FREEPORT—It might have been the 10:30 a.m. start time or even the aftermath of a tough loss Friday afternoon, but it took the Falmouth baseball team a few innings to hit its stride Saturday.
But the Yachtsmen ultimately did so and flexed their offensive muscle in a big way.
After the host Freeport Falcons jumped to a 2-0 second inning lead on back-to-back home runs from seniors Josh Weirich and Kaleb Farmer, Falmouth junior Thomas Fortier slammed the door and his teammates soon came to his rescue.
A clutch two-run double by junior Seamus Powers tied the score and opened the floodgates in the top of the third. The go-ahead run came in on an error and the Yachtsmen finished with four runs in that frame, added another in the fourth before erupting for six in the fifth to put it away.
Falmouth went on to a 12-2 victory behind a 13-hit attack, four turned double plays on defense and a Fortier six-hitter and improved to 13-2 on the year, ending the Falcons’ best regular season in nine years at 10-6.
“It was a great game,” said Falmouth coach Kevin Winship. “Our offense hasn’t been there the way we’d like it to be the past few games. Today, we just competed and we came around. We showed we can come back and battle. “
Both teams were coming off tough home losses Friday.
Freeport, which had won two straight, including a 7-0 decision at Yarmouth Wednesday, managed just one run in nine innings and struck out 15 times (nine looking) in a 2-1 setback at the hands of Fryeburg Academy.
Falmouth, which was undefeated prior to a 2-1 home loss to Greely last Saturday, bounced back with a hard-fought 4-2 victory at Cape Elizabeth Wednesday, but Friday, the Yachtsmen couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead and fell to rival Yarmouth, 6-4.
With playoff positioning and Heal Points at stake, the Falcons hoped to beat Falmouth for the first time since May 1, 2004 (9-2) and end a 10-game losing streak to the Yachtsmen (which included a heartbreaking 5-4 nine inning loss May 12 at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach), but it wasn’t to be.
Weirich got the start for Freeport on Senior Day and was impressive in the top of the first, getting Falmouth junior second baseman Drew Proctor to foul out to first, designated hitter Powers to pop out to shortstop and catching senior centerfielder Grayson Beressi looking at strike three.
Freeport senior rightfielder Zach Greene led off the bottom of the first with a single to right, but junior shortstop Connor Dietrich hit a sharp liner to Proctor, who threw to sophomore shortstop Will D’Agostino for a force at second and D’Agostino threw on to junior first baseman Andrew Emple to complete the double play. Fortier then retired senior centerfielder Luke LaMagna on a grounder to short to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the second, Emple led off with a wicked liner off senior third baseman Sawyer Williams’ glove for a single, but the Falcons showed they could turn the double play as well as D’Agostino hit a grounder to short and Dietrich threw to senior Patrick LaFlamme for one and LaFlamme threw on to Farmer to complete the twin killing. Weirich ended the frame by getting senior third baseman Nick Spencer to line out to left.
In the bottom half, the hosts appeared to take control of the game as Weirich led off with a high drive to left, which cleared the short porch for a 1-0 lead and Farmer followed and he left no doubt by pounding a high, arcing shot to center, which flew over the trees for another home run and a 2-0 advantage.
“They got us early with a couple home runs,” Winship said. “It’s a hitter’s ballpark. Thomas left a couple pitches up early and they took advantage and hit them out of the ballpark. He tried to sneak those fastballs by. They were supposed to be in. He left them up and in. They turned on them. They put them out.”
Fortier allowed a one-out single by senior catcher Jared Knighton, but again his defense bailed him out as after Knighton stole second, Williams lined to Emple, who made a nice catch and he caught Williams off second base to complete the double play, ending the inning.
Falmouth then put on its hitting shoes.
The Yachtsmen got a break to start the top of the third as senior catcher Jeremy Lydick reached on an error. He was wild pitched to second and sophomore leftfielder Addison Foltmer drew a walk. Weirich caught senior rightfielder Ryan Conley looking at strike three, but Proctor walked to load the bases, bringing up Powers in a key spot.
The designated was true to the task by placing a ball in a tiny window to tie the score. Powers hit a liner down the first base line, just over the bag. Farmer dove and missed the ball (and a likely double play in the process) by mere inches and the ball trickled down the rightfield line, scoring Lydick and Foltmer to tie the score.
“We just tried to stay calm, cool and collected,” said Powers. “We have so many weapons on offense. We’ve gotten a lot of wins, but a lot of our wins have come late. It was nice to get some runs early. We had a good situation with the bases loaded. It was awful close to the line. I snuck it through. I got a pitch to turn on. It went right on the line. I was fortunate there.”
Beressi followed by hitting a ground ball that wasn’t handled, Proctor came home with the go ahead run and Falmouth was ahead to stay, 3-2.
“We weren’t concerned,” Beressi said. “It was early in the game and we knew we could come back. Once one person gets the bats going, everybody followed.”
Weirich got out of further trouble with striking out Emple and getting D’Agostino to fly to center and that was it for his day on the mound.
Fortier began to settle in in the bottom of the third, retiring the Falcons in order.
In the top of the fourth, the Yachtsmen made it 4-2 against Farmer as with two outs and no one on base, Foltmer singled to center, Conley walked and Proctor’s single to left-center scored Foltmer.
In the bottom half, Fortier again set Freeport down 1-2-3 and that set the stage for his teammates to put it away.
Beressi took one for the team to start the fifth, getting hit by Farmer on an 0-2 pitch. Emple singled to left and D’Agostino followed with a base hit to center to load the bases.
After Spencer ripped the ball right at the centerfielder, driving in Beressi on a sacrifice fly, Lydick blooped a single to center to reload the bases.
Foltmer then came up big with a single to center, driving in Emple and D’Agostino to make it 7-2.
“It’s typical high school baseball,” Winship said. “In high school baseball, you walk or hit a guy, he’s probably going to score. Addison had a really big hit with the bases loaded.”
That ended Farmer’s stint and he was replaced by Dietrich, who immediately gave up a double to Conley to deep left, scoring Lydick. Proctor lined to right to score junior pinch-runner Connor Murphy and Powers delivered his third RBI, a single to center, scoring Conley for a 10-2 bulge.
“Seamus came up with big hits,” said Fortier.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fortier retired his eighth straight hitter, getting junior designated hitter Nick Cartmell to swing at strike three, but he then hit Knighton.
Freeport couldn’t capitalize as junior third baseman Dan Burke grounded into a force out and LaFlamme flew out to center.
The Yachtsmen’s 11th run came in the top of the sixth against new pitcher, junior James Purdy. D’Agostino led off with a single to left and moved up to second on an error. After Spencer grounded out sharply to short to move D’Agostino to third, he scored on a deep sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Lydick.
Fortier surrendered a one-out single to senior pinch-hitter D.J. Mooney in the bottom half, but LaMagna bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
“We’ve been good defensively all year,” Beressi said. “That’s what’s keeping us in there.”
Beressi accounted for the final score with a booming homer to center with two down in the top of the seventh.
“You just kind of swing for line drives,” Beressi said. “If (a home run) happens, it happens. Off the bat, yeah, I thought I got it.”
In the bottom half, Farmer singled to center with one out, but fittingly, Falmouth turned its fourth double play to end the game.
Cartmell lined back to the mound and with Farmer heading to second, Fortier tossed to Emple and that brought the curtain down on the 12-2 victory.
Falmouth rapped out 13 hits, including two each from D’Agostino, Emple, Foltmer, Powers and Proctor. Conley and Powers doubled, while Beressi homered. Powers had three RBI, Beressi, Foltmer and Proctor two apiece and Conley, Lydick and Spencer all drove in one run. Beressi, D’Agostino, Foltmer and Lydick each had two runs scored. Conley, Emple, Murphy and Proctor touched home plate once apiece.
“One through nine, we can get it going, but the core of our team has really been our pitching staff,” Powers said. “They have an insane ERA. They keep us in it. When our hitting gets going, we’re really tough to beat.”
“I thought we did a good job running the bases,” said Winship. “It was a good performance all the way around.”
Fortier improved to 3-1 with a six-hitter. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter, but he did hit one.
“Coming off the Greely game, my speed wasn’t all there,” said Fortier. “People made plays behind me. It’s a small field.”
“(Thomas has) pitched great against Greely and Yarmouth earlier and got us big wins,” said Powers.
“Thomas was cruising,” Winship added. “He gave up just two hits after the second inning.”
Freeport’s lone multiple hitter was Farmer, who homered, as did Weirich. That tandem had the team’s lone runs and RBI. Knighton had a stolen base.
“We were OK at the plate,” said Falcons coach Hank Ogilby. “We hit those couple home runs, but (Fortier) settled down and we couldn’t hit the ball hard. Yesterday was a disaster. We just stopped swinging the bats. I told them today to get their swings in. We were more aggressive. We had bonehead plays in the field that didn’t help us.”
Weirich took the loss after giving up three runs (one earned) on two hits, two walks and a wild pitch in his three innings. He did strike out three. Farmer surrendered six runs on six hits in 1.1 innings. Dietrich allowed one earned run on three hits in 0.2 innings. Purdy allowed two runs on two hits in his two innings.
“(Falmouth’s) a very good hitting club,” Ogilby said. “Josh is a good pitcher, but he’s had elbow problems all year long. We tried to keep him to one inning. It’s Senior Day, so he wanted the start, but we all knew he wasn’t going to go very far. Our top two pitchers were ineligible, so we went to the bullpen and they can hit well. Every time we put people on base, they made us pay for it. That was the big difference.”
Freeport finished the year 10-6, its best regular season record since an 11-5 mark in 2003.
“It’s not the end,” said Ogilby. “We’ll take a break, take a rest. I think we’ll get back to some fundamentals. You think as the season goes on you have all these good things in place, but sometimes they can slip. We have to fix a couple things.
“It’s been a lot of fun, other than today. When you have the attitude where you think you can win, it just changes the whole dynamic. As opposed to showing up and trying not to get 10-run ruled, or hoping you might win, these guys show up really feeling they can win. We haven’t done it the past two days, but it’s a different feeling and it’s fun.”
The Falcons will take part in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They were seventh in the Western B Heal Points standings at press time and will likely host a preliminary round game on Tuesday, June 5. It’s possible the Falcons and Falmouth could meet in the quarterfinals.
Freeport last won a postseason game in 1985.
“I don’t know who we’re going to draw,” Ogilby said. “Sawyer’s pitching well for us. He can keep us in any game. It’s just a question of can our lineup hit?”
Falmouth likely sewed up the No. 2 spot behind Greely with the victory. The Yachtsmen close the regular season at home versus Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday.
“We’d like to see who we’ll get in that first round,” Fortier said.
“I feel really good,” said Beressi. “We’re doing really well. I’m confident. I think we have a good chance in the playoffs.”
“I’m pretty sure we’re going 2 or 3,” added Winship. “We’re just happy to be in the playoffs. We’ll see what happens. We’re playing great baseball. They’re a great group of kids. They’ve worked hard since we started back in March. We’ll keep it going. We’re looking forward to good playoffs.”
Falmouth junior Thomas Fortier delivers a pitch during the win. Fortier overcame a shaky second inning and went the distance.
Freeport senior starting pitcher Josh Weirich throws a strike. Weirich homered to stake the Falcons to an early lead. He lasted three innings on the hill.
Freeort senior leftfielder makes a catch.
Falmouth sophomore Will D’Agostino slides into third base while Freeport junior Dan Burke takes the throw too late.
Falmouth sophomore Will D’Agostino slides into second after a single and an error while Freeport sophomore Niko DiFazio takes the throw during the sixth inning of the Yachtsmen’s 12-2 victory Saturday morning.