(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Morse and Freeport-Cape Elizabeth game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
It was a rough week for baseball teams in Forecaster Country, but one was left standing at press time.
The Falmouth Yachtsmen qualified for their first ever Western Class B Final after a pair of playoff victories.
The Yachstmen, seeded second in the region after a 13-3 regular season, had little trouble downing No. 10 Spruce Mountain, 7-3, in the quarterfinals last Thursday. Thomas Fortier threw a four-hitter with six strikeouts, while Grayson Beressi and Drew Proctor both had two hits and Will D’Agostino and Ryan Conley each had two RBI.
A semifinal showdown versus No. 3 Morse, scheduled for Saturday, was postponed to Monday due to rain and poor field conditions. It proved to be worth the wait as Fortier was able to start again and this time, he threw a two-hitter, with 11 strikeouts.
After Fortier worked out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth, Conley gave Falmouth all the offense it would need with a two-run home run to center.
“At the beginning of the at-bat, I was bunting (to move the runner over), but once I fouled the pitch off, I had to do something to make up for it,” Conley said. “It was hit-and-run, so I had to swing at the next pitch. I made nice contact. It was the pitch I was looking for, right down the middle. I knew it when I hit it. It felt good. We deserved it. I knew we’d score. It happened in a dramatic way, but it happened.”
Beressi singled in a third run and the Yachtsmen prevailed, 3-0.
“I had butterflies, but I was excited,” Fortier said. “I had to buckle down. My curveball had a lot of life on it today and I hit spots.”
“That was a great game,” said Yachtsmen coach Kevin Winship. “It seems like we’ve been in some pretty good ones. We had a couple big hits to break it open and got the win.”
Falmouth advanced to meet surprising No. 9 Cape Elizabeth (11-8) in Wednesday’s regional final, after the Capers wreaked havoc in Forecaster Country with playoff wins over Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth (more on that in a moment).
The Yachtsmen won both regular season meetings, 10-5 at home and 4-2 in Cape Elizabeth. They also won the most recent playoff encounter, 2-1, in last year’s quarterfinals.
“Cape’s a solid team,” said Winship. “They’re playing with house money. They’re playing well. We know each other well. It’s a big rivalry. I expect a really good game. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Falmouth-Cape Elizabeth winner will face either defending state champion Waterville (17-1) or Foxcroft Academy (14-5) in the Class B state final Saturday at 11 a.m., in Bangor.
As for the other local playoff qualifiers, they all went home courtesy Cape Elizabeth last week.
The first victim was Freeport, which went 10-6 during the regular year, the program’s best record since back-to-back 11-5 marks in 2002 and 2003 (when they still played in Class C). The Falcons earned the No. 8 seed for the tournament. Freeport and the Capers split in the regular season. The preliminary round game was the first time the programs had met in the postseason.
The Falcons left the bases loaded in the first inning and never seriously threatened again. Cape Elizabeth scored twice in the second inning and added single runs in the fourth and sixth as it ended Freeport’s season at 10-7 with a 4-0 decision.
The Falcons didn’t finish as strongly as they hoped, but the 2012 season was an unmitigated success nonetheless.
“It’s been fun,” Freeport coach Hank Ogilby said. “What I like to see as a coach is (the guys) play a high level of baseball and have success in an competitive atmosphere. They deserved that. The seniors deserved this chance. It didn’t work out the way anybody wanted, but we got to play at home with a nice crowd hooting and hollering.”
Even though 10 key contributors are departing, it won’t be wise to write off the 2013 Falcons.
“People don’t talk about this very often, but our entire infield is underclassmen,” said Ogilby. “We’ll field almost the same infield. Our pitching will be solid. Actually, I feel pretty positive about next year.”
Cape Elizabeth then pulled the shocker of the playoffs at No. 1 Greely in the quarterfinals.
The Rangers lost 1-0 to Waterville in last year’s state final and were favored by many to finish the job this spring. Greely didn’t disappoint in the regular season, winning 15 of 16 games, including an 8-0 win over the Capers.
The teams’ playoff history might have hinted at the upset to come as so often in the past (Greely had won five of the previous nine postseason encounters) the lower seeded team prevailed.
It happened again.
The Rangers were only behind 2-1 after five innings, but Cape Elizabeth scored four runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to take a 9-3 lead to the bottom of the seventh. To its credit, Greely didn’t give up, scoring three times, but that’s as close as it got and the Rangers’ season ended at 15-2 with a 9-6 loss.
“Cape played really well, start to finish, and I tip my hat to them,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “We had a great season, something we should be proud of and unfortunately we didn’t play our best in the end. That can happen in a single elimination format. My heart goes out to the seniors, they played hard to the bitter end. They are a great group of kids who we will greatly miss.”
As always, the Rangers will be a contender in 2013.
Yarmouth, a surprising 10-6 in the regular season, good for the No. 4 seed, managed to win its first playoff game, handling No. 5 Maranacook, 9-2.
The Clippers scored twice in the first, three times in the third and two more times in the fourth as they pulled away behind a two-hitter from Chester Jacobs. Eamon Costello had four hits and scored twice. Max Grimm had three hits. Calvin Cooper had two hits and two RBI. Bryce Snyder had three runs scored.
Saturday, Yarmouth welcomed Cape Elizabeth, a team it swept in the regular season. The teams’ only prior playoff meeting was a 5-1 Capers’ triumph in the 2010 regional final.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Clippers drew even on Nick Lainey’s RBI single. The game stayed 1-1 for a long time and Yarmouth almost won it in the ninth, but Grimm’s potential game-winner was denied by a diving catch. Cape Elizabeth then broke it open in the 10th, scoring six times to win, 7-1, ending the Clippers’ season at 11-7.
“It was a great high school baseball game,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted. “(Capers pitcher) Will LeBlond was fantastic and he gutted out 10 innings on just three days rest. He didn’t blow it by us, but he continuously kept us off balance, mixed in a great change-up, and got key outs in important situations. The bottom line is that (Cape Elizabeth coach) Chris Hayward is the best coach in our league for a reason. He made the right calls at the right times, kept rolling Will out there for 10 innings and orchestrated a fantastic 10th inning rally. They earned it and I’m rooting for them. They’re a great group of kids and I have a ton of respect for Chris and what he’s done there.”
While the loss was painful, it pales in comparison to how much the Clippers accomplished in 2012.
“We had a very positive season,” Halsted said. “We technically replaced all nine starters this year and only had two returning starters who had to play new positions. In the Cape playoff game, eight juniors played significant innings or got important at bats. The hardest part is saying goodbye to seniors like Bryce Snyder, Eamon Costello, Max Grimm, and Andrew Turcotte. They’ve all given so much to our program. Bryce leaves as the all-time leader in doubles and the single-season record holder in both doubles (10) and RBI (29). Eamon set our single-season runs record this year and stole 17 bases. Max handled 115 chances at first base this year and made only one error. Turcotte was an very important part of our team and pitching staff. They’re great kids and I’ll miss them a lot.”
Look out for Yarmouth in 2013.
“Our program continues to grow because of our commitment to summer baseball and I’m already looking to a great Junior and Senior Legion season,” Halsted said. “With kids like Caleb Uhl, Tom Sullivan and Calvin Cooper we’ll certainly contend for a good playoff spot (next year).”
Yarmouth senior Bryce Snyder is tagged out at home during the Clippers’ 7-1 10 inning home loss to Cape Elizabeth in Saturday’s Western Class B semifinal.