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(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Cape Elizabeth game story, with additional photos and a detailed box score, please visit theforecaster.net)
For the first time, the Falmouth baseball team is king of Class B.
The Yachtsmen first had to win a regional title in improbable fashion, edging Cape Elizabeth, 1-0, in eight innings, despite being no-hit, then Saturday, secured their coronation with a 2-0 victory over Foxcroft Academy.
“I can’t be any happier,” said Falmouth coach Kevin Winship. “I remember at the beginning of the year, we thought we could be one of the teams who could compete. We got on a roll early. We got to 11-0 and I thought we might have a chance to do something special.”
The Yachtsmen made it to the semifinals last season before suffering a loss to Greely.
With the Rangers the heavy favorite this spring, not many mentioned Falmouth as a title threat coming into the year, but the Yachtsmen won 11 straight to start and wound up 13-3, good for the No. 2 seed in Western B.
Falmouth handled No. 10 Spruce Mountain, 7-3, in the quarterfinals, and defeated third-ranked Morse, 3-0, in the semifinals, thanks in large part to the pitching of lefty Thomas Fortier and the hitting of Ryan Conley, who clubbed his first high school home run at the most optimal time.
The Yachtsmen were scheduled to face Cinderella Cape Elizabeth, which had risen from the No. 9 seed with upsets over Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth, in the regional final Wednesday, but poor weather postponed it 24 hours and the teams met Thursday on the campus of St. Joseph’s College in Standish in a game that no one expected.
While Capers’ starter Sam Kozlowski didn’t allow a single hit, Falmouth’s Nick Spencer was superb as well, allowing just four hits and not a single run in eight innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, finally, the Yachtsmen broke through.
Connor Murphy drew a walk to lead off.
“I just wanted to get on base,” Murphy said.
Addison Foltmer bunted hard back to the mound, but Kozlowski chose to throw to first instead, trying to get the force and Murphy was in scoring position.
“When I heard them yell, ‘2!,’ I kicked it into higher gear and was relieved when they didn’t throw it down,” Murphy said.
Conley, Monday’s hero, then struck out swinging.
“I thought (Ryan would) win it again, it just didn’t happen, but he got us here,” Winship said.
That brought up Drew Proctor.
Proctor didn’t get a hit, or even swing the bat, but Falmouth won it anyway as Kozlowski’s pitch tipped off catcher Seth Dobieski’s glove and Murphy raced home, touched the plate and was mobbed by his teammates.
Falmouth1 Cape Elizabeth 0.
“We had played disciplined the whole game,” Murphy said. “We waited for our time. I knew I was going to score. I was ready for anything. I just took off and slid in. I couldn’t believe it.”
“I’ve never had more fun on a sports team than this,” Spencer said. “We’ve always been that team that finds a way to win. That was true tonight. We hit the ball OK, just at people. I knew the run would come eventually. That’s how we’ve been all year. We got it.”
“I’m very happy,” said Winship. “It wasn’t scripted this way, but looking at the scoreboard, we have a ‘1’ and they have a ‘0.’ I don’t care about the other numbers. It was a heck of a high school baseball game. It seems like we’ve been involved in one after another. I had a feeling we were going to do something. We did enough to win. When I walked over to (Connor), I said, We’ve got to go on a wild pitch.’ When the ball got by, I thought if it hit the brick we’d be in trouble. It hit the green, so we lucked out. It didn’t carom back and we scored.”
Spencer (4-1) earned the win, allowing just four hits and a walk, while striking out five.
“I definitely had my top stuff tonight,” said Spencer. “I threw my change-up really well. That’s kind of my go-to pitch.”
“Nicky pitched a hell of a game,” Murphy said. “When you pitch well, you give yourself a chance to win and we did that again today.”
There was no Falmouth offense to speak of, other than Murphy scoring the run.
Kozlowski (3-3) threw a no-hitter, but it went for naught. He walked five and struck out seven.
“You have to tip your cap to Kozlowski,” Winship said. “He threw a no-hitter and lost. I thought we hit the ball hard. They made some plays to save him. We were snakebit. There was nothing we could do.”
Falmouth, which won Class C championships in 1985, 1996 and 1998 met Foxcroft Academy for the first time in the Class B Final Saturday morning in Bangor.
The Yachtsmen didn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball in that one, producing five hits, but Conley delivered a two-run double in the second to score Will D’Agostino and Jeremy Lydick.
“Ryan Conley isn’t your typical No. 9 guy,” said Winship. “We had him in that spot basically as another leadoff guy for us. He runs the bases and he can hit for power. We felt as a staff, keeping him down in the nine hole, he’d see a lot of fastballs and people would take him for granted and think he was an easy out and he proved everybody wrong. He was comfortable in the nine hole. He came up with two very big hits for us (in the playoffs).”
Fortier did the rest, allowing just two hits and striking out six and Falmouth won, 2-0, ending the season at 17-3.
“Thomas really came into his own and really became the workhorse for us,” said Winship. “He finished the season 6-1 and got some big wins. We knew going in, he’s pitch a heck of a game. His last three games, he gave up a total of six hits. His ERA is well under 2. He’s really worked hard to become what I think is one of the best pitchers around right now. We didn’t really have a rotation and the start. We had Thomas, Nicky Spencer, Addison Foltmer and Connor Murphy and they pitched well all year long. I have to give credit to Craig Pendleton. He was the JV coach last year. He came up to be my assistant/pitching coach this year. It was nice to have him work with the varsity guys every day. He did a really good job. The kids executed the pitches he called and good things happened for us.”
Winship said the credit for this championship has to be spread throughout the roster.
“It was 1 through 9 this year,” Winship said. “Everyone helped in every game. Everybody that was there had a part in us winning. Whether it was having a small role or being the winning pitcher. Even the guys I brought up for the playoffs to help in practice. I was happy for all of them. Some things went our way. To win a championship, you have to have some luck. It happened for us.”
Falmouth will graduate Conley, Lydick, Spencer, centerfielder Grayson Beressi and Nate Dobson to graduation, but should have enough ammunition to make a legitimate run at a repeat crown.
“We still return our core nucleus,” Winship said. “We hope some of the younger kids who got a taste of it work hard in the offseason. They’ll play Junior Legion or Senior Legion. Hopefully they step up and fill the holes we need filled.”
Falmouth senior Nick Spencer was close to unhittable in the Western B Final Thursday, earning the victory after allowing just four hits in eight shutout innings.
The 2012 Class B baseball state champion Falmouth Yachtsmen:
Bottom row kneeling (left to right): Andrew Emple, Connor Murphy Jeremy Lydick, Nick Spencer, Nate Dobson, Ryan Conley (sitting), Grayson Beressi, Drew Proctor, coach Kevin Winship’s sons, Nick (Red Sox sweatshirt) and Colby (between Grayson and Drew).
Back row: Coach Kevin Winship, coach Bob Milliken, Cal Inlow, Connor McLeaney, Steve Segal, Zak Lydick,Will D’Agostino, Seamus Powers, Thomas Fortier, Noah Nelson, Connor MacDowell, Addison Foltmer, Patrick Lydon, Luke Velas, Ryan Mucci, coach Craig Pendleton.