Falmouth holds off Deering in first ever regular season encounter

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Falmouth’s Ike Kiely (27) is congratulated by Sam Manganello after scoring the first run of the Yachtsmen’s 5-4 win at Deering Saturday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 5 Deering 4

F- 041 000 0- 5 9 1
D- 010 000 3- 4 6 3

Top 2nd
Kiely scored on error. Ga. Aube singled to center, Bopp and Manganello scored. LeFevre scored on Coffin squeeze bunt.

Bottom 2nd
McGonagle scored on error.

Top 3rd
Kiely singled to right, S. Kidder scored.

Bottom 7th
Harrison tripled to left, Randall and Lynch scored. L. Hill singled to center, Harrison scored.

Repeat hitters:
F- Ga. Aube, Bopp, Kiely
D- Harrison, Stanton

Runs:
F- Bopp, S. Kidder, Kiely, LeFevre, Manganello
D- Harrison, Lynch, McGonagle, Randall

RBI:
F- Ga. Aube 2, Coffin, Kiely
D- Harrison 2, L. Hill

Double:
F- Kiely

Triples:
D- Harrison, Stanton

Stolen bases:
F- S. Kidder 2, Ga. Aube, Douglas, Kiely, LeFevre

Left on base:
F- 9
D- 8

Gr. Aube, Ga. Aube (7) and Kiely; L. Hill, Berg (7) and Lynch

F:
Gr. Aube (W, 2-3) 6 IP 3 H 1 R 0 ER 5 BB 6 K 1 HBP
Ga. Aube 1 IP 3 H 3 R 3 ER 1 BB 0 K 2 WP

D:
L. Hill (L, 2-2) 6,2 IP 9 H 5 R 4 ER 4 BB 7 K 1 WP 1 HBP 1 Balk
Berg 0.1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K

Time: 2:07

PORTLAND—Don’t look now, but the two time defending regional champions are still very much alive.

Falmouth’s baseball team, which won just three of its first eight games, appears to be hitting its stride at just the right time.

Saturday afternoon at Hadlock Field, the Yachtsmen got pushed to the brink by the Deering Rams, who desperately needed a positive performance, and got one, but Falmouth did just enough to prevail and keep the good times rolling.

After Yachtsmen senior starting pitcher Griffin Aube escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam without surrendering a run in the bottom of the first, Falmouth erupted for four runs in the top of the second against Deering junior starter Luke Hill.

Sophomore catcher Ike Kiely got things started with a double and he scored on a throwing error. Senior shortstop Garret Aube then singled in two runs and second baseman Connor Coffin made it 4-0 with a squeeze bunt.

The Rams got a run back in the bottom half, on a bizarre play, but the Yachtsmen made it 5-1 when Kiely hit an RBI single in the third.

That score held up until the bottom of the seventh, when Deering rallied against Garret Aube.

A two-run triple from senior centerfielder Luc Harrison made things interesting and Hill followed with an RBI single to cut the deficit to one.

That’s as close as the Rams would get, however, as Aube retired the final two hitters to preserve a 5-4 victory.

The Yachtsmen won their fourth game in a row, improved to 7-5 and in the process, handed Deering its fifth successive loss and dropped the Rams to 5-7.

“We’ll take the win,” said Falmouth coach Kevin Winship. “One thing we’ve got to figure out is closing games. We have that one inning where things kind of fall apart. Luckily we got away with it today.”

First time (kind of)

Falmouth and Deering did square off in the 2016 Class A South semifinals, a 4-0 Yachtsmen win, but prior to this season, Falmouth played a Western Maine Conference regular season schedule.

Both teams came into Saturday’s contest looking to climb the standings.

Falmouth started with wins over visiting Westbrook (14-4, in five-innings) and host Bonny Eagle (11-8). After a 5-2 loss at Noble, the Yachtsmen beat host Cheverus, 3-1, then gave up 10 first inning runs and were ultimately defeated at Gorham, 15-5, in five-inning mercy rule decision. After dropping a hard-fought 7-4, eight-inning home decision to Portland, Falmouth lost at Thornton Academy (6-4) and at home to Marshwood (8-3), then returned to form by beating host Scarborough (5-3), visiting Kennebunk (9-5) and host Windham (7-5).

Deering  opened with a dramatic 6-5 home win over Windham, then lost to Scarborough, in a game played in Gorham (5-0). After a 7-6, 12-inning home victory over Massabesic, the Rams doubled up host Westbrook (16-8) and beat host Kennebunk (5-2). A 13-3, five-inning home loss to Biddeford was followed by a 3-1 win at Gorham and losses at Marshwood (10-2) and Portland (11-1, in five-innings), at home to Cheverus (14-0, in five-innings) and at South Portland (10-0, in five-innings).

Saturday, Falmouth escaped an early jam and held on for dear life at the end to go on to victory.

Garret Aube reached on an infield single to short leading off the contest and he promptly stole second, but Hill stranded him, getting Coffin to ground out to third, Griffin Aube to chase strike and centerfielder Sam Kidder to strike out as well.

Deering then appeared to have a golden chance to take the lead, perhaps a big lead, in its half of the first, but the Rams came up empty.

Senior catcher Jack Lynch drew a walk leading off and Griffin Aube hit senior second baseman Bobby Ridge on the foot. Harrison then beat out an infield single up the middle to load the bases with no one out.

Luke Hill lofted a fly ball to right on a 3-2 pitch, but it wasn’t deep enough to score Lynch. Senior third baseman Dan Hill then struck out and Aube escaped the jam by fanning senior leftfielder Keegan Stanton.

“That was huge,” Kiely said. “Griff was able to buckle down. He focused and got strikes and the defense was great. That was a big lift. We feel we escaped, then we came out and had a big inning to jump on them early.”

“Griff did a really good job settling in,” said Winship. “Once he started feeling good and got command of his fastball, he was tough. That was a big part of the game, getting out of that. That was a game-changer.”

Deering knew it squandered a great chance.

“That’s a cardinal sin,” Rams coach Josh Stowell said. “That’s one of those things that the baseball Gods don’t appreciate. We had to find a way to put the ball in play or drive it to the outfield. A soft pop-up and two Ks didn’t do it.”

Falmouth’s offense then awakened in the second.

Kiely got things started with a double to left. Rightfielder Garrett Tracy flew out to center, but designated hitter Will Bopp beat out an infield single and compounding matters, Deering senior shortstop Alex McGonagle threw the ball away, allowing Kiely to come home with the game’s first run. First baseman Sam Manganello followed with an infield hit and third baseman Josh LeFevre was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Garret Aube then came through with the big hit, a single up the middle, bringing home Bopp and Manganello to make it 3-0, putting runners at the corners in the process.

Coffin was next and he dropped a bunt down that Hill got to, but the only play was to first and LeFevre scampered home with another run. Griffin Aube grounded out to second, but the damage was done and Falmouth had a four-run lead.

“We’ve done great offensively,” Winship said. “We execute hit-and-runs, steal bases, we had the squeeze.”

“A couple little things we didn’t get done,” Stowell said. “It was a game of swings and the top of the second wasn’t very good either.”

Deering did get a run back in the bottom of the frame.

McGonagle walked leading off and took second when junior first baseman Mike Jones grounded out to short. After sophomore designated hitter Mike Randall watched strike three, Lynch hit a ground ball back to Griffin Aube at the mound, but instead of throwing to first for the out, Aube ran over to the bag, but bumped into Manganello and couldn’t touch the base before Lynch got there, allowing McGonagle to come around with the run. Ridge lined out to short, but the Rams were back within three.

The Yachtsmen then got the run right back in the third.

Kidder walked, stole second and took third when Luke Hill was called for a balk. Kiely then delivered the run with a single to right.

“I felt great at the plate,” Kiely said. “I felt quick and ready. I felt I could see everything coming in. It’s so much fun playing here. It’s beautiful.”

Kiely also stole second, but he was stranded as Tracy grounded to first, Bopp bounced out to third and Manganello flew out to center.

Deering had a two-out rally in the bottom half, but couldn’t push a run across.

Harrison led off by flying to right and Luke Hill lined to center. Dan Hill then drew a walk and Stanton singled to right, but McGonagle fanned for the third out.

LeFevre started the top of the fourth by drawing a walk and promptly stole second, but Garret Aube looked at strike three, Coffin popped out foul to first and after Griffin Aube walked (and the runners moved up on a wild pitch) and Kidder walked to load the bases, Hill got Kiely to line to center, where Harrison made a sliding catch to retire the side.

Griffin Aube had his easiest inning in the bottom of the fourth, getting Jones to ground out to first, Randall to ground back to the mound and Lynch to chase strike three.

Falmouth stranded two more runners in the top of the fifth.

Tracy led off with a line drive to third, which Dan Hill couldn’t hold for an error. Bopp then singled into left, but Manganello struck out, LeFevre popped out to third and Garret Aube flew out to left.

Ridge led off the bottom half with a walk, but Kiely quickly erased him by throwing him out stealing.

“It’s a great feeling throwing a guy out stealing second,” Kiely said.

“Ike has been tremendous,” Winship said. “Forget about his bat, but what we brings behind the plate. You can’t run on him. He throws everyone out.”

Harrison struck out and Luke Hill lined to right to send the game to the sixth.

There, Coffin led off with a bloop single to right and stole second, but Griffin Aube struck out looking and after Kidder singled to center (putting runners at the corners), then stole second, Kiely grounded out to third and Tracy bounced out to short to keep the score 5-1.

In the bottom of the sixth, Dan Hill grounded out to short on the first pitch, but Stanton followed with a triple to deep left. He wouldn’t score, however, and that run loomed large in the end.

After McGonagle drew a walk, Jones hit a ground ball to Coffin at second, who threw to Garret Aube for a force. On the play, Aube was taken out by McGonagle’s slide and runner’s interference was called and Jones was ruled out as well, negating Stanton’s run.

In the top of the seventh, Luke Hill struck out Bopp and fanned pinch-hitter Nate Rogers before having to leave after reaching the 110-pitch limit. Freshman Bennett Berg came on in relief and dispatched the only hitter he faced, LeFevre, on a grounder to third.

The Rams then rallied in the bottom of the seventh before falling just short.

With Garret Aube on to pitch, Randall blooped the ball in front of new third baseman Jack Kidder and beat it out for an infield single. After Aube threw a wild pitch, Lynch drew a walk and the runners moved up on another wild pitch. Ridge flew out to shallow left, but Harrison pounded the ball to deep left for a triple, scoring both runners and giving Deering life. Luke Hill was next and he singled up the middle, bringing in Harrison to cut the deficit to one.

That rally ended there, however, as Dan Hill lined out to center and Stanton hit a pop foul wide of first where Griffin Aube made the catch to end the 2-hour, 7-minute contest 5-4 in Falmouth’s favor.

“It was a little bit scary, but we trust Garret to throw strikes and we trust our defense,” Kiely said.

The Yachtsmen had nine hits, paced by two apiece from Garret Aube, Bopp and Kiely.

Bopp, Sam Kidder, Kiely, LeFevre and Manganello all scored runs.

Garret Aube had two RBI, while Coffin and Kiely each drove in one run.

Sam Kidder had two of Falmouth’s six stolen bases. Garret Aube, Douglas, Kiely and LeFevre had the others.

The Yachtsmen left nine runners on base.

Griffin Aube improved to 2-3 after giving up one unearned run on three hits in six innings. He walked five, fanned six and hit a batter.

Garret Aube finished it off with his harrowing inning. He allowed three runs on three hits, walked one and threw two wild pitches.

“(Garret and Griffin are) seniors, so they know when to turn it up,” Kiely said. “I just try to help by doing what I can, whether it’s blocking a pitch, or whatever it is, I’ll do it.”

For Deering, Harrison and Stanton each singled and tripled.

Harrison, Lynch, McGonagle and Randall scored runs.

Harrison had two RBI and Luke Hill finished with one.

The Rams left eight runners on.

Luke Hill fell to 2-2, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 6.2 innings. He walked four, struck out seven, threw a wild pitch, balked once and hit a batter.

“I thought Luke pitched a great game today,” said Stowell. “There were two or three hard-hit balls off him. Only Kiely hit him hard.”

Berg retired the only hitter he faced.

“We couldn’t quite put it together to make the comeback,” said Stowell. “We’ve talked about keeping a positive mindset and giving a positive effort every day, whether it’s practice or games. We didn’t quit and I have to give the kids credit. I’m happy how they finished the game out. The last three games were rough, so this is better.”

Running out of time

Deering (13th in the Class A South Heal Points standings, where 12 teams make the playoffs) has its next three games on the road, at Sanford Tuesday, Noble Thursday and Bonny Eagle next Saturday. The Rams then close at home versus Thornton Academy May 29.

“We have to right the ship,” Stowell said. “We’re the first spot out of the playoffs right now. The nice thing is that we control our own destiny. If we win, we’ll keep playing. If we don’t, we probably won’t make it in.”

Falmouth (now sixth in Class A South) has three of its final four games at home. Tuesday, the Yachtsmen welcome Massabesic. They host South Portland in a pivotal contest Wednesday, then play at Sanford next Saturday before finishing at home versus Biddeford Tuesday of next week.

“We realized we’re a better team than we thought we were and we’re really focused now,” Kiely said. “We really want it. We’re not scared of anyone. We’re ready to play anyone and fight for a state championship, just like last year.”

“We’re in position to make a run,” Winship said. “It is wide open. We just have to get in and who knows what can happen. We were right in the game with Portland, right with TA. We still have some Heal Points-game out there. I’d like to see us be a little more solid defensively. We’ll work on that so we can go on a playoff run.”

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

Falmouth senior pitcher Griffin Aube loses his hat as he throws a strike.

Deering starting pitcher Luke Hill delivers to Falmouth’s Sam Kidder.

Falmouth senior shortstop Garret Aube makes a throw.

Falmouth’s Sam Kidder steals second base as Deering’s Bobby Ridge takes the throw.

Falmouth’s Connor Coffin lays down a squeeze bunt to score Josh LeFevre.

Deering’s Luc Harrison makes contact for one of his two hits.

Deering shortstop Alex McGonagle takes the throw as Falmouth’s Josh LeFevre steals second base.

Falmouth’s Will Bopp, left, and Sam Manganello celebrate after crossing home plate.

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