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YARMOUTH—The Yarmouth baseball team is a team is the fullest sense, relying on everyone on the roster to succeed.
Monday afternoon, in a holiday Senior Day matinee against visiting defending Class B champion Falmouth, the Clippers turned to their tried and true recipe of strong pitching, opportunistic offense and clutch defense to earn a pivotal win.
Yarmouth pounced early, as Yachtsmen senior starter Addison Foltmer was ineffective, and scored three first inning runs without the benefit of a hit to take the lead for good. Clippers senior starter Chester Jacobs wasn’t overpowering, but managed to minimize the damage and Yarmouth, while overcoming four errors, made several spectacular defensive plays to hold on.
The biggest came in the top of the seventh when Falmouth had the tying run at the plate, but reserve rightfielder Kris Cody, a stranger to the outfield, made an impressive running catch to extinguish the threat and senior Nick Lainey closed out the 6-3 victory.
Clippers senior centerfielder Caleb Uhl had two hits, scored a run and drove in another, all while manning the outfield with aplomb, six different Yarmouth players touched home plate and the Clippers improved to 9-6, dropping the Yachtsmen to 12-2 in the process.
“We play our brand of baseball,” Uhl said. “If we can get guys on, we know we’ll be successful. Falmouth’s a great team. They’ll be a team to beat come playoffs, so this is a big win for us. It’s good for our confidence.”
On the heels of its first Class B state title, Falmouth has been very, very good again in 2013. The Yachtsmen opened with a 2-0 win at Cape Elizabeth. behind a no-hitter from senior ace Thomas Fortier. After an 11-3 victory at Freeport, Falmouth beat visiting Fryeburg, 12-2, in six innings and got a second no-hitter from Fortier in a 10-0, five inning home win over Gray-New Gloucester. After a 5-1 loss at Greely, the Yachtsmen rolled at Lake Region (7-1) and at home over Poland (10-0, in five innings), then survived host Wells, 8-7 (nine innings). Fortier threw his third no-hitter in a 4-1 home win over Yarmouth and Falmouth proceeded to defeat host Poland (11-7), visiting Traip (7-0), visiting Freeport (10-5) and visiting Cape Elizabeth (4-0).
The Clippers have been up and down. Yarmouth won its first three outings: 5-2 over visiting Freeport, 3-1 over visiting Wells and 8-0 at Lake Region, before being surprised at home by Old Orchard Beach, 7-4, A 6-3 (five inning) victory at Gray-New Gloucester followed, but the next time out, at Poland, the Clippers couldn’t score a run in eight innings and fell to the Knights, 1-0. After getting back on track with a 4-2 home win over Fryeburg, Yarmouth edged visiting Cape Elizabeth, getting revenge for last June’s semifinal round playoff loss with a 2-1 victory. The Clippers then dropped a palpitating 10-7, eight inning home marathon to Greely, dropped tough decisions at Falmouth (4-1) and Greely (1-0) and after wins over visiting Gray-New Gloucester (2-1) and at Cape Elizabeth (11-1), Yarmouth lost at Freeport in its most recent action, 10-6.
In recent seasons, the visiting team has had the upper hand in this rivalry (please see sidebar, below), as Falmouth won at Yarmouth in 2011 and 2012, while the Clippers beat the Yachtsmen on their diamond.
Monday, in a game was which moved from Friday due to bad weather, Falmouth hoped to sweep Yarmouth for the first time in four years, but the Clippers instead beat the Yachtsmen at home for the first time since 2010.
Jacobs started the game by getting Falmouth senior second baseman Drew Proctor to fly to senior Mark Brown in left. Senior designated hitter Seamus Powers then ripped a shot to center, but Uhl was there to record the out. Junior shortstop Will D’Agostino drew a walk, but senior first baseman Andrew Emple grounded to third, where senior Matt Highland made a nice stop, then threw to first, where Lainey made the scoop to end the inning.
Foltmer ran into immediate trouble in the bottom half as Uhl drew a walk and senior shortstop Thomas Sullivan did the same. The runners moved up on a double steal and Lainey was hit by a pitch to load the bases (Falmouth coach Kevin Winship had a reliever get up and get loose at that point). Foltmer got senior catcher Cal Cooper to look at strike three, but on a squeeze play, Connor Lainey was hit by a pitch, scoring Uhl for a 1-0 Clippers’ lead.
A wild pitch brought Sullivan home and senior designated hitter Ian Grover drove in the third run with an RBI groundout.
“You can’t spot these guys runners,” said Winship. “They’re very aggressive. When you get in that situation, that’s not a good one against these guys.”
Falmouth got a run back in the top of the second. With one out, freshman leftfielder Connor Aube laced a double the other way, down the rightfield line, and when Connor Lainey couldn’t field it cleanly, Aube took third. Senior rightfielder Connor Murphy then ripped a double to left-center, scoring Aube to make it 3-1. Jacobs escaped further damage by getting sophomore third baseman Luke Velas and sophomore catcher Matt MacDowell to both ground out.
Yarmouth promptly answered in the bottom half.
Brown and senior second baseman Mike Smith both walked and when ball four was wild, allowing Brown to move to third, Winship had seen enough and pulled Foltmer for sophomore Ryan Mucci, who has spent most of the season with the junior varsity team.
Smith promptly stole second and Uhl lined a single to left, scoring Brown and moving Smith to third. Smith came home when Sullivan hit into a double play and the lead was 5-1.
The Yachtsmen kept the pressure on in the third, as Proctor led off by beating out an infield single and after Powers lined out to Uhl, Proctor moved to second on a wild pitch. D’Agostino walked and Emple lined a shot right at Brown in left, but Brown couldn’t catch it, allowing Emple to reach safely to load the bases. Fortier (the centerfielder) was hit by a pitch to score Proctor, but Falmouth couldn’t take further advantage as Aube popped out to second and Murphy looked at strike, keeping the score 5-2.
Yarmouth got its final run in the bottom half.
Cooper hit a soft liner to Proctor, who couldn’t hold it, then, compounding matters, threw the ball away. Cooper was pinch-run for by Lucas Uhl, who took second when Connor Lainey lined a single to left. Grover followed with a base hit to center, loading the bases and even though Highland hit into a double play, Uhl came home to make it 6-2.
Jacobs again ran into trouble in the top of the fourth, but managed to avoid a big inning.
After Velas led off with a walk, MacDowell grounded to third, but Highland’s throw to senior Kevin Haley, who had entered defensively for the inning, was dropped, putting two men on. Jacobs battled back to fan Proctor looking, but Powers singled to left to load the bases. Velas came home when D’Agostino grounded out to Haley, but that would be it for Falmouth as Emple flew out to deep left in foul territory.
In the bottom half, Uhl hit a one-out double to right-center, but he was caught for an out when D’Agostino faked a throw to first on a ground ball by Sullivan, and tagged Uhl before he could dive back into second. Sullivan was then caught stealing to end the frame.
Jacobs’ last inning, the top of the fifth, would be his best, as he got Fortier to chase a low pitch and line softly to second, then got both Aube and Murphy to ground out to shortstop.
In the bottom half, Mucci set Yarmouth down 1-2-3 as Nick Lainey flew to left, Cooper looked at strike three and Connor Lainey grounded out to second.
Nick Lainey came on for the sixth and found immediate trouble when Velas reached on a throwing error by Sullivan. After MacDowell flew deep to Uhl, Velas stole second, but Lainey got Proctor to ground out to short, then he got a superb play from Highland at first, who dove to snare Powers’ sharp ground ball before tagging the bag to keep the score 6-3.
Mucci ended his stellar relief effort by setting the Clippers down in order in the bottom half, getting Grover to fly to center, Highland to bounce out to first and senior pinch-hitter John O’Gorman to strike out swinging.
Continuing their theme of the day, the Yachtsmen threatened again in the top of the seventh, but were ultimately frustrated.
D’Agostino got things started with a single to center. Emple then ripped a shot to deep center, but for one final time, Uhl ran it down for the out.
Uhl credited his pitchers for helping the fielders stay on their toes.
“With Chester and Lainey on the mound, we know they’ll throw strikes and we’ll be in the game,” Uhl said. “All eight positions in the field play great defense.”
“I obsess over centerfield,” Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted said. “I’ve had three guys in seven years who can go get it. Pete Strand, Jeff Kuklowicz, Caleb Uhl. Pete Strand is a guy probably no one remembers, but he set the tone as a nice centerfielder. You have to be able to go get the ball in the gaps and make nice plays. Uhl just made normal plays today. He made ridiculous catches at Cape Elizabeth. He’s just an amazing athlete.”
That out loomed large as Fortier singled to right. That brought up Aube, who cracked a shot down the rightfield line that appeared ticketed to be yet another extra base hit. Instead, Cody got a good jump and running to his left, ran it down for the out. Had Cody not reached the ball, two runs would have scored and the tying run might have been standing at third base.
“That was a huge catch,” Uhl said. “It was big for him to come in and catch it.”
“(Kris has) never played an inning of outfield in his life,” Halsted said. “He transitioned to the outfield last week. He was in there because he can cut off ground balls in the gap. He wasn’t in there to catch a ball and he went out and made a great catch.”
Instead, Jacobs faced Murphy with a chance to end it and that he did by getting him to line out.
Yarmouth 6 Falmouth 3.
“The bottom line was we took advantage of early walks,” Halsted said. “I love the little things. We scored three runs on three hard ground balls. That’s good Yarmouth baseball. We don’t have as many doubles as a team this year as Bryce Snyder had last year. We’ll go out and play good fundamentally strong baseball and have a good approach at the plate. It’s nice to see our guys step up when it mattered most, on Senior Day.”
The Clippers only managed four hits, but Uhl had two of them, including his team’s only extra base knock. He also scored a run and had an RBI. Brown, Nick Lainey, Smith, Sullivan and Lucas Uhl also touched home plate, while Grover and Connor Lainey added RBIs. Brown, Smith, Sullivan and Caleb Uhl stole bases.
Jacobs improved to 5-1 after allowing just three runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings. He walked four, fanned two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
“I felt pretty good,” Jacobs said. “I didn’t blow many people away, but I was able to throw strikes and I have a great defense. I was able to get out of trouble. It’s always nice to have a lead. I would’ve liked to have been sharper, a little less wild. I had to be on my game all the way through.”
“It’s nice when you have a future Bowdoin student on the mound,” Halsted said. “He knows he wasn’t great, but he knows how to compete, how to work counts and he has a smart guy behind the plate.”
Nick Lainey got the save after giving up two hits in two scoreless frames.
“Lainey’s great,” Jacobs said. “He did a good job shutting it down.”
For Falmouth, Aube, Proctor and Velas scored, D’Agostino, Fortier and Murphy had RBIs and Aube and Murphy both doubled. Velas had the Yachtsmen’s lone stolen base.
Foltmer fell to 2-1 after giving up five runs on no hits in his one-plus inning. He walked four, hit two batters, threw two wild pitches and struck out a pair.
“I don’t know what was going on,” Winship said. “I’ll let (pitching) coach (Craig) Pendleton figure out what went on.”
Mucci, meanwhile, had a stellar effort, allowing one unearned run on four hits and no walks in five innings. He fanned two.
“Ryan Mucci was a positive,” Winship said. “He’s a sophomore who pitched JV. He went to Florida (for a preseason trip) with us. He pitched well down there. He’s gotten his innings in JV. I thought he came in and did an excellent job. He gave us an opportunity to win. He didn’t expect to come in this game at all and he got outs.”
Falmouth ultimately was done in by its early deficit and inability to deliver baserunners.
“We had plenty of opportunities to win this game and we didn’t get it done,” Winship said. “We left 11 runners on. I’d like to see the bats come alive. In spite of the hiccup we had at the beginning of the game, I think our pitching is fine. Defensively, we’re as good as anybody in the state. I’d like to see us hit more. We can’t leave 11 guys on base.”
Falmouth (second to Greely in the Western B Heals) welcomes York Tuesday and finishes at Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday.
“I don’t think (this loss) means anything (in regards to the Heals),” said Winship. “I think we’re in the 2 spot, but I don’t know. We just want to get in. We can’t determine who we match up with. It would’ve been nice to beat these guys, but we’ll learn from the loss. If we win of these last two games, we’ll be 2.”
Yarmouth (now fifth in the region) closes at York Wednesday.
“We can’t look past York,” Jacobs said. “They’re a great team. We have to give it everything we can and hopefully build on this win to have momentum for the playoffs.”
“I think we can play with anybody,” Uhl said. “Playoffs is a new season. We have to focus.”
“We needed this to hopefully be the No. 5 seed,” Halsted added. “We want to host a game in the playoffs. That’s what we play for every year. Win 10 games and host a playoff game.”
Falmouth sophomore Ryan Mucci, the bright spot for the Yachtsmen Monday, throws a strike. Mucci came on in relief in the second inning and allowed just one run the rest of the way.
Falmouth senior second baseman Drew Proctor makes a throw to first.
Yarmouth senior second baseman Kevin Haley takes a throw too late to catch Falmouth sophomore Luke Velas, who steals second in the sixth inning.
Yarmouth senior Nick Lainey delivers a pitch during his relief stint.
Yarmouth’s Kris Cody makes a lead-preserving, running catch in the seventh inning, helping secure the victory.
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 1
Falmouth 5 @ Yarmouth 0
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 4
Yarmouth 7 @ Falmouth 5
Falmouth 9 @ Yarmouth 1
Falmouth 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Falmouth 8 Yarmouth 7
@ Falmouth 9 Yarmouth 8
@ Yarmouth 4 Falmouth 3
Falmouth 8 @ Yarmouth 5
@ Falmouth 9 Yarmouth 2
Yarmouth 9 @ Falmouth 5
Falmouth 14 @ Yarmouth 1 (5 innings)
@ Yarmouth 2 Falmouth 0
Falmouth 6 @ Yarmouth 5
@ Falmouth 9 Yarmouth 8
@ Yarmouth 8 Falmouth 2
Falmouth 6 @ Yarmouth 3
@ Falmouth 10 Yarmouth 4
Yarmouth senior Chester Jacobs, the winning pitcher, congratulates senior Nick Lainey (12) after Lainey saves Monday’s 6-3 home win over defending state champion Falmouth.
More photos below.
F- 011 100 0- 3 6 1
Y- 321 000 x- 6 4 4
Connor Lainey hit by pitch, Uhl scored. Sullivan scored on wild pitch. Grover grounded into fielder’s choice, Nick Lainey scored.
Murphy doubled to left-center, Aube scored.
Uhl singled to left, Brown scored. Sullivan grounded into double play, Smith scored.
Fortier hit by pitch, Proctor scored.
Highland grounded into double play, Lucas Uhl scored.
D’Agostino grounded to second, Velas scored.
Y- C. Uhl 2
F- Aube, Proctor, Velas
Y- Brown, N. Lainey, Smith, Sullivan, C. Uhl, L. Uhl
F- D’Agostino, Fortier, Murphy
Y- Grover, C. Lainey, C. Uhl
F- Aube, Murphy
Y- Brown, Smith, Sullivan, C. Uhl
Jacobs, N. Lainey (6) and Cooper; Foltmer, Mucci (2) and MacDowell.
Foltmer (L, 2-1) 1 IP 0 H 5 R 5 ER 4 BB 2 K 2 HBP 2 WP
Mucci 5 IP 4 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
Jacobs (W, 5-1) 5 IP 4 H 3 R 1 ER 4 BB 2 K 1 HBP 1 WP
N. Lainey (save) 2 IP 2 H 0 R 0 BB 0 K