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YARMOUTH—There is no identity crisis spreading around the Yarmouth baseball dugout these days. The Clippers’ all-out style has produced six straight wins with the same consistent, aggressive disposition.
At this point, every player on the field understands the methods behind the approach coach Marc Halsted has simply branded, “Yarmouth Baseball.”
Whatever they call small-ball mixed with constant pressure and spiced with power, the Clippers kept rolling Friday, sweeping the season series from Greely with a 4-2 win on a fine afternoon for a Western B rivalry game.
Campbell Haley had a day for Yarmouth (14-1). The junior used all the gimmicks the game seems to favor on lefthanders to strike out 10 Rangers in a complete-game three-hitter. Haley hid a lazy bender he dropped in for strikes with a deceptive delivery and rose to each Greely challenge late with just enough fastballs to effectively change speeds.
He did work for the win. Haley needed 112 pitches over the distance, despite walking just two batters and limiting the Rangers to a pair of runs.
That’s on the mound. At the plate, Haley tripled and scored to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third and knocked in the game-winning run in the fifth with a base hit to center that gave the Clippers a 3-2 lead.
Yarmouth senior Jeff Kuklewicz was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth and came around to score on a throwing error to make it 4-2.
“We always look to take the extra base,” said Halsted. “We always want to go first to third. That’s a game-changing play. Kuklewicz has the green light out there. He steals and draws a throw that goes in the outfield. That’s an extra run for us.”
Haley survived a bases loaded jam in the seventh when he got junior Ben Shain waving at a curveball for the Rangers final out. Haley issued a leadoff walk, a base hit to senior Carter Cyr and an infield error that loaded the bases with two outs.
Shain, the Rangers starting pitcher, dodged a major bullet in the first after hitting three-straight batters to load the bases. Shain got the Clippers’ leadoff hitter on a grounder to second, briefly went “Wild Thing” and plunked the next three, but wiggled off the hook with a strikeout and a fly ball to end the inning.
Hitting three-straight batters would qualify for the category of not something you see everyday and so would the hanging curveball that clanked off the side of Yarmouth junior Luke Pierce’s helmet and cleared the backstop, taking the line a foul ball might into the trees behind home plate. That one might never happen again.
Greely opened up a 2-0 lead after the top of the second when Haley was still trying to find his groove. Senior Ben Walsh drew a leadoff walk for the Rangers. A
Haley was also victimized by a throwing motion that ends with him falling away toward third base on a base hit by Greely senior Ben Russell.
Russell’s ground ball to the hole at second was gloved by Yarmouth junior Aidan Sullivan ranging far to his right at first base, but when Sullivan planted to throw, Haley was still on his way to the bag and Russell reached as Walsh went to third.
With Greely senior Dan O’Brien at the plate, Haley fired a wild pitch over the head of senior catcher Nick Proscia and Walsh scored easily with the game’s first run.
Russell went all the way to third on the pitch, but Haley battled back and struck out O’Brien for the first out of the inning. The Rangers designated hitter, sophomore Brad McKinney, grounded to second base and picked up an RBI when the Clippers elected to take the second out at first and Russell and came in the back door for a 2-0 Greely lead.
Interesting to note, Haley escaped further damage in the second by winning a footrace to the bag and just barely getting Cyr sliding headfirst on another ground ball to Sullivan that ended the inning.
Yarmouth got one back in the home half of the second. Senior Reed Wommack topped slowly down the chalk toward third and reached when the ball stayed fair down the line. Wommack moved up to second on an errant pickoff attempt, took third on a balk and scored on an error on a routine ground ball to second.
Shain walked the next two batters to load the bases, but got Yarmouth senior Nick Whittaker to line out to center and Greely still held a 2-1 lead after the second.
By now, Shain’s luck was running thin and Haley used it to get another swing and triple to deep center on the next pitch. Haley had popped foul down the leftfield line and the Greely third baseman had a beat on it, but stumbled on uneven ground as the ball went into his glove and back out. Senior Dustin McCrossin chopped through the hole on the left side to knock in Haley and pull Yarmouth even at 2-2 after three complete.
In the fifth, the Clippers trademark extra-base mentality proved to be the difference in the game. With a runner on second, Sullivan chopped right back to Shain. The runner got hung up and eventually tagged out at third, but Sullivan made a great read and took second on the play. That would be it for Shain, as the righthander exited with one out and a runner on second base.
His replacement, righthanded sophomore Mike Leeman, watched as Haley jumped on his second pitch and sent it sharply to center to score Sullivan as the Clippers took a 3-2 lead.
“That’s the type of baseball we like to play,” Haley said. “Even if we make a mistake, we try and turn it into something positive. Sullivan took the extra base and scored on a single instead of just moving him over.”
Haley retired the Rangers in order in the sixth and Yarmouth tacked on another run in the bottom half to go on top 4-2. Leeman returned and hit Kuklewicz to start the inning. Senior Travis Merrill bunted him over to second. Kuklewicz took off for third and ended up scoring on strike three to Whittaker. With a chance at a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double-play, the Greely catcher dodged Whittaker and threw wildly into leftfield trying to get Kuklewicz at third to end the inning.
Trailing 4-2, the Rangers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t push a run across. With one out and a runner on first, Cyr ripped a hard single to center to put runners on first and second. Haley got the second out a third on a chopper to McCrossin, but the Rangers loaded the bases on an infield error as sophomore Pete Stauber reached on a grounder to second. But the Clippers held on when Haley got ahead of Shain 1-2 and set him down swinging at a curveball in the dirt to end the game.
The loss puts the Rangers at 10-5, good for sixth-place in the league standings with one regular season game left. Greely can write its own ticket at home against Cape Elizabeth on June 2.
“We’re keeping things in perspective,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “We’re still in a good spot. And we can’t play much worse than we did today. It’s too bad because that’s a very good baseball team that didn’t have their best day. We had an opportunity to maybe surprise them. We’ve played six games in nine days, we might be a little tired. But that’s not an excuse. When you’re playing a rival we have to get up and play better.”
As the calendar flips to June, the 14-1 Clippers find themselves still embroiled in a season-long affair with first place, held at bay in second by a Cape Elizabeth team with the same record and similar intentions. Yarmouth will become Rangers fans for a day next Wednesday, when they host North Yarmouth at the same time Greely closes out at home against the Capers.
“We’re happy with the win but we didn’t play our best baseball,” said Pierce. “We missed a few signs early and made some careless mistakes. But we always want to be aggressive, running the bases or playing small-ball. That’s always been our mentality. The big hits will come, but if we can manufacture a couple of runs like we did today. That’s beautiful.”
Greely senior Ben Russell leaps for the ball during Friday’s contest at Yarmouth. Despite Russell’s efforts, the Rangers lost for the second time this spring to the Clippers, 4-2.
Greely sophomore Sean Ross slides into second while Yarmouth junior Luke Pierce tries to take the throw and is backed up by senior Travis Merrill.
Greely junior pitcher Ben Shain kept the Rangers in the game Friday, but the Rangers only managed two runs in defeat.
Yarmouth senior Travis Merrill takes the throw as Greely senior Ben Russell slides into second.
Yarmouth junior Campbell Haley shows his form during Friday’s 4-2 home win over Greely.
More photos below.