Falmouth frustrates error-prone Greely to stay unbeaten

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Falmouth junior second baseman Colin Coyne is greeted by his teammates after scoring the go-ahead run during the Yachtsmen’s 5-2 win over Greely Friday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 5 Greely 2

G- 100 000 1- 2 3 4
F- 100 220 x- 5 5 5

Top 1st
Soule flew out to right, Normandeau scored.

Bottom 1st
Reece Armitage lined out to right, Connor Aube scored.

Bottom 4th
Coyne scored on error. Garrett Aube singled to left, Camelio scored.

Bottom 5th
Robbie Armitage and Reece Armitage scored on error.

Top 7th
Miller grounded out to second, Twitchell scored. 

Repeat hitter:
F- Tracy

Runs:
G- Normandeau, Twitchell
F- Reece Armitage, Robbie Armitage, Connor Aube, Camelio, Coyne

RBI:
G- Miller, Soule
F- Reece Armitage, Garrett Aube, Camelio

Stolen bases:
G- Leeman, Pisini, Twitchell
F- Connor Aube 2, Gee

Left on base:
G- 3
F- 4

Leeman, Normandeau (5) and Fried; Guarino and Garrett Aube

G:
Leeman (L, 0-1)  4 IP 4 H 3 R 1 ER 2 BB 5 K 1 WP
Normandeau 2 IP 1 H 2 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 K 

F: 
Guarino (W, 3-0)  7 IP 3 H 2 R 0 ER 0 BB 9 K 

Time: 1:36

FALMOUTH—Greely’s baseball team has had its way with just about everyone the past few seasons, but the two-time defending Class B state champion Rangers seem to struggle most when they square off with rival Falmouth.

That held true again Friday afternoon at Croker Field, as Greely’s usually rock-solid defense gave the potent Yachtsmen extra chances and Falmouth took advantage as it stayed undefeated on the season.

After the Rangers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an unearned run, the Yachtsmen drew even thanks to a couple of walks and junior rightfielder Reece Armitage’s sacrifice fly.

Falmouth junior ace Cam Guarino wasn’t about to allow Greely to go back on top, as he prevented most of the Rangers from even putting the ball in play, but Greely senior starter Justin Leeman matched Guarino through three innings.

The Yachtsmen went on top in the fourth, as three hits and an error spelled two runs. Junior second baseman Colin Coyne scored the go-ahead run on an error and sophomore catcher Garrett Aube singled in another.

Falmouth took advantage of further Greely largesse in the fifth. Even though the Yachtsmen didn’t manage a hit, the Rangers committed two errors and Falmouth extended its lead to 5-1.

Greely got an unearned run back in the seventh, but Guarino slammed the door without allowing further damage and the Yachtsmen prevailed, 5-2.

Guarino threw a three-hitter, struck out nine and Falmouth improved to 7-0 with its fifth successive win over Greely, which committed four errors and fell to 4-1-1 on the season.

“Anytime we can get a win over Greely, it’s great for the program,” said Yachtsmen coach Kevin Winship. “We’ve been fortunate the last few times we’ve played them to get some wins. They had our number for our while and we’ve turned the tide and had their number lately.” 

The gold standard

Since 2007, Falmouth and Greely have combined to win five of the nine Class B championships in that span. The Yachtsmen have posted winning records six years running, while the Rangers haven’t had a losing season since 1987.

This is the third straight season, however, that the teams are only playing in the regular season, as Falmouth’s enrollment forces it to play up in Class A for the postseason.

Regardless of where they are in June, the rivals have both impressed in the early going this spring.

The Rangers opened with a 15-2 (five-inning) home win over Fryeburg Academy, then beat host Lake Region, 7-1, held off visiting Wells (4-3) and after settling for a 4-4 home tie against Yarmouth Tuesday (the Clippers took the lead in the top of the 10th, but the game was called due to darkness and the score reverted back to what it was after nine innings, forcing the teams to split Heal Points), Greely won a five-inning mercy rule game (13-3) at York Wednesday.

The Yachtsmen rode their dominant pitching staff to an undefeated start. After starting with a 14-0, five-inning home win over Poland in a game which saw Guarino throw a no-hitter. Falmouth beat host Kennebunk, 5-3, won at Cape Elizabeth (8-2), downed visiting Freeport (11-2), mercy ruled host Fryeburg Academy (16-0, behind Max Fortier’s no-hitter), then shut out host Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday, 7-0.

Last year, Falmouth swept Greely, winning in Cumberland (7-1) and at home (10-1) to increase its win streak to four in the series, but entering play Friday, the Rangers (who won nine of 10 in the series prior to 2014) held a 16-8 advantage over the Yachtsmen dating back to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below).

Friday, Falmouth once again got the better of its rival.

Guarino caught Leeman looking at a 3-2 pitch to start the game, but senior leftfielder Caleb Normandeau poked a single to center and Guarino tried to pick him off, but he threw the ball away, sending Normandeau to third. Senior shortstop Cal Soule followed with a fly ball to deep right-center. It looked like Normandeau would score easily, but Reece Armitage unleashed one of his patented rockets to the plate, only to see Normandeau barely beat it for a 1-0 lead. Guarino capped the inning by getting junior third baseman Ryan Twitchell to swing and miss at strike three.

The Yachtsmen quickly answered in their half of the first.

Senior centerfielder Connor Aube walked on a 3-2 pitch, then stole second base and third base in succession. Leftfielder Tyler Gee also walked and stole second to put Leeman in a jam, but Leeman got junior shortstop Robbie Armitage to ground out back to the mound. Reece Armitage did bring in a run with a fly ball to right and after Leeman wild pitched Gee to third, Coyne struck out to keep the score 1-1.

Guarino made quick work of the Rangers in the top of the second, as he struck out senior centerfielder Matt Pisini swinging and after getting junior catcher Dylan Fried to fly out to right, he fanned sophomore rightfielder Luke Miller.

Leeman started the bottom of the frame by striking out third baseman Chris Camelio. First baseman Jesse Melchiskey reached on Twitchell’s throwing error and designated hitter Hogan Tracy singled to left, but Garrett Aube lined out to Normandeau at first, who doubled up Tracy to end the threat.

Guarino started the third by striking out senior designated hitter Dylan Doughty and senior rightfielder Austin Nowinski, but Leeman singled to right-center and stole second. Guarino then stranded him by getting Normandeau to ground out to second.

Leeman had his best inning in the bottom half, fanning Connor Aube swinging and Gee looking, then getting Robbie Armitage to line out to center, with Pisini making a nice running catch.

Greely threatened in the top of the fourth, but couldn’t take the lead.

Guarino got Soule to line hard to center to start the frame, but Twitchell singled to right, then stole second. Pisini popped out back to the mound and Fried ended the threat with a grounder to second.

Falmouth went on top to stay in the bottom of the fourth.

Reece Armitage grounded out to second leading off, but Coyne got the uprising started with a single to left. Leeman tried to pick Coyne off, but his throw got away and Coyne got all the way to third. With the infield in, Camelio then grounded sharply to Soule, who couldn’t handle a tough hop and Coyne came home with the go-ahead run.

“You have to tip your hat to Leeman,” Winship said. “I thought he pitched excellent. We really struggled with him at first. He kept us off balance. I bet he was probably 70 percent curveballs to fastballs. Fortunately for us, they made some uncharacteristic errors a Greely team doesn’t usually make. We took advantage. We’re aggressive on the bases and we’ll make teams pay when they make mistakes.”

After Melchiskey struck out for the second out, Tracy kept the threat going with a single to left-center, putting runners at the corners, and Garrett Aube, the number nine hitter, came through with a single through the hole, scoring Camelio for a 3-1 lead. 

“The order is well-rounded,” Aube said. “Everybody can hit and everybody has power. It doesn’t matter who’s up. I was looking for a fastball. I was hoping it would get through the infield.”

“We don’t have an easy out in the lineup, 1 through 9,” Winship said. “I’m a big fan of putting good hitters in the 7, 8 and 9 spots. Garrett had the big hit and that RBI. He ripped the ball hard.”

A nice defensive play by Soule going to his right before throwing to second for a force out prevented more damage and ended the frame.

With the lead, Guarino made quick work of the Rangers in the fifth, catching Miller looking at strike three, fanning Doughty and after Nowinski reached on Coyne’s error, picking him off with a throw to Melchiskey at first.

“It’s just adrenaline,” Guarino said. “I get so happy when the team scores. It just boosts me to throw faster. Every time I see Greely, I get that inner rage and I throw hard.” 

By the end of the bottom of the inning, Falmouth had added two more unearned runs.

Nowinski came on to pitch and struck out Gee, but Robbie Armitage reached when Twitchell made an error. With the runner going, Reece Armitage then grounded to sophomore second baseman A.J. Eisenhart, who looked at Robbie Armitage, who continued on to third and reached safely when Eisenhart’s throw was off-target. Reece Armitage moved up to second on the play and the hosts were in business. Coyne followed with a grounder to Soule at short, who made a nice stab, but his throw home was wild high and Robbie Armitage was safe and Reece Armitage came home as well. Coyne got picked off and thrown out at third and Camelio grounded back to the mound, but the Yachtsmen were in control, up, 5-1.

Robbie Armitage’s error allowed Leeman to reach leading off the sixth, but Normandeau lined out to short and Armitage threw over to Melchiskey to double up Leeman. Soule’s ground out to short ended the inning.

Melchiskey singled to right leading off the bottom half, but Tracy grounded into a pitcher-to-short-to-first double play and Garrett Aube struck out.

More defensive troubles extended the game in the top of the seventh, but eventually, Guarino finished it off.

Twitchell started the frame with a little bleeder to the right of the mound. Guarino got to the ball, but threw wildly, allowing Twitchell to reach. Pisini laid down a bunt, which Garrett Aube threw away, putting runners at the corners. Guarino caught Fried looking at strike three, but Miller’s ground out to Coyne brought home Twitchell. Doughty was replaced by junior pinch-hitter Tate Porter, who popped out to Melchiskey, who made a nice over-the-shoulder running catch to bring the curtain down on Falmouth’s 5-2 victory.

Guarino improved to 3-0 on the year and 15-2 in his career after allowing two unearned runs on three hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and fanned nine.

“I felt like my curveball was on point today and my change-up, they just swung at it,” Guarino said. “I normally don’t throw inside fastballs, but I did that too. Things with Garrett are great. We worked really hard this week in locating spots.” 

“(Cam) was throwing tons of strikes and that’s really important,” Garrett Aube said. “He has a good defense behind him. He was really hitting his spots today.”

“We had that one mishap in the first inning, but once we tied it and got him those couple runs, that’s all Cam needed,” Winship added. “He settled in and pitched a great game. He’s just a great pitcher. He works on it year-round. He has confidence. He just keeps guys off-balance. He throws strikes and doesn’t walk anybody. He pitches with confidence in certain situations knowing he’ll get good defense behind him. He just gets stronger as the game goes on. Playing against Greely at home, he’s a competitor. He loves to come out and pitch.”

Offensively, the Yachtsmen got two hits from Tracy, runs from Reece Armitage, Robbie Armitage, Connor Aube, Camelio and Coyne and RBI from Reece Armitage, Garrett Aube and Camelio. Connor Aube had two stolen bases, while Gee finished with one. Falmouth stranded four baserunners and committed an uncharacteristic five errors, but managed to overcome.

For Greely, Normandeau and Twitchell scored runs and Miller and Soule had RBI. Leeman, Pisini and Twitchell all stole bases. The Rangers stranded three runners.

Leeman fell to 0-1 after giving up three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in four innings. He struck out five and threw a wild pitch. Normandeau was tagged for two unearned runs on one hit in two innings. He struck out two.

Ultimately, the Rangers couldn’t overcome four errors.

“Our defense is a strength of ours,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “We ask a lot of our pitchers. We had two guys going on short rest. They pitched well and deserved better defense. The one thing I thought going into this game was at least we’d play solid defense, but our defense really cost us today. The walks in the first inning and the errors in the fourth and fifth really cost us. That’s when they got their runs.

“I’m disappointed with our at-bats. We have experienced guys in the lineup. We should have put the ball in play more with two strikes. At the same time, it’s the first time we’ve seen a pitcher of that caliber this year. It’s good for us to see that type of pitching and we’ll get better.  They made some mistakes, but they ultimately made more defensive plays than we did. They’re talented. We’re capable of playing better baseball than we have the past couple years when we’ve played them.”

On the road

Both teams will spend the majority of their upcoming time on the road.

Greely hosts Kennebunk Monday, then has a showdown at Cape Elizabeth Wednesday. After a home game versus Poland Thursday, the Rangers visit Freeport, Fryeburg Academy and Gray-New Gloucester in succession before returning home to battle Falmouth for the final time May 20.

Expect the two-time champs to quickly bounce back.

“It’s a long season,” Derek Soule said. “If we take the right approach, this will only make us a stronger team down the road. The losses we had against Falmouth last year, I thought we did a nice job using those to make us better. Hopefully we can do that again.” 

The Yachtsmen are at Lake Region Monday and Poland Wednesday and after welcoming Wells Friday, they go to Yarmouth the following Monday.

Falmouth hopes to keep on keeping on.

“I think we have a really good chance this year, but we can’t get too excited,” Garrett Aube said. “I’m just trying to do my part. It’s fun.”

“We’re doing everything right right now,” Guarino said. “We have a good pitching staff, some depth in hitting and good fielding.”

“It’s a great group of kids,” Winship added. “They come to the ballpark and have fun. We talk about getting on the train and seeing how far it can go.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

Falmouth junior pitcher Cam Guarino throws a strike to Greely junior catcher Dylan Fried. Guarino improved to 3-0 behind a three-hit, nine-strikeout performance.

Falmouth senior first baseman Jesse Melchiskey applies a tag to pick off Greely senior leftfielder Austin Nowinski.

Greely senior Justin Leeman throws a pitch as Falmouth’s Tyler Gee takes off for second base.

Falmouth senior centerfielder Connor Aube steals second base as Greely senior shortstop Cal Soule takes the throw.

Falmouth junior second baseman Colin Coyne lines a single.

Greely senior shortstop Cal Soule goes to his knees to play the ball.

Falmouth senior Connor Aube, left, and junior Colin Coyne celebrate a run during the victory.

Recent Greely-Falmouth results

2015
Falmouth 7 @ Greely 1 
@ Falmouth 10 Greely 1

2014
(doubleheader played @ OOB) 
Falmouth 4 Greely 0
Falmouth 5 Greely 3 

2013
@ Greely 5 Falmouth 1

2012
Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1

2011
@ Greely 13 Falmouth 3
Greely 9 Falmouth 1 (@ OOB)
Western B semifinals
@ Greely 8 Falmouth 3

2010
@ Falmouth 7 Greely 5
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 3 (8)

2009
Greely 9 @ Falmouth 3
@ Greely 10 Falmouth 9

2008
Falmouth 8 @ Greely 5
Greely 12 @ Falmouth 8

2007
@ Greely 7 Falmouth 2
Greely 5 @ Falmouth 1

2006
Greely 2 @ Falmouth 1
Falmouth 5 @ Greely 4 (8)
Western B semifinals
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 2

2005
@ Greely 4 Falmouth 3 (8)

2004
@ Falmouth 3 Greely 2 (8)

2003
Greely 5 @ Falmouth 1

2002
@ Greely 10 Falmouth 8

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.