Greely senior A.J. Eisenhart (9) is congratulated after scoring the Rangers’ first run in Friday’s 7-2 win at Cape Elizabeth.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
G- 000 122 2- 7 4 0
CE- 101 000 0- 2 4 1
Weare doubled to left-center, Tinsman scored.
Agrodnia singled to left, Tinsman scored.
Kiesow grounded out to short, Eisenhart scored.
Eisenhart walked, MacDonald scored. Miller grounded out to second, Nolin scored.
Butler walked, Strout scored. Eisenhart walked, MacDonald scored.
Neleski scored on error. Whiting grounded out to second, Kiesow scored.
G- MacDonald 2, Eisenhart, Kiesow, Neleski, Nolin, Strout
CE- Tinsman 2
G- Eisenhart 2, Butler, Kiesow, Miller, Whiting
CE- Agrodnia, Weare
CE- Tinsman, Weare
Left on base:
Neleski and Smith; Weare, Bowe (5), Weare (6), Bakke (6), Cole Hoffman (7) and Tinsman
Neleski (W, 2-2) 7 IP 4 H 2 R 2 ER 1 BB 6 K 1 WP 2 HBP
Weare (L, 2-1) 5.1 IP 2 H 3 R 3 ER 3 BB 4 K 2 HBP
Bowe 0.1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K
Bakke 0.1 IP 1 H 2 R 2 ER 3 BB 1 K
Cole Hoffman 1 IP 1 H 2 R 0 ER 3 BB 1
CAPE ELIZABETH—Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Greely’s baseball team has its struggles during the regular season, but late in the year, begins to figure it out and looms as a dangerous playoff adversary.
The 2018 Rangers are writing a very familiar script and in Friday’s penultimate game of the regular year, suggested that they, again, could be very formidable when the games matter most.
Facing Cape Elizabeth, on the Capers’ Senior Day, at Holman Field, Greely took advantage of Cape Elizabeth’s pitching wildness to earn a key victory which moved it up the standings.
The Capers, who had beaten the Rangers four straight times, appeared poised for another victory when senior starting pitcher Ryan Weare doubled home senior catcher Brendan Tinsman in the bottom of the first inning and senior first baseman Sean Agrodnia singled home Tinsman in the third.
Weare didn’t allow a hit through three innings, but in the top of the fourth, Greely got its offense going, as senior second baseman A.J. Eisenhart scored on a ground out off the bat of senior third baseman Eben Kiesow.
The Rangers went on top to stay in the fifth, as Eisenhart drew a walk with the bases loaded to tie it and the go-ahead run scored on a ground out by senior centerfielder Luke Miller.
Four more walks led to two more runs in the sixth, as both sophomore shortstop Nick Butler and Eisenhart drew four balls with the bases loaded.
Greely put it away with two more runs in the seventh, on a throwing error and a ground ball, and junior Will Neleski went the distance and slammed the door on the 7-2 victory.
The Rangers drew nine walks and played error-less ball as they improved to 9-6 and dropped the Capers to 10-5 in the process.
“It feels great to beat Cape,” Eisenhart said. “They swept us three games last year and beat us earlier in the season. It’s a huge Heal Points game.”
In a season devoid of a clear favorite, the Capers and Rangers both believe they could be the best team in Class B South before all is said and done.
Cape Elizabeth started with a 13-3 (six-inning) home win over Leavitt, then won at Greely in a 13-inning playoff rematch, 4-1. The Capers then downed host Lake Region (16-0, in five-innings), visiting York (4-1), host Freeport (8-2) and visiting Fryeburg Academy, 4-0, before falling from the unbeaten ranks with a 3-0 home loss to Freeport. Cape Elizabeth then won, 2-1, in nine-innings, at Yarmouth before dropping an 8-6 home decision to Wells and a 4-2 decision at York. After blanking visiting Poland, 5-0, the Capers fell, 4-2, at Wells, but Monday, they rallied for a 4-3 walkoff victory over Yarmouth and Wednesday, they downed host St. Dom’s, 3-1.
Greely started with a 4-1 13-inning home loss to Cape Elizabeth, then got in the win column by downing visiting Wells (7-3) and host Gray-New Gloucester (15-2, in five-innings). The Rangers fell at home to York (11-2), then downed visiting Yarmouth (13-2, in five-innings). After a 6-2 home loss to Freeport, Greely won at home over Lake Region (8-7), at Fryeburg Academy (5-2) and at Poland (12-2). After 3-2 losses at both Oxford Hills and Yarmouth, the Rangers blanked visiting Sacopee Valley (4-0) and Lincoln Academy (2-0). Monday, Greely lost at Wells, 5-0,.
Entering play Friday, the Capers held a 20-18 edge in games contested dating to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below) and in the last meeting, April 23, Cape Elizabeth needed 13 long innings and 2-hours and 57-minutes to finally outlast host Greely, 4-1.
This time around, only seven innings and 110 minutes were needed as the Rangers managed to beat the Capers for the first time since May 27, 2016 (8-4 at home).
After a Senior Day ceremony honored nine Cape Elizabeth players and their families, Weare took the mound and made quick work of Greely, getting Butler to bounce out to second, Eisenhart to ground into the hole where Capers senior shortstop Finn Bowe made a nice scoop and throw, and Miller to watch strike three.
Cape Elizabeth’s bats then went to work in the bottom half.
Bowe led off with a single past senior first baseman Nate Cyr, then was erased as Tinsman lined the ball to Butler, who dropped it, but still had time to throw to second for the force. After Tinsman stole second, junior rightfielder Jameson Bakke struck out swinging, but Weare came through, driving a first-pitch fastball deep to left-center to easily score Tinsman for a 1-0 lead. Neleski then hit Agrodnia with a pitch, but escaped further damage by getting senior third baseman Carson Sullivan to ground out to second.
Neleski led off the top of the second by fouling out to first and Kiesow watched strike three. After Weare hit junior leftfielder Jacob Whiting with a pitch, Cyr struck out looking as well.
Neleski settled down in the bottom half, getting Murphy to ground out to Eisenhart at second, who made a terrific play going to his right before his throw was just in time, senior centerfielder Cooper Hoffman to ground out to second as well and freshman designated hitter Jake Tinsman to strike out swinging.
Greely went quietly again in the top of the third, as sophomore designated hitter Jake MacDonald grounded out to third on the first pitch, freshman rightfielder Brady Nolin flew out to left and Butler bounced out to third.
The Capers then added to their lead, but could have had more in the bottom half.
After Bowe popped out to second, Brendan Tinsman got ahead in the count, 3-0, Neleski threw a couple strikes, then after a couple foul balls, Tinsman crushed the ball to right-center and it short-hopped the wall for a double. Neleski then hit Bakke with an 0-2 pitch and the runners moved up on a wild pitch. Weare struck out looking, but Agrodnia lined a single to the hole between short and third. Tinsman scored easily, but Bakke had no chance as Whiting came up firing and junior catcher Aiden Smith applied the tag to keep the score 2-0.
“That was a big play,” Neleski said. “We came off the field knowing it was our chance to take momentum and get some runs.”
That awakened the Rangers, who got some offense going in the top of the fourth.
Eisenhart drew a walk leading off and after Miller struck out swinging, Neleski delivered the visitors’ first hit, a single to center to put runners at the corners. Kiesow followed with a tailor made double play ball, but after catching Bowe’s throw for a force out, Murphy couldn’t hold on to the ball and Kiesow reached safely with Eisenhart coming home to cut the deficit to 2-1. Whiting grounded out to second to send the game to the bottom of the fourth.
There, Cape Elizabeth went quickly, as Neleski got Sullivan to line to right, where Nolin made a nice diving catch, Murphy to pop out to short and Hoffman to ground out to third.
Greely then took the lead in the top of the fifth.
After Cyr grounded out to short, Weare hit MacDonald with a pitch and Nolin drove a pitch over junior leftfielder Alec Riggle’s head for a double, his first varsity hit.
“We had two guys making their first varsity start today,” said longtime Rangers coach Derek Soule. “Jake MacDonald in the eight spot and Brady Nolin in the nine spot. They gave us a nice spark. That was (Brady’s) first varsity hit. It makes you wonder what I was thinking, waiting this long.”
Capers coach Andy Wood then had Butler walked intentionally, bringing Eisenhart to the plate. With the count 2-2, Eisenhart took a close pitch for a ball, then did the same on a full-count offering to draw a walk and bring MacDonald home with the tying run.
“I saw their coach talking and then they walked (Butler),” Eisenhart said. “I wanted to get a hit and I almost swung, but I think I have a good zone.”
Miller was next and he grounded to Murphy, who threw to Bowe for a force out, but Cape Elizabeth couldn’t turn the double play and Nolin came home for a 3-2 lead.
Bowe replaced Weare on the mound, for the moment, and got Neleski to line to center, where Hoffman made the latest in a series of his great defensive plays, diving to rob Neleski of extra bases and keeping the Capers within a run.
Cape Elizabeth tried to answer in the bottom half, but after Jake Tinsman struck out swinging and Bowe walked on a 3-2 pitch, Brendan Tinsman got jammed and grounded back to the mound for a force out and Bakke bounced back to the mound as well.
Weare returned to the mound in the top of the sixth, but he wouldn’t last, as Greely drew four walks.
Kiesow popped to third to start the inning and Whiting grounded out to short, where Bowe made a terrific throw from the hole, but the trouble started when Cyr walked on a 3-2 pitch.
That did it for Weare, who was replaced by Bakke, who was greeted by a single down the leftfield line by MacDonald. Nolin drew a walk and on a 3-2 pitch, Butler did the same to bring home senior pinch-runner Matt Strout for a 4-2 lead. Eisenhart then worked the count full and for the second time, drew ball four to score MacDonald with yet another run.
“We took what they gave us,” Soule said. “There were some big walks. It’s not like we were looking for walks. Our guys were aggressive. That’s the mentality we want to have.”
Miller had a chance to break the game open, but he struck out, leaving Greely on top by three.
Neleski made quick work of the Capers in the bottom half, striking out Weare swinging, getting Agrodnia to fly out to left and Sullivan to pop out to second.
Sophomore Cole Hoffman came on to pitch in the top of the seventh and the Rangers added two more runs.
Neleski led off with a walk and Kiesow laid down a bunt down the third base line which he easily beat out for a single. Sullivan made a desperation throw and the ball got away for an error, allowing Neleski to come home, sliding to barely avoid Brendan Tinsman’s tag, and Kiesow to go to third base. Kiesow then scored when Whiting grounded out to second. Cyr walked, but MacDonald struck out and after Nolin walked, Butler lined to left where Riggle made a nice diving catch to retire the side.
Neleski slammed the door in the bottom half, getting Murphy to ground to short, Cooper Hoffman to bounce out to short and senior pinch-hitter Alex Bozek to chase strike three to bring an end to Greely’s 7-2 victory.
“We haven’t started well lately, but the way we bounced back was amazing,” Eisenhart said. “We got the energy up and everyone started talking and we matched their energy and maybe a little more.”
“Our goal was to get runners on base,” Neleski said. “When we do, we always have a chance to win.”
“We had a shaky start, but we’re challenging ourselves to be mentally tougher, trying to have more of a short-term memory,” Soule added. “The way we started, earlier this year, we may not have been able to come back, but I’m pleased with where we are now.”
Greely only managed four hits, but still scored seven times, as MacDonald touched home plate twice and Kiesow, Miller, Neleski, Nolin and Strout all scored once.
Eisenhart had two RBI and Butler, Kiesow, Miller and Whiting also drove in a run.
The Rangers stranded nine runners, but it didn’t matter.
Neleski evened his record at 2-2 after giving up two runs on four hits in a complete game effort. Neleski walked just one, fanned six, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch.
Neleski went eight innings in the teams’ first meeting and didn’t earn a decision, but this time around, he was rewarded for a strong outing.
“I found a groove and hit my spots and we made some nice defensive plays,” Neleski said. “The longer I pitch, the more I find my spots.”
“Will was great last time too,” Eisenhart said. “He knows how to pitch to these guys. He pitched a great game.”
“Will’s done a nice job all year,” Soule added. “The first time we played these guys, he pitched eight innings and deserved to win. He deserves more wins than he’s gotten. He’s a competitor. He knows how to pitch. He really settled in. Mid-70s pitch total for a seven inning game, that’s the best we’ve had in many years.”
For Cape Elizabeth, Tinsman scored twice. Agrodnia and Weare had RBI. Tinsman had a stolen base.
The Capers left four runners on base.
Weare fell to 2-1 after giving up three earned runs on two hits and three walks in 5.1 innings over two stints. Weare struck out four and hit two batters.
Bowe pitched a scoreless third of an inning.
Bakke also pitched a third of an inning, but he surrendered two earned runs on one hit and three walks while fanning one.
Cole Hoffman gave up two unearned runs on one hit in his inning of work. He walked three and struck out one.
“In the overall scheme of things, I think we have the No. 2 seed locked in, so this game didn’t really mean much,” Wood said. “It was Senior Night and it stinks to lose to Greely, but it really didn’t matter. It’s a great win for them and it’s always tough to beat Greely.”
Each team will wrap up their regular season on the road.
Cape Elizabeth (second to Wells in the Class B South Heal Points standings at press time) goes to Gray-New Gloucester for its finale Monday.
“We’re not really concerned,” Wood said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody. We’re lining up to get ready for the playoffs. We just need to get the bats going.”
Greely (which moved up to fifth in the Class B South by virtue of the victory) closes at Lake Region Tuesday.
“I think we’re starting to peak,” said Neleski. “We’ve lost some close games against good teams, but to beat Cape is pretty exciting. We have to keep getting runners on base and hit the ball. We can’t watch pitches go by.”
“We’re ready to make a run,” Eisenhart said. “We have to keep the energy the whole game. We’ve either had a lot of pitching and no hitting, or a lot of hitting and no pitching, but I think we’re putting it all together. We have to be focused every game.”
“We have to worry about a good Lake Region team Tuesday, then we’ll see where the chips fall,” Soule added. “There’s a lot of parity in the conference. Anybody can beat anybody. If we show up with good mental toughness, we can beat anyone. If we don’t, anyone can beat us. It’ll make for an interesting playoffs.”
Greely junior pitcher Will Neleski went the distance and earned the victory.
Cape Elizabeth senior starter Ryan Weare throws a strike.
Cape Elizabeth junior Jameson Bakke is tagged out by Greely junior catcher Aiden Smith.
Cape Elizabeth senior shortstop Finn Bowe looks to turn a double play after Greely senior A.J. Eisenhart slides into second.
Cape Elizabeth senior Val Murphy forces a Greely runner at second base.
Greely senior second baseman A.J. Eisenhart makes a throw on the run.
Cape Elizabeth senior catcher Brendan Tinsman makes contact.
Greely sophomore Jake MacDonald stretches to reach first as Cape Elizabeth senior first baseman Sean Agrodnia takes the throw.
Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Greely 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (8)
Class B South quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Greely 4
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 4
Greely 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 0
Western B Final
Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1 (8)
@ Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 1
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (8)
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 4
@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 0
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Greely 6
Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Greely 4 (9)
Cape Elizabeth 7 Greely 4 (@ OOB)
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 5
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 2
Western B semifianls
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3 (8)
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Greely 3
Western B semifinals
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (10)
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Greely 1
Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 5
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1
@ Greely 11 Cape Elizabeth 10
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 1
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 6
Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 13 Cape Elizabeth 3 (5)