CUMBERLAND—Falmouth’s baseball team faced a mighty challenge Friday afternoon.
And the Yachtsmen rose to the occasion.
Facing defending Class B state champion Greely at Twin Brook Recreation Center, Falmouth had to go up against Rangers senior ace Will Bryant, but the Yachtsmen, despite their youth, produced a memorable, encouraging, winning effort.
Falmouth sophomore Reece Armitage entered the game overshadowed by Bryant, but overcame some early struggles to steal the show.
After the Yachtsmen’s balanced offense scored a run in the third and provided a 5-0 cushion with four more runs in the fourth, Armitage held Greely’s potent offense at bay.
The Rangers did finally break through in the bottom of the sixth, but only managed one run, and Falmouth tacked on two more in the seventh. In the bottom half, sophomore Colin Coyne came on to close it out and he worked out of trouble to put the finishing touches on a 7-1 victory.
Armitage allowed just three hits in six innings, four different Yachtsmen produced multiple hits and Falmouth didn’t make an error as it improved to 5-1, dropping Greely to 5-2 in the process.
“I thought the kids played great,” said Yachtsmen coach Kevin Winship. “We knew coming in we were facing a top pitcher in the league and we had our work cut out for us, but we played well, 1 through 9.”
The Yachtsmen blanked visiting York in their opener, 4-0, then let a three-run seventh inning slip away in a 9-6 home loss to Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth bounced back with wins at Freeport (5-2) and Fryeburg Academy (16-6), then Wednesday edged visiting Gray-New Gloucester, 3-2.
The Rangers blanked visiting Fryeburg Academy (10-0, in five innings) in their first game, then won at Kennebunk (6-4) and Lake Region (8-5) and at home over Poland (11-3), before suffering their first setback, 9-5, at Wells Monday. Wednesday, Greely bounced back by handling host Yarmouth, 11-2.
Entering Friday’s contest, Greely had won 16 of 22 meetings against Falmouth dating to the start of the 2002 season, but last year, the Yachtsmen swept a doubleheader at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, 4-0 and 5-3.
Friday, Falmouth made it three in a row over its neighbor.
Bryant worked around a hit and an error in the top of the first.
He caught senior catcher Connor MacDowell looking at strike three to start the game, then got Coyne, the second baseman, to hit a foul pop to him. Junior centerfielder Connor Aube lined a single to left, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error, but sophomore shortstop Robbie Armitage grounded out to Greely junior shortstop Cal Soule for out number three.
In the bottom half, Rangers junior second baseman Justin Leeman grounded out to short, but junior first baseman Caleb Normandeau drew a walk. Senior centerfielder Miles Shields then made solid contact, but lined the ball right at freshman first baseman Colby Emmertz, who caught it for one out and tagged the bag before Shields could get back for a double play to complete the inning.
Bryant made quick work of the Yachtsmen in the second, getting sophomore designated hitter Chris Camelio to hit back to the mound and catching both senior third baseman Caleb Lydick and junior leftfielder Tyler Gee to look at strike three.
In the bottom half, Bryant drew a walk and after Soule popped out to short and senior third baseman Chaz Reade lined deep to left, with Gee making a terrific sprawling catch, cosnecutive wild pitches put Bryant at third, but Reece Armitage ended the frame by striking out sophomore designated hitter Ryan Twitchell.
In the third, Falmouth took the lead, as senior rightfielder Patrick Horgan singled to center and stole second. Emmertz then singled to right to put runners at the corners. Emmertz stole second as well and after MacDowell flew out to shallow right, with the runners holding, Coyne beat out an infield hit off Soule’s glove and Horgan scored the game’s first run. Aube struck out, but Robbie Armitage ripped a single to left. Winship sent Emmertz to the plate, but a strong throw from junior leftfielder Austin Nowinski was snared by leaping sophomore catcher Dylan Fried, who managed to apply the tag just before Emmertz could touch the plate to end the frame.
Fried led off the bottom half by lining out to right. Junior rightfielder Matt Pisini popped out to second, but Leeman beat out an infield hit and moved up on a wild pitch. Reece Armitage escaped again by striking out Normandeau.
The Yachtsmen got some separation in the fourth.
Leading off, Camelio drew a walk on a full count pitch. Lydick then reached on an error. Gee walked to load the bases, but Bryant struck out Horgan. Emmertz then crushed a ball over Nowinski’s head. The runners had to hold to ensure it landed safely, then moved up one base apiece, with Camelio coming home. MacDowell then grounded a single through the hole between third and shortstop and Lydick scored for a 3-0 lead.
“We hadn’t been hitting well as a team, but coach said to ‘grip and rip’ and we hit him pretty well,” MacDowell said.
Coyne also singled to left, chasing home Gee and reloading the bases.
“Bryant’s a great pitcher,” Coyne said. “We were looking first-pitch fastball, find gaps and score runs and that’s what we did.”
“We talked about what to look for and at the beginning, we let (Bryant) get ahead of us, but then we started jumping on that first pitch fastball and things worked out for us,” Winship said.
Aube then hit a slow ground ball to Reade at third, whose only play was to first and Emmertz came home for a 5-0 advantage. A passed ball moved the runners up, but Robbie Armitage popped back to the mound to end it.
Greely wasn’t able to answer in the bottom of the fourth, as Reece Armitage set the Rangers down 1-2-3, getting Shields to fly to right, Bryant to pop to short and Soule to pop out foul to first.
“I thought the first couple innings, their pitcher hadn’t settled in and his location wasn’t good and we had an opportunity, but we chased bad pitches and let him off the hook,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “Then he settled in and got down in the zone. He did a nice job keeping us off balance.”
Bryant’s final inning was the fifth and he got Camelio to ground out to second, Lydick to ground out to short (with Cal Soule making a nice stab) and Gee to look at strike three.
The Rangers threatened in the bottom half, as Reade led off with a single to right on the first pitch, but Armitage picked him off, with Emmertz throwing to Robbie Armitage for the out. Twitchell popped out to second and after Fried walked, Pisini struck out looking.
Senior Gabe Axelsen came on to pitch the sixth. He gave up a leadoff single to Horgan, but Emmertz lined out to short and MacDowell grounded into a third-to-second-to-first double play.
Greely got a run in the bottom half, but Reece Armitage ensured it was only one.
Leading off, Leeman walked. Normandeau grounded into a force play, but Shields lined a single to right-center to put runners at the corners. Bryant crushed a ball to right, but Horgan tracked it down as Normandeau came home with the run, but Soule flew out to right and Falmouth still led, 5-1, heading for the seventh.
There, the Yachtsmen tacked on two important insurance runs.
After Coyne grounded out to short, with Normandeau making a nice scoop on the throw, Aube started the uprising by taking a pitch off his foot. Robbie Armitage singled to right on a hit-and-run and Camelio’s single to right scored Aube to make it 6-1. After Lydick flew out to center, the throw came in to third. Armitage moved up, but Reade’s throw to second went awry and Armitage was able to score for a 7-1 advantage. Sophomore pinch-hitter Alex Whitmore drew a walk, but after a steal, Horgan ended the inning by grounding out to short.
Coyne then came on to replace Reece Armitage. He would close it out, but not before some anxious moments.
Reade flew out to right leading off, but Nowinski singled to center and Fried walked. After Pisini flew out to left, Coyne threw a wild pitch, then walked Leeman to load the bases. Coyne bore down, however, and got Normandeau to pop back to the mound and after 1 hour, 48 minutes, Falmouth got to celebrate its 7-1 victory.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” MacDowell said. “Colin came in and threw well. That’s what we needed.”
“We like to make things interesting,” Winship said. “They don’t want to make it easy on me. It’s never over, especially with Greely. They’re a top program. We scored those runs and I brought the kids in and told them, ‘Look guys, we can’t let up.'”
Reece Armitage only gave up one run on three hits and four walks in his six innings. He struck out three and threw three wild pitches as he improved to 1-0.
“I felt good,” Armitage said. “In the first couple innings, I was coming up high, but I had to find myself. I had great support from the team. My pitching coach (Craig Pendleton) helped. The infield, Colin, Robbie, they all helped me out. I found my rhythm in the fourth inning. My changeup worked really well for me. My two-seam had some movement to it. (Going up, 5-0) took a lot of pressure off. (Greely) quieted down.”
Armitage impressed his teammates.
“Reece was great,” said MacDowell, his battery-mate. “He threw strikes and got the job done.”
“Reece is a great pitcher,” Coyne said. “He threw a gem today. He did well.”
“I can’t say enough about Reece,” Winship added. “He had an elbow injury and we weren’t even sure he’d pitch this year. He did his rehab and he’s coming. We stretched him out and he didn’t want to come out. I can’t say enough about his outing. (Sophomore Cam) Guarino and Reece are our 1 and 2 and from there we’re really deep. We have guys who can throw strikes. Craig works well with the pitching staff.”
Coyne gave up a hit and two walks and threw a wild pitch in his inning of relief, but didn’t allow a run.
“This is my first year pitching and I just had to get the feel of things,” said Coyne. “It was a good ‘W.’ This was worth a lot of Heal Points. Greely’s good. We knew they were a good team.”
Robbie Armitage, Coyne, Emmertz and Horgan all had two hits. Robbie Armitage, Aube, Camelio, Emmertz, Gee, Horgan and Lydick scored runs. Coyne drove in two runs, while Aube, Camelio, Emmertz and MacDowell all had one RBI. Aube, Camelio, Emmertz, Horgan and Whitmore stole bases.
For Greely, Normandeau scored the lone run, Bryant had the RBI and Shields had a stolen base.
Bryant fell to 2-1 after giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks in five innings. He fanned six. Axelsen surrendered a run on three hits and a walk in two innings. He hit one batter.
“We didn’t play well,” Derek Soule said. “Offensively, they found some holes. Will looked strong early, but they pieced it together. That’s baseball. It was disappointing the number of balls we put in the air. We made it really easy on them defensively.”
Falmouth will host Greely May 22 in the teams’ final meeting this spring. Before that occurs, both squads have some tough tests to pass.
The Rangers’ tough stretch continues when highly touted York pays a visit Monday. Wednesday, Greely goes to rival Cape Elizabeth and Friday, dangerous Freeport comes to Twin Brook.
“We’ll try to bounce back on Monday,” Derek Soule said. “We’ll get back at it tomorrow morning and see if we can get our offensive confidence back. That’s a big game. York’s number one in Heal Points going into today.
“I was feeling really good about the team before the third inning today. We have some good young talented players, but we just don’t do it consistently. Some days we play great, but today was not so great. That’s typical of a young team. We’ll strive the next couple weeks for more consistency.”
The Yachtsmen return home Monday to meet Kennebunk. Lake Region pays a visit Wednesday. After going to Wells Thursday, Falmouth is at Kennebunk next Saturday.
The Yachtsmen hope to keep getting better.
“We’re having fun,” MacDowell said. “We love the game and we mesh really well. If we keeping working hard, we should be alright.”
“We’re young, but we’re finding ourselves,” Reece Armitage said. “We have great chemistry. We had freshman, sophomore, sophomore in the infield, but we’re playing well.”
“We’re young, but I think we can go a long way,” Coyne said. “We just have to stay consistent. If we stay consistent, anything can happen.”
“I’m pleased,” Winship added. “It’s a special group. We’re like a puzzle. This is one of my first years where I’m starting a lot of younger guys. In years past, I could tell you what the lineup was. We’re still learning each other. There’s enough talent here to do special things. There’s a lot of parity in the league. Next week’s a tough four-game week. I told the guys to keep the train rolling and see what happens.”
Falmouth sophomore pitcher Reece Armitage shows the form that produced a four-hitter. Armitage earned his first win.
Greely senior Will Bryant delivers a pitch.
Falmouth freshman first baseman Colby Emmertz prepares to catch a throw as Greely junior Caleb Normandeau closes in.
Greely sophomore catcher Dylan Fried dives in vain in an attempt to catch a pop-up.
Falmouth senior rightfielder Patrick Horgan makes a catch.
Greely junior Justin Leeman takes a pitch.
Greely junior first baseman Caleb Normandeau records an out on Falmouth sophomore Colin Coyne.
Greely sophomore catcher Dylan Fried leaps to make a catch, then tags out Falmouth freshman Colby Emmertz in a highlight reel third inning play.
Falmouth sophomore Robbie Armitage slides into third as Greely third baseman Chaz Reade takes the throw.
Greely senior Chaz Reade gets caught in a rundown in the fifth inning.
Greely junior Calvin Soule watches a pitch.
Falmouth coach Kevin Winship cheers during a rally.
Greely coach Derek Soule chats with the umpire between innings.
@ Falmouth 7 Greely 5
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 3 (8)
Greely 9 @ Falmouth 3
@ Greely 10 Falmouth 9
Falmouth 8 @ Greely 5
Greely 12 @ Falmouth 8
@ Greely 7 Falmouth 2
Greely 5 @ Falmouth 1
Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1
Falmouth 5 @ Greely 4 (8)
Western B semifinals
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 2
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 3 (8)
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2 (8)
Greely 5 @ Falmouth 1
@ Greely 10 Falmouth 8
Falmouth’s baseball team celebrates its 7-1 win at Greely Friday afternoon.
F- 001 400 2- 7 11 0
G- 000 001 0- 1 4 3
Coyne reached on infield single, Horgan scored.
Emmertz singled to left, Camelio scored. MacDowell singled to left, Lydick scored. Coyne singled to left, Gee scored. Aube grounded out to third, Emmertz scored.
Bryant hit sacrifice fly to right, Normandeau scored.
Camelio singled to right, Aube scored. Robbie Armitage scored on error.
F- Robbie Armitage, Coyne, Emmertz, Horgan
F- Robbie Armitage, Aube, Camelio, Emmertz, Gee, Horgan, Lydick
F- Coyne 2, Aube, Camelio, Emmertz, MacDowell
F- Aube, Camelio, Emmertz, Horgan, Whitmore
Left on base:
Reece Armitage, Coyne (7) and MacDowell; Bryant, Axelsen (6) and Fried
Reece Armitage (W, 1-0) 6 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 4 BB 3 K 3 WP
Coyne 1 IP 1 H 0 R 2 BB 0 K 1 WP
Bryant (L, 2-1) 5 IP 8 H 5 R 4 ER 2 BB 6 K
Axelsen 2 IP 3 H 2 R 1 ER 1 BB 0 K 1 HBP