Title dreams still alive as spring sports season enters final week-Northern edition

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Falmouth’s Will Bopp tags out a South Portland baserunner during the Yachtsmen’s 4-2 upset victory last Thursday in the Class A South quarterfinals. Falmouth’s run and two-year regional title reign ended with a 5-4 loss to Cheverus Saturday in the semifinals.

Greely ace Kelsey Currier throws a strike during the Rangers’ 1-0 upset win at Gray-New Gloucester in Saturday’s Class B South semifinals. Greely advanced to face Morse in the regional final Wednesday.

Greely’s girls’ lacrosse team exults at the final horn of Saturday’s 6-5 win over Waynflete in a Class B state quarterfinals. The Rangers battle Cape Elizabeth in the state semifinals Wednesday.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-South Portland, Greely-Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth baseball and Greely-Waynflete girls’ lacrosse game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

Tennis has crowned its champions (see story), the outdoor track season culminated Saturday with the New England meet and baseball, softball and lacrosse will bring the curtain down on the spring sports campaign with their state games Saturday.

The end is in sight, but there is still plenty of drama to come.

Here’s a glimpse:

Baseball

Greely’s baseball team is up to its old tricks, advancing to the Class B South Final for the first time since 2015. The Rangers, who overcame a 3-3 start this spring to earn the No. 3 seed for the tournament, survived No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 2-1, in the quarterfinals last Thursday. Nick Butler singled in Jake MacDonald in the bottom of the seventh to give the Rangers a walkoff win. Will Neleski went the distance and didn’t surrender an earned run. Brady Nolin had an RBI single as well.

Saturday, Greely went to No. 2 Cape Elizabeth for the semifinals and the longtime rivals’ 13th all-time postseason meeting. After three scoreless innings, the Rangers jumped to a 3-0 lead on an RBI single from Neleski, an error and an RBI double from Eben Kiesow. After starting pitcher Connor Sullivan drove in a fourth run with a sixth inning sacrifice fly, the Capers got two runs back in the bottom and loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Jacob Whiting got dangerous slugger Brendan Tinsman to fly out to deep right.

“I was nervous, but I knew I had to just try and work in on him,” Whiting said. “I got lucky and got out of the jam. That was a big sigh of relief.”

In the seventh, Greely put it away, as Neleski had an RBI single, Kiesow hit an RBI double, Whiting scored a run with a sacrifice fly and Will Lyden drove in another run and the Rangers went on to an 8-2 victory. Sullivan earned the win and Whiting picked up the save.

“It’s a very good feeling,” Kiesow said. “It’s good to see our team coming along and doing this. We’re hyper-focused and guys are getting things done. The team is confident.”

“It’s been a really good rivalry over the years,” said longtime Greely coach Derek Soule. “I love the intensity and the passion that both teams play with. Today, we were fortunate that our bats were hot. One through nine, our lineup was on. They weren’t going to be denied. They played inspiring baseball from start to finish.” 

The Rangers (12-6) face No. 1 Wells (16-2) in the regional final Wednesday evening at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Greely split two meetings with the Warriors, prevailing, 7-3, at home April 24, then being blanked, 5-0, at Wells May 21. The Rangers won the only prior playoff meeting, 6-2, in the 2000 Western B semifinals.

If Greely gets to the state final, it will meet either Ellsworth (17-1) or Brewer (13-5) Saturday at 11 a.m., in Bangor. The Rangers have no history with either team.

Falmouth, the two-time defending Class A South champion wasn’t as fortunate, although the Yachtsmen did produce a memorable playoff run. As the No. 9 seed in the region, Falmouth downed No. 8 Marshwood, 7-5, in last Wednesday’s preliminary round, as the Yachtsmen scored five times in the top of the first inning and Garrett Tracy earned the victory and hit a two-run double.

“I knew I had to be pretty tight on the plate,” Tracy said. “That helped me to find it early. And then we scored five runs right away.”

Thursday, Falmouth pulled off the signature upset of the tournament, knocking off top-ranked South Portland, 4-2, in the quarterfinals. The Yachtsmen took advantage of three Red Riots’ errors and after starter Griffin Aube suffered a broken hand, his twin brother, Garret Aube, replaced him and closed out the victory.

“We wanted to go out, have fun and see what happened,” Garret Aube said.

“The past two years, the pressure was on us, but today, the pressure was on them as the 1 seed,” said Yachtsmen coach Kevin Winship.

Saturday, midnight struck for Cinderella, despite a valiant effort. Facing No. 4 Cheverus, Falmouth got an inspirational start from Griffin Aube, who wore a cast on his non-pitching hand and caught throws back from the catcher with his bare hand. The Yachtsmen trailed, 3-1, entering the seventh, but scored three times, as Garret Aube doubled in a run, Connor Coffin brought in another with a squeeze bunt and the go-ahead run scored on a balk. Falmouth couldn’t close it out, however, as Griffin Aube reached the pitch limit and was replaced and with the bases loaded and two outs, the Stags got a walkoff, two-run single to prevail, 5-4, and end the Yachtsmen’s season at 10-9.

“We lost to a good team,” Winship said. “I have to tip my hat to them. They did the job they needed to do to win.”

Back in Class B South, Yarmouth, the defending state champion, ranked seventh, handled No. 10 Spruce Mountain, 10-0, in five-innings, in last Tuesday’s preliminary round. Luke Waeldner threw a one-hitter and struck out nine batters. Dom Morrill had three hits and Aidan Hickey added two hits and two RBI.

That sent the Clippers to No. 2 Cape Elizabeth for Thursday’s quarterfinal round. Yarmouth trailed, 5-0, heading to the seventh, but improbably rallied to tie the game. The comeback was sparked by a three-run triple from Hickey and a squeeze bunt from Jason Lainey which made it 5-5. The Capers ultimately pulled it out, 6-5, with a run in the bottom of the ninth, ending the valiant Clippers’ season at 10-8.

“This isn’t hyperbole,” Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted said. “The reason why I coach is because I want to make an impact on these kids in some way. Yarmouth baseball, by and large, makes a positive impact on kids. We put our heads down and came back.

“Beyond my children and my wife, that’s what I live for right here. Teaching and coaching. It’s the greatest blessing in the world. State championships are the greatest thing because you end on a great note, but to lose like that, that’s second-best.”

Freeport fell in the preliminary round.

The Falcons, ranked sixth, lost at home to No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 6-1, to finish 10-7. Freeport got a home run from Colby Wagner, but couldn’t dig out of an early 5-0 deficit.

“We talked pregame that if we could jump out early that we would be in good shape, but that didn’t work out the way we wanted,” Freeport coach Bill Ridge said.

Ridge coached four seniors, Wagner, Josh Burke, Caleb Salter and Jack Sawicki, for the final time.

“They’ve been tremendous,” Ridge said. “They produced on the field and were leaders in the dugout.”

Softball

Greely’s softball team was 5-7 at one point this spring, but hasn’t lost since, making a run to the Class B South Final. The Rangers, ranked sixth in Class B South, downed No. 11 Spruce Mountain, 10-4, in the preliminary round. Sawyer Dusch and Taylor LaFlamme both had two hits and Kelsey Currier earned the victory

“We put the ball in play,” Greely coach Rob Hale said. “Put the ball in play in softball and things happen. We played a pretty clean game for the most part, for us.”

In Thursday’s quarterfinal round, the Rangers won, 7-2, at No. 3 Fryeburg Academy, as they scored twice in the fifth and four times in the seventh. Anna Smith hit a two-run double to put Greely on top. Currier struck out nine and Currier, Dusch, Smith and Lindsay Eisenhart all had two hits. 

Saturday morning, Greely went to second-seeded Gray-New Gloucester and prevailed again, 1-0. The run scored in the third when Maddie Rawnsley’s pop fly landed in left-center and Dusch came home for the lead. Currier allowed just two hits in the game, while striking out five and not issuing a single walk.

“Just keeping them off balance, jamming them inside,and then bringing it outside and just getting them off the end of the bat,” Currier said, of her effort.

“I mean, yes it was (a nail-biter), but with Kelsey on the mound, nail-biters are a little not as nail-biting,” Hale said. “She performs well in jams. We didn’t play defense for five games, and we lost five in a row, and now we’re playing some defense and backing Kelsey up.”

Greely (12-7) met fourth-ranked Morse (14-4) in the Class B South Final Tuesday at St. Joe’s (see theforecaster.net for game story). The teams didn’t play this year and had no playoff history.

Yarmouth also made the playoffs, as the No. 8 seed in Class B South and lost, 4-3, to Cape Elizabeth in the preliminary round to finish 9-8.

Boys’ lacrosse

Four boys’ lacrosse teams were still chasing title glory at the start of the week.

In Class A North, top-ranked Falmouth earned a bye into Saturday’s semifinal round, then outlasted No. 4 Lewiston, 14-10. Nick Farnham scored three times, while Tom Fitzgerald, Lou Mainella and Reilly Tucker added two goals apiece. The Yachtsmen (12-1) host No. 2 Portland (12-1) in the regional final Wednesday evening. The teams didn’t play this year and have no playoff history.

If Falmouth advances to the Class A state final for the first time, it will battle either Thornton Academy (13-0) or longtime rival/nemesis Cape Elizabeth (10-3) Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. The Yachtsmen suffered their lone loss, 12-5, at the Golden Trojans May 29 and beat the visiting Capers, 14-8, May 4. Falmouth has never faced Thornton Academy in the playoffs and is 3-6 all-time against Cape Elizabeth, with a 6-5 setback in last year’s Class B South Final the most recent.

In Class B, top-ranked Greely had no trouble with No. 9 Gardiner, 19-5, in Saturday’s state quarterfinals. Schuyler Wetmore had eight goals and Andrew Lawrence finished with four. The Rangers (10-1) hosted No. 4 Messalonskee (8-5) in Wednesday’s semifinal round. If Greely advanced to the its first state final in the Maine Principals Association-sanctioned era, it will meet either No. 2 Brunswick (10-3) or No. 3 Yarmouth (9-4) Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

The Clippers snapped a three-game skid in their quarterfinal last Friday, downing visiting No. 6 York, 17-10. Anders Corey had five goals, Cooper May added four and Michael Guertler finished with three. 

“Our defense prides itself on being pretty hard-nosed, so credit to York for scoring 10 goals,” Yarmouth coach David Pearl said. “They showed a lot of heart.”

The Clippers advanced to Wednesday evening’s semifinal round to visit Brunswick, a team they didn’t face this year. Yarmouth is 2-1 all-time against the Dragons in the playoffs, but the squads hadn’t met in June since a 17-3 Clippers’ victory in the 2005 East Region semifinals.

If Yarmouth and Greely square off in Saturday’s state game, it would be the third meeting between the neighbors this spring. On April 12, in the opener, the Clippers won, 8-4, at Greely. The Rangers returned the favor, 8-7, in overtime, May 29 in Yarmouth. The rivals have no postseason history.

In Class C, top-ranked North Yarmouth Academy had no trouble in its quarterfinal last Thursday, dominating No. 8 Gray-New Gloucester, 18-2. Mason Parks had four goals, while Ryan Baker, Jonah Eng and Reese Farrell all contributed three. The Panthers (9-4) hosted No. 4 Waynflete (9-4) in a semifinal round showdown Tuesday. On May 9, NYA edged the visiting Flyers, 9-8. The teams had no playoff history. 

If the Panthers advance to the inaugural Class C state game, Friday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, at a time to be announced, they would face either No. 2 Fryeburg Academy (12-1) or third-ranked Lincoln Academy (12-1). NYA didn’t meet either team this year. The Panthers have never faced the Raiders in the playoffs. Their lone prior meeting with the Eagles resulted in a 12-1 victory in the 2010 Eastern B semifinals.

Girls’ lacrosse

Four local girls’ squads were still alive at press time.

In Class A North, Falmouth, the number one seed, earned a bye into Saturday’s semifinals, where it pulled away to down No. 4 Windham, 10-5. Caitlyn Camelio and Kayla Sarazin each scored three goals. The Yachtsmen will welcome No. 2 Cheverus (9-4) in the regional final Wednesday. Falmouth downed the visiting Stags, 14-9, on May 16. The teams have no playoff history.

If the Yachtsmen advance to their first ever state final Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, they would play either Kennebunk (13-0) or Massabesic (12-1). Falmouth lost, 10-3, at Kennebunk April 24 and 11-9 at the Mustangs, May 7. The Yachtsmen are 0-5 all-time in the playoffs against the Rams and have dropped the past three Class B South Finals to Kennebunk, with a 9-6 setback last year the most recent. Falmouth and Massabesic have no playoff history.

In Class B, Yarmouth, the top seed, improved to 11-2 with a 14-1 home victory over No. 9 Brunswick in Saturday’s state quarterfinals. Ehryn Groothoff, Meredith Lane, Emma Marston, Kirsten Thomas and Abi Thornton all scored two goals.

The Clippers welcomed No. 4 Messalonskee (9-4) in Wednesday’s state semifinals. The teams didn’t meet this year. Yarmouth beat the Eagles, 16-5, in the 2002 Southeast Division semifinals, in the teams’ only prior playoff encounter.

If the Clippers reach the Class B state final for the sixth year in a row, they will either face No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (8-5) or No. 3 Greely (9-4) Saturday at a time to be announced at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Yarmouth beat the Rangers, 12-10, May 30 at home. The teams have never met in the postseason in the MPA-sanctioned era, but in the 1997 Division II semifinals, Greely prevailed, 6-5. The Clippers downed the host Capers, 9-6, May 9. Yarmouth is 2-0 all-time against Cape Elizabeth in the postseason, with a 13-10 victory in the 2014 Class B state final the most recent.

Greely was fortunate to get to the semifinal round after surviving an upset bid from No. 6 Waynflete in Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Rangers were down, 5-3, with under 10 minutes to go, but rallied behind goals from Courtney Sullivan, Jayme Morrison and Sam Goldburg (with 2:27 left) to prevail, 6-5 (Morrison and Sullivan had two goals apiece and Greta Van Curan also scored).

“I owe it all to my teammates,” Goldburg said. “They’re always there to pick me up. We all push each other.”

“We felt like we had to win every draw because the game was so close,” Sullivan said. “Everyone really wanted it.”

“It didn’t look good, but we worked together as a team,” Van Curan said. “We have such great team chemistry and that helped us dig deep in the last few minutes and pull it out.”

“This is such great lacrosse, the way it should be in the playoffs,” added Greely coach Becca Koelker. “Every team you face is as good as the last one and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The Rangers go to No. 2 Cape Elizabeth for the semifinals in a rematch of the teams’ palpitating regular season finale, won, 11-10, in double-overtime by Greely June 2. The Capers have won two of three prior playoff meetings, with a 17-10 victory in the 2013 Western B semifinals the most recent.

In Class C, Freeport, the No. 4 seed, downed No. 5 Boothbay, 18-7, in the quarterfinals last Thursday. Taylor Rinaldi scored six times and Chloe Davidson added three goals. The Falcons (9-4) went to top-ranked Lake Region (11-2) for the semifinals Tuesday. The teams didn’t meet this year and had no playoff history.

If Freeport was able to spring the upset, it would go to Fitzpatrick Stadium Friday night for the inaugural Class C state final against either No. 2 St. Dom’s (10-3) or No. 6 Erskine Academy (9-4). The Falcons lost, 15-10, at home to the Saints June 1 and didn’t face Erskine this year. Freeport has no playoff history with either school.

NYA, ranked eighth, was ousted by Lake Region, 19-6, in the quarterfinals to finish 5-8. The Panthers made the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Outdoor track

The track season came to a close for select local athletes last weekend in Durham, New Hampshire.

Class A co-champion Falmouth saw its 4×100 boys’ relay team (Ethan Ali, Alvaro Fuentes, Adrian Friedman and Kyle Bouchard) place 17th (44.27 seconds). The 4x4x00 relay squad (Fuentes, Bouchard, John Auer and Douglas Cooke) was 20th in 3 minutes, 34.87 seconds. The 4×800 relay team (Aidan Hoffman, Ben Greene, Faran Igani and Sam Larlee) placed 30th (8:56.12). Auer placed 22nd in the 800 (1:59.62). Cooke was 26th in the 400 (52.13). Fuentes came in 28th in the 200 (23.31).  

Greely’s Luke Marsanskis came in 29th in the two-mile (10:23.16).

In the girls’ competition, Greely’s Carolyn Todd finished 11th in the mile (5:15.08). Teammate Marin Provencher was right behind in 12th place (5:15.42).

Freeport’s Lilly Horne finished 15th in the mile (5:17.93) and 22nd in the two-mile (11:38.80).

Falmouth’s Karley Piers was 24th in the two-mile (11:44.93). 

Press Herald writers Steve Craig, Brad Spiegel and Taylor Vortherms, Sun Journal staff writer Wil Kramlich and Times Record staff writer Bob Conn contributed to this story.

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

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