Falmouth senior pitcher Cam Guarino throws a strike during Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Gray-New Gloucester in the regular season opener. Guarino scattered four hits and struck out 14.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
F- 101 100 0- 3 5 1
GNG- 000 000 0- 0 4 3
Fortier grounded out to shortstop, Coyne scored.
Griffin Aube singled to center, Armitage scored.
Garret Aube flew out to center, Guarino scored.
F- Armitage, Coyne, Guarino
F- Ga. Aube, Gr. Aube, Fortier
F- Armitage, Bopp, Fortier
Left on base:
Guarino and G. Aube; Mann, E. Winchester (5) and McCann
Guarino (W, 1-0) 7 IP 4 H 0 R 0 ER 1 BB 14 K 2 HBP
Mann (L, 0-1) 4 IP 3 H 3 R 1 ER 3 BB 1 K 2 WP
Winchester 3 IP 2 H 0 R 1 BB 1 K
GRAY—The weather was more suited for the gridiron than the diamond when Falmouth’s highly touted baseball team opened the 2017 season Wednesday afternoon with a victory.
And not just any victory.
A victory sparked by the latest gem from the program’s ace.
And a landmark victory as well.
Facing Gray-New Gloucester, the visiting Yachtsmen gave senior Cam Guarino the only run he would need when senior second baseman Colin Coyne scored on a ground out in the top of the first inning.
After Guarino escaped a jam in the bottom half, Falmouth added a run in the top of the third inning, as junior first baseman Griffin Aube cracked a single which scored senior shortstop Robbie Armitage, who had tripled.
After Guarino allowed the Patriots to load the bases with no one out, but escaped without surrendering a run in the bottom of the third, the Yachtsmen took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth, as Guarino walked, moved to third base on an error, then came home on a sacrifice fly from junior catcher Garret Aube.
After getting out of one final jam in the bottom half, Guarino morphed into his unhittable self, retiring the last 11 batters he faced to slam the door on a 3-0 victory.
Guarino threw a complete game, four-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts and the Yachtsmen opened their season with a victory for the sixth year in a row and handed Gray-New Gloucester a loss in its first outing in the process.
“Every time we play Gray, they give us a battle,” said Falmouth coach Kevin Winship, who earned his 100th victory with the program. “We don’t seem to play that great up here. It wasn’t the greatest day to hit or catch the ball, but we battled and made it through.”
For all of its dominance last season, Falmouth will remember the one loss more than the 19 victories. The Yachtsmen finally met their match in the state final, falling, 5-0, to Bangor, and with a ton of talent back this spring, are viewed as the favorite in Class A South, even though they won’t see any of their potential playoff foes until the postseason, as they play a Western Maine Conference schedule one final time.
Gray-New Gloucester went 3-13 a year ago and missed the playoffs. The Patriots expect to be more competitive this spring. Their scheduled opener versus Wells Thursday was postponed and moved to April 25.
Last year, Falmouth blanked Gray-New Gloucester twice, 7-0 in Gray and 5-0 at home.
Wednesday, on a chilly and breezy afternoon (in other words, April in Maine), the Patriots sought their first win over the Yachtsmen since May 7, 2014 (2-0 in Gray), but instead, Falmouth made it four straight in the series, although nothing came easily.
The visitors got the only run they’d need in the top of the first.
Garret Aube, replacing his older brother, Connor, now starring at the University of Tennessee-Martin, in the leadoff spot, beat out an infield hit up the middle on a full count three pitches after Gray-New Gloucester sophomore catcher Nick McMann couldn’t handle his foul pop fly. Coyne then grounded to junior third baseman Eli Winchester, who tried to throw out Aube at second, but the throw was wild and both runners were safe, at the corners.
Winchester immediately atoned for that error when Armitage grounded back to him and with Aube breaking for home, getting the ball to McCann in time to apply the tag for the first out. Fortier then grounded to senior shortstop John Villanueva, but the ball was hit slowly and Villanueva had no choice but to throw to first for the out as Coyne came home with the game’s first run. Griffin Aube then popped out to end the frame.
In the bottom half, Guarino immediately found himself in a jam, as Winchester battled back from down 0-2 in the count to earn a walk and on another full count pitch, Villanueva grounded a single into leftfield to put runners at first and second. When senior starting pitcher Zack Mann grounded out to first, the runners moved up, but they were stranded in scoring position, as Guarino first got McCann to swing and miss at an off-speed pitch, then fanned senior leftfielder Tanner Mann on a full count pitch to end the threat.
Falmouth stranded a pair of runners in the top of the second.
After senior designated hitter Will Blum drew a walk, Guarino grounded out to first with Blum moving up. Sophomore rightfielder Garrett Tracy also drew a walk, but junior leftfielder Will Bopp struck out and Garret Aube grounded out to second.
In the bottom of the inning, Guarino returned to form, with one exception.
Guarino got senior centerfielder Jake Winchester to look at strike three and after plunking junior designated hitter Damian Pye in the ribs, Guarino fanned junior second baseman Josiah Rottari swinging and blew strike three past senior rightfielder Nick Chandler as well.
The Yachtsmen got their lone earned run of the game in the top of third, as after Coyne grounded out to short, Armitage ripped a shot past the dive of Jake Winchester in center and he didn’t stop until he reached third base with a triple. Fortier followed with a ground ball to first that should have scored Armitage, but he didn’t break for the plate on contact (much to Winship’s chagrin). That proved to be a moot point, as Griffin Aube followed with a solid single to center and even though Blum grounded out to third, Falmouth had a 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the third, Gray-New Gloucester had its best chance of the game, but came up empty.
Eli Winchester led off and reached when senior third baseman Colin Lento threw the ball wide of the mark. Villanueva then produced his second hit, a single to center, and Zack Mann beat out an infield hit to load the bases.
Guarino then turned it up a notch and got McCann to chase strike three, Tanner Mann to do the same, then he induced Jake Winchester to fly out to center to extinguish the threat.
“These were tough conditions,” Guarino said. “It was hard to keep my hands warm. The most important thing was to be focused and to throw strikes.”
“Even when (Cam) doesn’t have his ‘A’ stuff, which I don’t think he did today, he finds a way to get it done,” Winship said.
The Yachtsmen took advantage of their good fortune by scoring another run in the top of the fourth.
Guarino led off with a walk and moved up on a Mann wild pitch. Tracy then lined the ball to center, but Jake Winchester dropped it for an error, putting runners at the corners. Bopp grounded out to third to put runners at second and third and Garret Aube then crushed a ball to deep center. Winchester was able to run it down for the out, but Guarino scored easily to make it 3-0. Coyne lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
In the bottom half, Guarino struck out Pye swinging and after Rottari singled down the leftfield line, he hit Chandler with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. Again, Guarino was at his best under pressure, getting Eli Winchester to look at strike three and catching Villanueva looking as well.
Prior to the top of the fifth, Eli Winchester replaced Zack Mann on the mound, with Mann going to second base. Winchester got Armitage to ground out to third and Fortier to line to right, but Griffin Aube walked and Blum singled to left. Guarino then flew deep to left, but Tanner Mann ran it down to end the threat.
Guarino had his best inning of the game in the bottom half, throwing just nine pitches, getting Jake Winchester to line to center, where Fortier made a nice sliding catch, McCann to squib the ball in front of the plate, where Garrett Aube pounced on it and threw him out, and catching Tanner Mann looking at a third strike.
Falmouth went relatively quietly in the sixth, as Tracy looked at strike three on a full count pitch and after Bopp reached on an error and stole second, Garret Aube popped out to short and Coyne flew out to right.
In the bottom half, Guarino got Jake Winchester to fly out to left, then struck out junior pinch-hitter William Shufelt and Rottari.
Armitage led off the seventh with an infield hit, then stole second and moved to third on a fly ball to center off the bat of Fortier, but Griffin Aube grounded out to second and Blum was out on a squib in front of the plate which McCann handled, and it was on to the final half-inning.
There, Guarino, who entered just 15 pitches shy of reaching the new pitch limit of 110, slammed the door on the shutout.
Leading off, senior Nate Brindley pinch-hit for Chandler and grounded out to first base unassisted. Eli Winchester then took a third strike and at 2:47 p.m., Villanueva grounded out to second and the Yachtsmen had a 3-0 victory.
Winship took over the Falmouth program for the 2010 season (see sidebar, below, for previous records) and began inauspiciously with a 4-2 loss at Cape Elizabeth. The Yachtsmen won 10 games his first season, but by 2012, they were Class B state champions and they’ve been an elite power ever since.
“It’s exciting,” said Winship. “I think it’s a testament to the amount of talent we’ve had go through the program here. I tip my cap to those guys. Without them, I couldn’t have done it.”
“It means a lot to get Coach his 100th win,” Guarino said. “It’s my pleasure. It’s something I wanted to do for him.”
Guarino earned the victory by allowing just four hits and hitting two batters in his seven innings of work. He wound up throwing 106 pitches. He walked just one and struck out 14.
“My goal was to get them to ground out, but they just couldn’t hit it,” Guarino said. “My two-seamer and curveball worked for me. They couldn’t touch it.”
“I’m very confident when we get a couple runs with (Cam) pitching, because our chance to win is very good,” Winship said. “He started to get that change-up down. It was a strikeout pitch at the end. They weren’t even close to hitting that.”
Armitage was the Yachtsmen’s lone repeat hitter and he had their lone extra-base hit, a triple. Falmouth had just five hits total.
“We have really good hitters on the team, but sometimes it’s just not our day and today, the conditions were tough,” Guarino said.
“It wasn’t a good hitter’s day,” Winship said. “That and we lost a lot of guys to graduation and we’re finding guys to fill the spots.”
Armitage, Coyne and Guarino touched home and Garret Aube, Griffin Aube and Fortier had RBI. Armitage, Bopp and Fortier stole bases for Falmouth, which left nine runners on base.
For Gray-New Gloucester, Villanueva had two of the team’s four hits. The Patriots had their opportunities, but wound up stranding eight runners.
Zack Mann fell to 0-1 after giving up three runs (just one earned) on three hits in four innings. He walked three, threw a pair of wild pitches and struck out one batter. In relief, Eli Winchester didn’t allow a run on two hits in three innings of work. He had one walk and one strikeout.
While Gray-New Gloucester looks to bounce back and earn its first victory Friday at Poland, Falmouth remains on the road with games at Fryeburg Academy Saturday and at Cape Elizabeth Monday. The Yachtsmen’s first home game is April 26, when Gray-New Gloucester pays a visit.
Home or away, Falmouth will continue to wear the bulls-eye.
“Because of all the other sports these guys play, they’re used to expectations,” Winship said. “I think that as a coaching staff, we do a pretty good job of keeping them humble and bringing back down to Earth and letting them know exactly what’s expected. They come in and work hard every day. They’re a great group of kids.”
Falmouth coach Kevin Winship congratulates senior Cam Guarino during Wednesday’s victory, which happened to be the 100th of Winship’s career leading the Yachtsmen.
Falmouth senior shortstop Robbie Armitage fields a ground ball.
Falmouth junior first baseman Griffin Aube takes a pickoff throw.
Falmouth senior second baseman Colin Coyne makes contact.
Falmouth senior centerfielder Max Fortier makes a catch.
Falmouth senior shortstop Robbie Armitage slides safely into third base with a triple.
* State championship season
** Regional championship season