Cape Elizabeth sophomore shortstop Maddie Culkin shares a moment with junior pitcher Jessie Robicheaw during the Capers’ home tilt versus Yarmouth Saturday afternoon. Culkin hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Capers a 7-6 victory.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
CAPE ELIZABETH—History really does repeat itself and while the Yarmouth Clippers aren’t thrilled with that assertion, the Cape Elizabeth Capers couldn’t be happier.
Saturday afternoon at Capano Field, the playoff contenders went back and forth for seven innings and as once was the case in an unforgettable playoff game in 2014, the game would be decided by one swing, by the team batting last.
Cape Elizabeth grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, on RBI singles from junior pitcher Jessie Robicheaw and senior first baseman Grace Carignan, but the Capers probably should have had more, as they left two runners on.
Robicheaw held Yarmouth at bay until the fourth, when with two outs, freshman first baseman Tasha Powers delivered a two-run single to tie it.
Cape Elizabeth retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth against Clippers sophomore starter Ceanne Lyon, as Carignan and sophomore shortstop Maddie Culkin had two-out RBI hits.
The Clippers produced their own two-out magic in the top of the sixth, as senior shortstop Andrea St. Pierre tied the game with a two-run double and scored the go-ahead run on a double from junior centerfielder Sophie McGrath. Junior catcher Cate Ralph then singled in McGrath to seemingly put Yarmouth in a good position, but the Capers responded again in their half of the frame.
After a pair of walks and a wild pitch, with two down, junior third baseman Anna Torre came up huge with a two-run single and the game went to the fateful seventh inning deadlocked, 6-6.
After Robicheaw stranded a runner in the top half, Culkin came up with one out in the bottom half and crushed a ball over McGrath’s head in center and it sailed over the fence for a home run which gave Cape Elizabeth a dramatic 7-6 victory.
The Capers improved to 7-6, snapped a four-game skid against the Clippers and dropped Yarmouth to 11-4 in the process.
“It’s a huge win over a quality tournament team,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Joe Henrikson. “It’s big for the kids. They had a good comeback, then we did. We’re either on or we’re not, it’s unbelievable.”
After playing twice annually for each of the past seven seasons, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth are only scheduled to square off once this spring.
Both teams have had their moments of excellence this season, but both have suffered some tough defeats as well.
After opening with a 7-0 win at Greely, the Capers lost at Kennebunk (8-7, in eight-innings). After a 10-3 home victory over Poland, Cape Elizabeth lost at home to Fryeburg Academy (3-1), Wells (7-0) and Kennebunk (13-0, in five-innings) before bouncing back to down visiting Lake Region (9-6), host Freeport (12-0, in six-innings) and visiting York (3-2). The Capers lost at Gray-New Gloucester (5-4), then gave Henrikson his 250th victory with a 4-3 home win over Greely Monday before falling, 8-1, at Lake Region Wednesday.
Yarmouth opened by edging visiting York, 4-3. After handling visiting Greely, 7-1, the Clippers won at Poland, 5-3. A gutwrenching 5-4, nine-inning loss at Greely was followed by a 5-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy, 4-3 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester, a 10-3 home win over Lake Region, road victories over Freeport (18-2, in five-innings) and Poland (9-1), a home win over Traip Academy (9-0) and a 28-1 (five-inning) romp at Old Orchard Beach. Yarmouth then dropped two in a row on the road, 15-7 to Fryeburg Academy and 2-0 at Wells before downing host Kennebunk, 7-4, Wednesday.
Entering play Saturday, Cape Elizabeth had won 16 of 24 meetings dating back to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below), including the 2014 Western B semifinals where the Capers rallied from an 8-3 seventh inning hole on Tess Haller’s walkoff home run. but the past four encounters had gone to the Clippers, including a pair a year ago (5-3 at Cape Elizabeth and 3-1 at home).
This time around, the Capers found a way to outlast the visitors and give Henrikson a 251st victory he won’t soon forget.
Robicheaw started the game by striking out Yarmouth sophomore leftfielder Lydia Guay, but Andrea St. Pierre followed with a deep fly ball to right field that got past the fence for a ground rule double. McGrath then walked, but Ralph lined back to the mound and Robicheaw escaped the jam by striking out Sydney St. Pierre.
Cape Elizabeth then put on its hitting shoes in the bottom of the first and grabbed the lead.
O’Sullivan led off with a shot over the head of Guay in left for a double. Torre then singled to center to put runners at the corners. Robicheaw delivered the first run with a single to center to score O’Sullivan and after Holmes replaced Robicheaw as a courtesy runner, Carignan singled to right to score Torre for a 2-0 lead. When Holmes took third and Carignan moved up to second on the throw home, it appeared the Capers were primed to break the game open, but Lyon settled down.
Culkin hit a ground ball back to Lyon, who prepared to throw to first, but when Holmes broke for the plate, she threw home and Ralph applied the tag for the first out. Junior rightfielder Katie Bozek then popped out to the mound and Culkin was caught off first for a double play to end the frame.
Robicheaw preserved the lead in the second, getting sophomore designated player Cayte Tillotson to ground to second, Lyon to bounce out to short and Powers to hit a deep fly ball to right.
In the bottom half, freshman catcher Elena Keller led off with a single to center, but freshman designated player Corina Page grounded into a force out, sophomore second baseman Katie LeDoux took strike three and O’Sullivan flew out to left to end the inning.
Junior third baseman Hannah Merrill gave Yarmouth some life starting the third by doubling down the leftfield line, but Guay looked at strike three, Andrea St. Pierre popped out to second (with Merrill going to third on the play) and McGrath stared at strike three to keep the score 2-0.
Lyon got Torre to ground out to third to start the bottom of the inning, but Robicheaw reached on a single off Powers’ glove. Carignan then popped out to short and Culkin lined back to the mound to end it.
The Clippers drew even in the fourth, thanks to a big two-out hit.
Ralph bounced out to second leading off, but Sydney St. Pierre walked and Tillotson singled to left. Lyon then sacrificed the runners up and that paid off big-time, as Powers ripped a single to left-center on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game. Merrill reached on an error by Torre to extend the inning, but Guay bounced out to second to keep the game tied, 2-2.
Lyon had her best inning in the bottom half, getting Bozek to fly to right, Keller to bounce out to short and Page to pop to the catcher.
Andrea St. Pierre started the top of the fifth by flying out to center. McGrath was hit by a pitch and after Ralph bounced back to the mound, with McGrath going to second, Sydney St. Pierre walked. Tillotson then hit a towering fly ball to left and freshman Maddy Gillespie made the catch to keep the game deadlocked.
The Capers went back on top in the bottom half.
After LeDoux struck out swinging, O’Sullivan drew a walk. Torre then hit a shot that Andrea St. Pierre nicely stabbed and threw to Sydney St. Pierre for a force out. Robicheaw kept the inning alive with a single to center and after Holmes came on to run, Carignan drove the first pitch she saw into right-center to score O’Sullivan for a 3-2 lead. Culkin followed with a single to center to score Holmes and Cape Elizabeth had a 4-2 advantage. Bozek then bounced out to second for the third out.
Down to its final six outs, Yarmouth rose up and put up a four-spot in the sixth.
Lyon started the rally with a single to right, but Powers popped out foul to Carignan at first and Merrill struck out swinging. Guay walked on a 3-2 pitch and Andrea St. Pierre made Robicheaw pay with a double down the leftfield line to score both runners, tying the score.
The Clippers weren’t done.
McGrath delivered the go-ahead run with a double to left-center and McGrath came home when Ralph singled to center to make it 6-4. Sydney St. Pierre bounced out to first unassisted, but Yarmouth had seemingly wrested control of the contest.
“That was a great inning,” Clippers coach Amy Ashley said. “It’s nice to see that we were able to do that with two outs. The heart of our order, the juniors and seniors, scored those runs.”
The Capers answered in their half of the sixth.
Lyon got Keller to fly to left, but Holmes hit for Page and drew a walk. McGrath robbed LeDoux with a nice running catch in centerfield for the second out, but on a 3-2 pitch, O’Sullivan drew a walk and a wild pitch put the runners in scoring position for Torre, who laced a single to right-center to bring in both runners to even the game again, 6-6.
“That all started with a substitution in the eight hole,” Henrikson said. “(Leah) got a walk and that inning wouldn’t have happened without that walk, then we had the huge hit by Anna.”
“It’s frustrating that we had such a great inning, then we couldn’t shut them down,” Ashley said. “That’s the inexperience we have on the mound and in the field. That’s something that just can’t happen. We had all the momentum.”
Robicheaw popped up to short and that sent the game to the seventh inning deadlocked.
Tillotson led off with an infield single on a slow roller to Torre and Torre threw the ball away to put the go-ahead run at second.
Yarmouth couldn’t take advantage, however, as Lyon tried to bunt with two strikes and fouled it off for strike three, Powers bounced out to third and with Tillotson at third, Merrill hit a ground ball back to the mound.
Two batters into the bottom of the seventh, the game was over.
Lyon got Carignan to pop out to third leading off, but she wouldn’t be as fortunate with Culkin.
Culkin hammered a fastball over Lyon’s head and the ball carried over McGrath’s head as well before clearing the centerfield wall to bring a sudden end to the festivities at 3:52 p.m.
Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 6.
“It feels great,” Culkin said. “I was kind of in a slump, then that put me over the top. I’m so happy. It was so surreal. I didn’t think it really happened, then I broke into tears.
“I’ve always loved lower pitches. I’ve hit home runs before when you know the moment the ball hits off your bat and as soon as I hit it, I knew. It was awesome to know that everyone was behind me.”
“There was no doubt about that,” Henrikson said. “I pointed to the outfield and two pitches later, she hit it.”
Robicheaw improved to 7-6 after giving up six runs on nine hits. She walked four, hit a batter and fanned five.
Robicheaw also paced the offense with three hits. Carignan, Culkin and Torre had two apiece.
Holmes, O’Sullivan and Torre all had two runs, while Culkin scored the most important one.
Carignan, Culkin and Torre had two RBI apiece and Robicheaw also drove in a run.
The Capers had three extra base hits, as O’Sullivan and Torre doubled and Culkin homered.
Cape Elizabeth stranded six base runners.
Yarmouth got multiple hits from Andrea St. Pierre and Tillotson.
Guay, Lyon, McGrath, Andrea St. Pierre, Sydney St. Pierre and Tillotson all scored runs.
Powers and Andrea St. Pierre had two RBI apiece and McGrath and Ralph each produced one.
McGrath, Merrill and Andrea St. Pierre all doubled.
The Clippers left nine runners on.
Lyon fell to 10-3 after giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings. She walked three, struck out two and threw a wild pitch.
“We made mental mistakes we shouldn’t have made and Cape hit the ball excellent,” Ashley said. “They were finding gaps. Kudos to them, but the walkoff home runs are a little much at this point.”
Yarmouth (fourth in Class B South Heal Points standings at press time) hosts Kennebunk in its finale Wednesday.
“There are a lot of (Heal Points) still out there,” Ashley said. “We’ll hope to play well and wherever we end up, we’ll end up. It’s wide open. We’ve been in every game. We’ll focus on pitching and scoring our runners. Maybe this will help us learn situationally. Hopefully this helps us grow. We hope to grow with every loss.”
Cape Elizabeth (now ninth and rising in Class B South) returns to action Monday at Old Orchard Beach in a makeup game. After visiting St. Dom’s Wednesday, the Capers close at Fryeburg Academy the following day.
“We’re a really young team and I think people underestimate us, but teams shouldn’t take us lightly,” Culkin said. “This will help us. It boosts our confidence. We’re excited. I think if we come to win and put our heads into it, we can do anything.”
“We can play with everybody,” Henrikson said. “We’re taking it one game at a time.”
Cape Elizabeth junior pitcher Jessie Robicheaw prepares to deliver a pitch.
Yarmouth sophomore Ceanne Lyon fires a pitch to the plate.
Cape Elizabeth junior rightfielder Katie Bozek makes contact.
Yarmouth sophomore rightfielder Lydia Guay dives in vain for a ball.
Yarmouth senior second baseman Sydney St. Pierre forces Cape Elizabeth senior centerfielder Kelly O’Sullivan and looks to turn a double play.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Leah Holmes is tagged out at the plate by Yarmouth junior catcher Cate Ralph.
Cape Elizabeth freshman catcher Elena Keller lines a single.
Yarmouth senior Sydney St. Pierre is greeted by her teammates after scoring a run in the fourth inning.
Cape Elizabeth junior Anna Torre races past coach Joe Henrikson en route to scoring a run in the fifth inning.
Yarmouth 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 1
Yarmouth 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Yarmouth 11 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Yarmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth 13 @ Yarmouth 4
Western B semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 9 Yarmouth 8
Cape Elizabeth 7 @ Yarmouth 6
Yarmouth 3 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 11 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
@ Yarmouth 3 Cape Elizabeth 2
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Yarmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Yarmouth 1
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 1 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 3 Yarmouth 2
Cape Elizabeth 12 @ Yarmouth 0
Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Yarmouth 0