted. "Better learn from our mistakes now. Better to make them May 11 than June 11."
Senior first baseman Aidan Sullivan started Yarmouth's half of the fourth inning with an infield single, but senior second baseman Dustin McCrossin hit into a double play. That loomed large when junior rightfielder Bryce Snyder followed with a double to deep right-center, but senior third baseman Joey King ended the inning with a deep fly to left.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cape Elizabeth bats truly came to life and opened things up.
Freshman DH Chris Tinsman started the rally with a single to center. He stole second and moved to third when senior second baseman Pat Tyler beat out a bunt single. Sophomore rightfielder Chris Robicheaw hit into a double play, but Tinsman came home to make it 3-1. Berman then singled, was balked to second, Roberts walked and Brown ripped a single to center to make it 4-1. Senior centerfielder Jack Barber followed with an RBI single to right and the lead was 5-1 after four.
Macdonald blew through the Yarmouth lineup in the fifth, capping the inning by fanning Pierce. In the bottom of the inning, the Capers ended all doubt.
Macdonald led off with a hard ground ball back to Turcotte, who couldn't handle it. Halsted then brought in Snyder, who immediately wild pitched Macdonald to second. Tinsman and Tyler walked to load the bases and after Snyder rebounded to strike out Robicheaw and Berman looking, the Clippers got everyone's attention when Halsted went with a five-infielder configuration (leaving only Belisle-Haley and Pierce in the outfield). It didn't pay dividends as Roberts drew a walk, bringing in Cape Elizabeth's sixth run of the day.
Brown then pounded a deep blast over Belisle-Haley's head. All three baserunners came home and it was a 9-1 ballgame.
"I do that all the time," Halsted said, of the five infielders. "Cam Brown was on deck. I don't want any part of him. We tried to get a ground ball. If we got out the inning 6-1 instead of 9-1, we'll take that chance six days a week, twice on Sunday. Plus, it's fun to gamble."
"I was sitting on a 2-0 fastball," said Brown.
"We scored at least six runs with two outs," said Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Hayward. "That was big."
Macdonald allowed a one-out walk to Cody in the sixth, but induced Sullivan to ground into a double play. In the bottom half, an infield single from the pitcher and a single to center from Tinsman chased Snyder in favor of sophomore Thomas Sullivan, who balked the runners to second and third and allowed a sacrifice fly to left from Tyler to end the scoring.
In the top of the seventh, Macdonald fanned McCrossin, got Thomas Sullivan to ground to short and senior Davis Brown to ground out to third to end it.
"My curveball really became my out pitch," said Macdonald, who allowed six hits, a run, walked one, hit a batter and struck out two in his seven innings as he improved to 3-0. "As the game went on, I got more comfortable throwing it. I hit my spots and had help in the field. A lot of guys flashed leather. It was a good team win."
"(Rob) hit his spots well," said Danielson. "He's been consistent. He didn't miss much today."
"He's got a rubber arm," Hayward added. "He's pitching on shorter rest than we like, but with the extra inning games and rainouts adding up, we had to do it. We're playing good defense. They ran into a couple outs. "
Halsted was impressed with Macdonald as well.
"(Macdonald's) excellent," Halsted said. "He deserves a lot of credit. It was a nice performance today. He changed speed and eye levels and was very effective."
The Capers offense was paced by two hits and four RBI from Brown. Danielson drove in two runs, while Barber, Roberts and Tyler added RBI each. Tinsman also had two hits and stole a base. Roberts scored three times, while Macdonald and Tinsman had two runs apiece.
For Yarmouth, Pierce had the lone run and Haley the only RBI. No Clipper had multiple hits. On the mound, Turcotte fell to 0-1 after surrendering six runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and a balk in four-plus innings. He fanned one. Snyder pitched 1.1 innings, giving up four runs (all earned) on three hits with three walks and a wild pitch. He had two strikeouts. Sullivan walked one and balked once while recording two outs.
"The bottom line is we asked two JV pitchers to beat Gray and Cape," Halsted said. "That was Bryce's first game. He's had arm fatigue. Now we get the pitchers back."
Big games continued
Yarmouth (third in the Western Class B Heal Points standings entering the day) is back in action Friday at Falmouth and Monday, the Clippers host red-hot Greely. A rematch with the Capers occurs next Wednesday at home.
"This is the best part of the season," Halsted said. "Highly competitive."
Before going to Yarmouth next week, Cape Elizabeth (fourth in Western B, prior to the win) goes to York Friday and visits Freeport Monday.
A lot of key games (with pivotal Heal Points implications) are left to be played.
"I think we're close to winning enough games to make the playoffs," said Hayward.