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OLD ORCHARD BEACH—The Waynflete baseball team made it into the 2010 playoffs, but its stay was brief.
Despite a valiant effort Tuesday afternoon, the Flyers, the ninth seed, were one-and-done as they were hampered by defensive miscues and a lack of consistent offense in a 5-2 loss to eighth-ranked Old Orchard Beach in the Western C preliminary round at The Ballpark.
The teams were tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth, but after a 23-minute rain delay, the Seagulls scored a run, then added two more in the sixth. Despite producing baserunners in virtually every inning, Waynflete couldn’t put together a rally and saw its best season in years come to an end at 6-8.
“There’s a lot more to be happy about than to be upset about, but it does hurt to know we were that close to making the next round,” said Flyers coach Steve Kautz.
Here come the Flyers
Waynflete won a total of six games the past three years, but made great strides in 2010. After sweeping a doubleheader from Traip to end the regular season, the Flyers earned the ninth and final seed for the Western C playoffs, setting up Tuesday’s contest with an Old Orchard Beach squad they went 1-2 against in the regular season.
Perhaps displaying a few nerves, Waynflete fell behind 2-0 after one inning.
The Flyers went down 1-2-3 against Seagulls starter Brandon Seavey in the top half. Evan Bujnowski lead off the bottom of the inning by flying to left, but senior leftfielder Sam Fillinger lost the ball in the sun and it dropped in for a double. After a sacrifice moved Bujnowski to third, James McDermott drove him home with an RBI single that barely got over the head of freshman first baseman Andrew Butler. McDermott then stole second and went to third on a wild throw, then came home on an RBI groundout by Brandon Ouellette.
Waynflete got its runs in the top of the second.
Junior catcher Tom Ryan led off with a walk. After freshman pitcher Charlie Laprade beat out an infield hit, Butler sacrificed the runners up to second and third. A sacrifice fly off the bat of rightfielder Sam Murphy made it 2-1 and a double down the leftfield line off the bat of centerfielder Noah Aronson tied the score.
The game remained deadlocked until after the rains came.
Old Orchard Beach had a batter reach on an error, but get stranded at third in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third, the Flyers had a great opportunity to take the lead when Fillinger reached on an error, went to second on a sacrifice and to third on senior second baseman David Gorsky’s infield hit, but Ryan failed to get a squeeze bunt down and Fillinger was tagged out, killing the rally.
The Seagulls went in order in bottom of the third and Waynflete (with Ouellette now on the mound) did the same in the top of the fourth, but the hosts broke the tie in their half.
Ryan Gallant led off with a walk and stole second. After a strikeout, Garrett Hayes, the designated hitter, came through with a single to right, just under the glove of Gorsky, and Gallant raced home to make it 3-2.
Again, Waynflete threatened in the fifth.
With one out, third baseman Tom Spagnola walked. Fillinger reached on an error, putting runners at first and second. A wild pitch put both in scoring position, but senior shortstop Max Ritchie grounded to shortstop, where Gallant threw home for the out on Spagnola. Gorsky then grounded out to third and it remained 3-2.
After Laprade stranded two runners in the bottom of the fifth, the Flyers got a one-out walk by Laprade in the top of the sixth. He moved up on an errant pickoff throw and Butler followed with a walk, but Murphy laced a sharp grounder to short and Gallant started a 6-4-3 double play to again allow Old Orchard Beach to escape an inning.
The hosts got some insurance in the bottom of the sixth as Jason Dutton reached on an error, Laprade balked him to second, an error scored one run and a Bujnowski sacrifice fly made it 5-2.
In the seventh, facing Nick Harriman, Aronson opened the inning by drawing a walk, but pinch hitter John Sherman popped out and Fillinger and Ritchie grounded out to end it.
“Timing is everything,” Kautz lamented. “When it was 2-2, we missed two or three signals, where we were unable to execute. A squeeze play or a double steal. That could have put the pressure on their defense. If we had a 3-2 lead, I would have liked our chances. Guys tried to do too much in the sixth inning.
“Compared to where we were, the fact they brought their big guy in the fourth inning is a sign of respect. It hurts now, but the kids will feel proud later. It was a big turnaround season for us.”
Laprade gave up just two earned runs on four hits and six walks. He fanned four.
“Charlie fought through with guys on base,” Kautz said. “He’s only a freshman.”
Waynflete mustered just three hits against Seavey, Ouellette (the winner) and Harriman (who got the save). The Seagulls only had four hits, but took advantage of four Waynflete errors.
Kautz paid tribute to his seniors for helping restore the Flyers to respectability.
“These seniors put in an unbelievable amount of hours,” he said. “They’ve literally taken thousands of ground balls and hit in the cage above and beyond regular practice hours. I can’t say enough about what they did. We’ll miss them big-time.”
The good news is that many key players will return in 2011, when Waynflete will be viewed as a legitimate contender from start to finish.
“We need to figure out who’s going to replace some key positions,” Kautz said. “Mostly, we need to continue the work ethic that the kids bought into this year and maintain the fun. That’s a key ingredient of our program. Keeping that balance. We have some good incoming freshmen. Next year’s leaders need to be the kind of leaders that this year’s seniors were. I expect that they will be.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org