Falmouth starter Reece Armitage delivers a pitch during Saturday’s Class A state final against Bangor.
Falmouth senior captain Hogan Tracy holds the runner-up trophy following the Yachtsmen’s 5-0 loss to Bangor in Saturday’s Class A state final.
(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-South Portland game story, with a box score and additional photos, see theforecaster.net)
For 19 games, Falmouth’s baseball team was perfect.
Unfortunately, for the Yachtsmen, they had to play a 20th.
Against two-time defending champion Bangor, who ended Falmouth’s title dreams in the Class A state final Saturday afternoon on the campus of St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
Falmouth went 16-0 during its regular season Western Maine Conference schedule, then moved up for the playoffs, where the Yachtsmen earned the top seed for the Class A South playoffs.
Falmouth then embarked on one of the great pitching performance-inspired playoff runs in recent memory, as Cam Guarino one-hit Deering in a 4-0 victory in the quarterfinals, Reece Armitage threw a one-hit gem against Portland in a 5-0 win in the semifinals and Guarino fired another one-hitter in last Tuesday’s Class A South Final against South Portland.
There, for the third playoff game in a row, the Yachtsmen scored a first inning run, as Connor Aube led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Tyler Gee and came home on a ground out from Robbie Armitage.
Normally one run would be enough for Falmouth, but the Yachtsmen committed three errors in the top of the third inning and the Red Riots scored twice to take a 2-1 lead.
Falmouth roared right back, however, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the third to seize control, as Aube scored on an error and Chris Camelio hit a go-ahead RBI single.
“I saw the ball really well tonight,” Camelio said. “I sat back and tried to hit it hard and found a gap.
Jesse Melchiskey then drove in another run.
Guarino retired the final 14 batters he faced and Falmouth went on to a 4-2 victory.
“I wasn’t worried at all (when we fell behind),” Connor Aube said. “We have bats in the lineup 1 through 9, who know what they’re doing. Somebody usually steps up.”
“We responded by getting more confident,” Guarino said. “Everyone picked each other up on the bench. We knew we could do it.”
“We faced a little adversity, but this team can battle,” added Yachtsmen coach Kevin Winship. “There are a lot of doubters out there, but there are 20 non-doubters on this team. We knew coming in we’re a top program. Whether we were Class A or B, we went out and played our schedule and we’ve ripped off 19 straight. That’s awesome.”
Falmouth returned to St. Joe’s Saturday to meet Bangor, who beat Windham to win the 2014 championship and South Portland in last year’s state game.
There, the Yachtsmen, who overwhelmed the opposition with pitching all year, had the tables turned on them, as University of Maine-bound ace Trevor DeLaite held them to three hits.
Falmouth was frustrated early by DeLaite and with Melchiskey at the plate in the bottom of the second inning, by the umpires.
“(DeLaite) liked to work fast and we tried to control the tempo a little,” said Winship. “Jesse called timeout with his hand up, but the umpire didn’t allow it and the pitch was a strike. I felt he had allowed us to call timeout before, but it changed all of a sudden and I disagreed.”
The Rams took a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
Falmouth’s lone golden scoring chance came in the bottom of the fourth, as the Yachtsmen loaded the bases with two outs on singles by Reece Armitage and Colin Coyne and a walk to Camelio, but DeLaite regrouped quickly, rallying from a 3-1 count for an inning-ending strikeout of Jesse Melchiskey.
Bangor added a run in the fifth and scored twice more in the sixth to break it open.
DeLaite, who fanned 10, closed the door from there and the Rams prevailed, 5-0, ending Falmouth’s season at 19-1.
“Bangor’s a good, solid team,” said Winship. “They did what we’ve done all year, score two early runs, then sit back. The DeLaite kid is the real deal. He was on. He pitched well. He attacked our hitters. When he needed it, he threw his curve for a strike. A couple times 3-0 in the count. That kept us off balance. We had some opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage. He’s going to Maine for a reason.”
Winship defended his decision to give the ball to Armitage in the state game.
“Cam threw 92 pitches Tuesday and Reece was rested,” Winship said. “I thought Reece pitched great. We feel like we have two number ones. I liked the idea of having Cam come out of the bullpen. If we had gotten a couple hits it would have been a different game.”
Falmouth had a season to remember, even if its title dreams were dashed.
“Going undefeated in the Western Maine Conference was awesome,” Winship said. “I wouldn’t have thought that at the beginning of the year. We didn’t have an easy playoff road. We had to beat Deering with (James) Sinclair, Portland with (Charles) Barnard and South Portland with (Griffin) Kelley. We went 19-1 and I’m really proud of the kids. We just didn’t win our last game. We were disappointed, but we played great all season. We had a lot of talented kids and a lot of things went our way.”
Falmouth will be hit by graduation, as Aube, Gee, Melchiskey and Hogan Tracy depart.
“The seniors were fantastic and meant a lot to the program,” Winship said. “Hogan had a good year. Jesse came back from a knee injury and played well. Tyler stepped up for us in the field and at the plate. Connor hit over .500 with eight home runs, over 30 hits and he scored 32 runs. He was just tremendous. He’s a great all-around athlete. He was a huge part of our success. He was in our starting lineup since game two of his freshman year. He’ll be sadly missed, but I look forward to following his career.”
Falmouth has made a habit of taking bigger strides each season, which suggests the 2017 Yachtsmen could win the championship.
“We return Reece and Cam and it all starts with those two,” Winship said. “Garrett Aube had an unbelievable season behind the plate. He turned into a terrific catcher and really came along. We should be pretty good next year.”
Bangor Daily News staff writer Ernie Clark contributed to this story.