Playoffs begin on the diamond

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Fryeburg softball game story, with photos and a box score, please visit theforecaster.net)

Weather and field conditions permitting, the baseball and softball postseasons got underway Tuesday.

All four local varsity baseball and two Forecaster Country softball teams made the cut and have high hopes.

Baseball

The Greely baseball team did what everyone expected it to do this spring, dominate and earn the top seed.

The Rangers finished first in the Western Class B Heal Points standings with a 15-1 mark after closing with an 11-2 home win over Fryeburg last Wednesday. In that one, Mike Leeman, Connor Russell and Sam Porter combined to throw a three-hitter, while recording 15 of 21 outs via the strikeout. Leeman capped an eight-run first inning with a three-run home run. Leeman and Bailey Train had multiple hits.

“We did what we set out to do during the regular season, secure a first-round bye and homefield advantage for the quarterfinal and semifinal games,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “Even though we were 15-1, we had plenty of close games and we learned that no matter who we play, we still have to play well to win.”

The Rangers will host either No. 8 Freeport (10-6) or No. 9 Cape Elizabeth (8-8) in Thursday’s quarterfinal round.

Greely beat both prospective playoff foes at home in the regular season, blanking the Capers, 8-0, April 30 and holding off the Falcons, 3-1, May 7.

The Rangers and Cape Elizabeth have met nine previous times in June, with Greely holding a 5-4 edge. The Capers took the most recent encounter, 4-3, in eight innings, in the 2010 semifinals.

The Rangers and Freeport have only met once prior in the postseason, a 1-0 Greely triumph in the 2004 preliminary round.

“We have a lot of big game experience on this team and I think our players can draw on that throughout the playoffs to emotionally deal with the single elimination format,” Soule said.

The Falcons are coming off their best season since 2003, going 10-6 to earn the No. 8 spot.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Freeport coach Hank Ogilby. “When you have the attitude where you think you can win, it just changes the whole dynamic. As opposed to showing up and trying not to get 10-run ruled, or hoping you might win, these guys show up really feeling they can win. It’s a different feeling and it’s fun.”

The Falcons split with Cape Elizabeth in the regular season, winning 7-3 on the road and falling 4-2 at home. The teams have no playoff history.

Falmouth stumbled a bit down the stretch, but still went 13-3 to post its best record in Class B and best in any class since 1999. The Yachtsmen closed last Tuesday with a 3-1 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester. Drew Proctor had four of the team’s six hits.

“We’re playing great baseball,” said Falmouth coach Kevin Winship. “They’re a great group of kids. They’ve worked hard since we started back in March. Our pitching has been excellent. They’ve really kept us in ballgames. Defensively, everyone has stepped up. We’ve gotten big hits. At the start of the year, it was the top of the lineup. Then, the bottom of the lineup and now, it’s everybody.”

The Yachtsmen will host either No. 7 Lincoln Academy (10-5-1) or 10th-ranked Spruce Mountain (11-5) in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Falmouth didn’t play either team this year. The Yachtsmen have no history with the Phoenix, but have met Lincoln Academy before in June, most recently in the 2010 quarterfinals (a 10-7 loss).

“We had a great regular season record, but that record doesn’t mean anything now,” said Winship. “Now, it comes down to execution, making plays, pitching and hitting the ball. I have no clue about (Lincoln or Spruce Mountain) other than their record and Heal Points. We’ll go out and play baseball and do the little things we’ve done all year. The team chemistry is there. It’s a great group who wants to get better. We were six outs away from the regional final last year. A lot of last year’s kids are back and remember that. They want to get to the final.”

After losing an abundance of talent to graduation, not much was expected of Yarmouth this spring, but the Clippers managed to finish fourth with a 10-6 mark after holding off visiting York, 2-1, in their regular season finale last Wednesday. Max Grimm drove in the winner, his 29th RBI of the year, a walkoff single in the seventh that drove in pinch-runner Kevin Haley. Bryce Snyder also had an RBI, while Chester Jacobs threw a six-hitter to earn his fourth victory.

Yarmouth posted double digit victories for the third year in a row, something the Clippers hadn’t managed since a six-year streak between 1991 and 1996.

“We’re pretty happy with how things all shook out,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted. “With nine new starters this year, we expected some tough times, but the kids weathered the storms. An 0-2 start and some tough losses were happily overshadowed by a 10-win season and wins over the top two teams in our league (Greely and Falmouth).

“I’ve been really happy with the play of some of our unsung heroes. (Catcher) Calvin Cooper finishes the year with only one passed ball and he’s thrown out 7-of-24 potential base stealers. Chester Jacobs and Nick Lainey finished with seven combined wins and Caleb Uhl finished with a .453 (on-base percentage) and stole 18 bases from the leadoff spot.”

The Clippers will host No. 5 Maranacook (10-6) or 12th-ranked Leavitt (9-7) in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Yarmouth didn’t face either team this year, but has playoff history with both. The last time the Clippers faced the Black Bears in June, they beat them, 3-2, in eight innings, in the 2003 preliminary round. Yarmouth lost to Leavitt, 13-12, in nine innings, in the 1998 Western C quarterfinals.

“Playoff-wise, we’ll rely on the guys who got us there,” said Halsted. “Bryce Snyder, Eamon Costello and Tom Sullivan have 56 combined RBI and each have been strong defensively. We have a tough matchup with either Leavitt or Maranacook because we don’t know much about either team. I don’t know when we’ll play, based on the weather, but I certainly hope we rise to meet the challenge.”

Playoff action continues Saturday with the semifinals, on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Western B Final is Wednesday (7 p.m.) of next week at St. Joseph’s College. The Class B state final is Saturday, June 16. Game time is 11 a.m., at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

Softball

The local softball parade has been led by Greely, which responded well to first-year coach and former Rangers legend Sarah Jamo (who, as Sarah Bennis, pitched Greely to its lone championship back in 2002). The Rangers ripped the cover off the ball nearly the whole spring and won 13 straight games before falling in the final, 3-1, to visiting Fryeburg last Wednesday. Edith Aromando drove in the run and Dani Cimino only allowed six hits, but Greely wound up 14-2.

“We’ve been hitting really well, but we kind of ran into some pitching today,” said Jamo. “Good thing it happened before playoffs. Now what we know what we can work on going forward. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. That’s what we talked about. The pressure was off. We were playing a great team. Go out and have fun. It didn’t make or break our season. I’m really happy with the season we put together, We hit very well throughout the season and Dani pitched really well throughout the season too. Everything came together and we put a lot of wins together.”

The Rangers will host either No. 7 Cape Elizabeth (winners of seven straight and 13-3) or No. 10 Oak Hill (9-7). Greely held off the visiting Capers, 8-5, back on April 30. The Rangers don’t play the Raiders in the regular season.

Greely and Cape Elizabeth met in the 2006 and 2007 regional finals and the Capers won both games. The Rangers last played Oak Hill in their championship season of 2002, a 1-0 win in the semifinals.

“We’ll get back on the right track,” Jamo said. “We hope we have four more wins in us.”

Falmouth grabbed the 12th and final spot in Western B after finishing 8-8. The Yachtsmen closed with an 8-1 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester last Wednesday and had to go to the 12-4 Patriots for a rematch in Tuesday’s preliminary round. Falmouth lost, 4-0, at Gray-New Gloucester back on May 2. The teams last met in the playoffs 10 years ago, a 4-1 Patriots’ triumph in the preliminary round.

Yarmouth finished with a 16-3 five inning home win over York. The Clippers finished 5-11 and 14th, but only 12 teams qualified.

Freeport wound up 6-10 and 15th.

Playoff action continues Saturday with the semifinals, on the fields of the higher remaining seeds. The Western B Final is Wednesday (3:30 p.m.) of next week at St. Joseph’s College. The Class B Final is Saturday, June 16. Game time is 3 p.m., at Brewer High School.

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

Sidebar Elements


Senior Sawyer Williams and the Freeport baseball team are coming off their best regular season in nearly a decade. The Falcons now look to turn heads in the playoffs.

Greely sophomore Elyse Dinan lines a hit during last week’s regular season-ending 3-1 home loss to Fryeburg. The Rangers are the No. 2 seed for the Western Class B playoffs.

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