Greely's two-out magic spells a victory at Yarmouth

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Greely’s Jonathan Piesik (1) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a run in the fifth inning of the Rangers’ 7-1 win at Yarmouth Thursday.

Derek Davis / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 7 Yarmouth 1

G- 210 111 1- 7 8 4
Y- 000 001 0- 1 5 2

Top 1st
Whiting doubled to left, Nolin and Neleski scored.

Top 2nd
Butler singled to left, Lyden scored.

Top 4th
Butler singled to left, Wyman scored.

Top 5th
Piesik scored on passed ball.

Top 6th
Nolin singled to center, MacDonald scored.

Bottom 6th
Venden scored on error.

Top 7th
Kolben singled to left, Walker scored.

Multiple hits:
G- Butler, Nolin
Y- Romano

Runs:
G- Lyden, MacDonald, Neleski, Nolin, Piesik, Walker, Wyman
Y- Venden

RBI:
G- Butler, Whiting 2, Kolben, Nolin

Doubles:
G- Nolin, Whiting

Stolen bases:
G- Butler, MacDonald, McFarland, Wyman

Left on base:
G- 8
Y- 5

Neleski and Smith; Lainey, Gautreau (5), Dickinson (7) and Brown.

G:
Neleski (W, 1-0) 7 IP 5 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 9 K 

Y:
Lainey (L, 0-1) 4.2 IP 6 H 5 R 3 ER 4 BB 3 K  1 WP
Gautreau 1.1 IP 1 H 1 R 1 ER 1 BB 2 K 1 Balk
Dickinson 1 IP 1 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 1 K 1 HBP 1 WP

Time: 2:00

YARMOUTH—Hitting in the clutch is a sign of a good team and so far this spring, the Greely Rangers have been a very good baseball team.

Thursday afternoon, under very welcome sunny skies, Greely scored six runs with two outs and rode the right arm of senior ace Will Neleski to a 7-1 victory at rival Yarmouth.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, when senior third baseman Jacob Whiting hit a two-out, bases loaded double off Clippers junior starting pitcher Jason Lainey.

In the second, junior shortstop Nick Butler rapped a two-out single to make it 3-0 

With Neleski frustrating the Yarmouth offense, Greely continued to add to the lead with single runs in the top of the fourth (on another two-out Butler RBI single), fifth (when pinch-runner Jonathan Piesik scored on a passed ball) and sixth (on a two-out single from sophomore rightfielder Brady Nolin) and after the Clippers scored an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth, the Rangers tacked on one more run in the seventh, on freshman pinch-hitter Ryan Kolben’s RBI single, and went on to a 7-1 victory.

Neleski allowed just five hits and one unearned run as he went the distance and Butler and Whiting each drove in a pair of runs as Greely improved to 3-0 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 1-2.

“We have an experienced group, so the work that we do in the gym or the parking lot, or on the middle school field, the key is getting some live pitching and when we do go against live pitching, we have good pitchers, so that really helped us,” said Rangers coach Derek Soule. “When you don’t have any preseason games, it helps to face quality pitchers in practice.”

On a mission

The Rangers have gotten the better of the Clippers over the past several years, entering play Wednesday having gone 11-1-1 in the past 13 meetings (see sidebar, below), but Yarmouth managed to split the season series last spring.

Greely has started fast in 2019, beating “visiting” Fryeburg Academy, 9-2, in a game played in Old Orchard Beach and Monday, blanking host Cape Elizabeth, 8-0.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, started with a 7-1 loss at York, then got in the win column last Friday, 4-1, over visiting Gardiner.

The sun finally made an appearance Thursday and the teams did battle under 54 degree skies. The Clippers hoped to beat the Rangers twice in a row for the first time since the 2010 season, but Greely had other ideas.

Lainey got junior leftfielder Jake MacDonald to look at strike three to start the game, then induced a fly out to left off the bat of Butler, but Nolin doubled down the leftfield line, Neleski was walked intentionally and senior designed hitter Connor Sullivan walked to load the bases, to bring up Whiting.

Whiting fell behind in the count, 0-2, then went down and crushed an offering deep to left, over the head of Yarmouth sophomore leftfielder Will Dickinson. Nolin and Neleski scored easily and Sullivan tried to come home as well, but Dickinson threw to junior shortstop Aidan Hickey, who got the ball to senior second baseman Toby Burgmaier, who threw home to senior catcher Caleb Brown, who applied the tag for the out which ended the inning.

Regardless, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead.

The Clippers tried to answer in the bottom half and hit the ball hard, but had nothing to show for it.

Sophomore third baseman Will Cox led off and lofted a fly ball down the rightfield line which drifted foul, but Nolin got to it with a dive and recorded the out. Lainey then crushed the ball right at senior second baseman Will Lyden, who caught it for the second out. Senior centerfielder Jack Romano singled up the middle, but Burgmaier grounded out to second to end the threat.

Senior first baseman Joe Cimino walked on a 3-2 pitch to start the top of the second and moved to second when Lyden’s ground ball got past sophomore first baseman Jack McGrath for an error, allowing Lyden to reach first. After senior centerfielder Evan Wyman sacrificed the runners up, MacDonald grounded to third and Cimino took off for home. Cox threw to Brown and Cimino reversed course, but Hickey took a throw, threw to Cox, then got the ball back and tagged Cimino out for the second out of the inning.

That all proved to be a moot point, when Butler came up with two down and singled to left, scoring Lyden to make it 3-0.

“I just looked for my pitch,” Butler said. “I don’t chase. I don’t want to help out the pitcher. I just want to make solid contact and it will wind up somewhere I want.”

“Last year, we were strictly a top of the order team, but since we’re a team full of veterans this year, we all can hit the ball,” Neleski said.

Nolin popped out to second, but Yarmouth’s deficit was steeper.

Hickey grounded out to short to start the bottom of the second. McGrath then reached and moved to second on Butler’s throwing error, but he’d be stranded when sophomore rightfielder Max Brewer flew out to right and senior designated hitter John Jordan looked at strike three.

Lainey had his lone 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third, getting Neleski to line out to left, Sullivan to line out to center and Whiting to watch strike three.

In the bottom half, Neleski had a 1-2-3 inning as well. Dickinson struck out swinging, Cox bounced back to the mound and Lainey ripped a shot to the gap in right-center, which Nolin ran down and dove to record the third out.

“This defense is probably the best defense I’ve had in my four years,” Neleski said. “I want to let them play the game too.”

Greely returned to its scoring ways in the fourth, as Butler came up big again.

Cimino led off with a deep fly ball to left for the first out. Lyden followed with a single down the rightfield line, but was erased when Wyman grounded out to second unassisted. Wyman then stole second and the inning appeared to end when MacDonald chased strike three in the dirt, but Brown didn’t immediately throw to first and MacDonald reached and when the throw got away, he moved to second, with Wyman taking third. Butler then ripped a single to left, scoring Wyman to make it 4-0 and putting runners at the corners. Butler stole second, but the runners were stranded when Nolin bounced out to short.

Neleski had another quick inning in the bottom of the fourth, getting Romano to pop out to second on the first pitch and after Burgmaier singled through the hole between shortstop and third, Hickey lined out to short and Butler threw back to first to double up Burgmaier to retire the side.

Neleski started the top of the fifth by singling to center. Piesik replaced him as a runner and moved to second on a Lainey wild pitch. After Sullivan walked, Whiting grounded into a third-to-second force out, putting runners at the corners. With Cimino at the plate, Whiting took off for second and stole it as Brown couldn’t handle the pitch and as a result, Piesik came home with the fifth run. Cimino then flew out deep to center and that was it for Lainey’s outing. He was replaced by sophomore Jacob Gautreau, who fanned Lyden to end the frame.

Neleski remained dialed in in the bottom of the fifth, getting McGrath to ground back to the mound, fanning Brewer and getting Jordan to line out to third.

The Rangers produced another two-run in the top of the sixth.

After pinch-hitter Brooks Williams looked at strike three, MacDonald drew a walk and after Butler flew out to right, MacDonald stole second. Nolin then singled just under the glove of Hickey into centerfield and MacDonald came home to make it 6-0. Nolin moved up on a balk, but was stranded when Neleski popped out foul to third.

Yarmouth finally broke through in the bottom half, with a little help.

Neleski started the frame by fanning Dickinson, then he caught junior pinch-hitter Will Giese looking at strike three. Lainey singled to center and went to second on an error by Wyman. Pinch-runner Blake Venden then came home when Romano singled to center and Wyman again couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly. Burgmaier then flew out to right to keep the score 6-1.

The Rangers added one final two-out run in the top of the seventh against Dickinson, who took over on the mound.

Senior catcher Aiden Smith started the frame by striking out swinging and pinch-hitter Max Cloutier popped out to second, but Dickinson hit Cimino with a pitch and pinch-runner Ricky Walker took second on a wild pitch before Kolben singled to center to drive him home. Pinch-runner Harry McFarland stole second, but was stranded when Wyman popped back to the mound, keeping the score 7-1.

Neleski started the bottom of the seventh by catching both Hickey and pinch-hitter Aaron Belesca staring at strike three. Brewer singled to left and pinch-hitter Teddy Norton kept hope alive when he reached on a throwing error by Butler, but Neleski brought the curtain down in a tidy two hours by catching Dickinson looking at strike three.

“We played in some (bad) weather the first couple games, but it was nice today and that helped the ball travel a little more,” Butler said.

“There were a lot of hard-hit balls today and that was encouraging to see,” Soule said. “Balls that were not your routine singles, balls that were smoked really well, even some our outs. Guys were disciplined. They didn’t chase. When the ball was in the zone, they let it rip.”

Butler and Nolin each had two hits, to pace an eight-hit attack.

Lyden, MacDonald, Neleski, Nolin, Piesik, Walker and Wyman all scored runs.

Butler and Whiting had two RBI apiece, while Kolben and Nolin also drove in a run.

Butler, MacDonald, McFarland and Wyman all stole bases.

The Rangers stranded eight base runners.

Neleski improved to 1-0, giving up one unearned run on five hits in his seven innings. He didn’t walk a single batter and fanned nine.

“It felt good to be back,” said Neleski, who was unavailable the first two games. “It was special for me because it was the first game my Dad wasn’t able to see in my whole life. He passed away in the fall. I just wanted to do the best I could for him. I got stronger in the middle innings. At first, I didn’t have much going right, but later in the game, my curveball was good.”

“It’s nice having Will back,” said Butler. “We works so fast. He was a beast out there today. The tempo worked to his pace.”

“Will was a little up in the zone,” Soule added. “He was fired up for his first start on the mound this year. You could see it in his body language. Next bullpen (session), we’ll work on that.”

For Yarmouth, Romano had two hits and Venden scored the run. The Clippers left five runners on.

Lainey fell to 0-1 after giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out three and threw a wild pitch.

Gautreau gave up one earned run on one hit in 1.1 inning. He walked one, struck out two and balked once.

Dickinson gave up an earned run on a hit in an inning of work. He fanned one, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

“(Greely) did a great job,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted. “They were a better team than us today. They were better prepared. We call them ‘extra 90s,’ walks, errors, mistakes, not throwing to the right base, and we made nine extra 90s and they made one going into the seventh inning. We had six sophomores out there today who aren’t used to seeing a curveball like (Neleski’s). They better learn quick.”

Fits and starts

Yarmouth is scheduled to host Poland Friday, but Mother Nature will likely have other ideas. The Clippers are at Poland Wednesday of next week.

“Weather is no excuse,” Halsted said. “We’ve got to coach them up better and get creative in the gym. We’ll work it out. We have varsity starting athletes from football, soccer, basketball and hockey all over the field. We should compete better than we did today and we will.”

Greely is supposed to play its home opener Friday versus Gray-New Gloucester, but that game will likely be postponed. The Rangers travel to York Monday and visit Freeport Wednesday of next week.

“We have good team chemistry,” said Butler. “That goes a long way. We just have to keep working. We have a lot of potential.”

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

Greely senior ace Will Neleski delivers a pitch. Neleski went the distance to earn his first win.

Yarmouth senior second baseman Toby Burgmaier forces Greely senior Connor Sullivan and throws on to first.

Recent Greely-Yarmouth meetings

2018
@ Greely 13 Yarmouth 2 (5)
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 2

2017
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 2 
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 1

2016
Greely 4 Yarmouth 4 (9-inning tie)
Class B South quarterfinal
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0 

2015
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 2
Western B quarterfinal
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 3 (9) 

2014
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
Western B quarterfinal
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0 

2013
Greely 10 @ Yarmouth 7 (8)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

2012
Greely 3 Yarmouth 1 (@ OOB)
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 3

2011
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
@ Yarmouth 6 Greely 5
Western B Final
Greely 7 Yarmouth 5

2010
Yarmouth 5 @ Greely 4
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 2

2009
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 7
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5

2008
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 3
Western B quarterfinals
Yarmouth 9 @ Greely 2

2007
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 4
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

2006
@ Greely 9 Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 2 (6)

2005
@ Greely 8 Yarmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1

2004
Greely 9 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 8 Yarmouth 0

2003
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5
Greely 4 @ Yarmouth 3

2002
@ Greely 11 Yarmouth 11 (tie)
Western B preliminary round
Yarmouth 8 @ Greely 5 (8)

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