YARMOUTH—Two days after a self-described lifeless performance in a home setback to Cape Elizabeth, its first loss of the 2010 season, the Yarmouth baseball team had no trouble turning up the intensity Friday afternoon when rival Falmouth came calling.
The Clippers’ bats awoke early and returned to life late, ripping 13 hits, including a long home run by junior Luke Pierce which snapped a tie and put the hosts ahead to stay. Yarmouth tacked on six runs in the sixth inning and thanks to gutsy starting pitching from junior Aidan Sullivan and a clutch relief performance from senior Reed Wommack, improved to 8-1 on the season with a 13-5 victory.
The loss dropped the Yachtsmen to 6-3.
“We had no emotion against Cape Elizabeth and they were a better team and they beat us,” said Clippers coach Marc Halsted. “Today, it was great to have 18 guys working together, we had an active bench, we were aggressive on the basepaths and we got some good hitting. This was fun. We had energy.”
The numbers suggest that this Yarmouth’s finest team since it moved up to Class B. After being ousted in the quarterfinals in 2009, the Clippers started this year by dispatching Fryeburg, Lake Region, Wells, Freeport, Poland, Gray-New Gloucester, Poland again and York by a composite 75-8 margin. Wednesday, however, the Clippers couldn’t solve Cape Elizabeth senior lefty Conor Moloney and went down to a 7-0 defeat.
“We hadn’t trailed in a game all season,” Halsted said. “All of sudden, Cape scored two runs and we got quiet for seven innings. No emotion. That’s why we lost.”
Standing in Yarmouth’s way Friday was a Falmouth squad that has been very competitive in coach Kevin Winship’s initial season. The Yachtsmen dropped their opener, 4-2, at Cape Elizabeth, then rattled off five straight wins (including home triumphs over Gray-New Gloucester, 10-1, and Greely, 7-5). Monday, Falmouth was stunned at home, 5-4, by Poland, but Wednesday bounced back to defeat visiting York, 9-2.
Both teams showed their hitting prowess Friday, but the Clippers manufactured more offense and got the timely hits.
Junior Aidan Sullivan got the start for Yarmouth and worked his way out of a jam in the top of the first. With one out, Sullivan walked his counterpart, junior Dillon Dresser, and with two down, senior third baseman Mitch Beaulieu cracked a single. An error moved the runners to second and third, but Sullivan bounced back and struck out senior designated hitter E.J. Rogers on a breaking pitch.
The Clippers staked Sullivan to a 3-0 lead in the bottom half.
Senior centerfielder Jeff Kuklewicz got things started with a double to right-center. With one out, Pierce singled to right and the hosts were ahead, 1-0. It looked like Dresser would escape the inning with just the one run surrendered, but with two outs, after Pierce stole second and third on successive pitches, Sullivan hit a fly ball to rightfield that was dropped, allowing Pierce to score and Sullivan to scamper to second. Junior third baseman Joey King followed with an RBI single to right-center and Yarmouth appeared in control, up three.
Sullivan got in trouble again in the top of the second, allowing a leadoff single to senior rightfielder Ben Burnes. An attempted pickoff throw by Sullivan went wild and Burnes took second. With two outs, sophomore second baseman Ryan MacDonald walked, but Sullivan escaped when he induced junior shortstop Joe Barns to ground out to short.
A double play ended the Clippers half of the second and the visitors got on the board in the top of the third.
With one out, junior catcher Matt MacDowell walked. A wild pitch moved him to second and an error on a ground ball put runners at the corners. After Rogers lined to left for a sacrifice fly, Burnes crushed a ball to deep center, which one-hopped the wall, scoring another run to make it 3-2. After a walk, Sullivan got junior Ben Goffin to ground out, allowing the hosts to cling to the lead.
After Yarmouth went in order in the bottom of the inning, Falmouth threatened again in the fourth when MacDonald walked and stole second, but he was stranded there.
The Clippers made it 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth. After Sullivan led off with a single, he took second on a wild pitch. A grounder to the right side moved him to third and Halsted called upon senior Conor Costello to pinch-hit. On the second pitch, Sullivan broke for home and Costello put down a textbook squeeze bunt and Yarmouth had a two-run lead.
“They were aggressive and they executed the squeeze,” Winship said. “We had a lefty on the mound so they were going first move, which really put our catcher in a tough position. Matty’s probably one of, if not the best catcher in the league. They did a good job going first move off Dillon. His hands were tied. He couldn’t stop him.”
The lead wouldn’t last for long.
Beaulieu doubled to left to get things started in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Burnes crushed a long RBI double and junior Brett Emmertz followed with a base hit to right that sent Burnes to third. Emmertz moved to second on the throw. A line out to right by junior first baseman Ben Goffin tied the game at 4-4.
Dresser got the first out in the bottom of the fifth, but Kuklewicz walked. Senior second baseman Travis Merrill hit a ground ball to second that might have been ticketed for a double play, but the throw to second was high and both runners were safe. After fouling off a bunt attempt to start his ensuing at-bat, Pierce got a nice fat pitch and pounded it deep over the rightfielder’s head and over the fence and the Clippers were ahead to stay, 7-4.
“I’m pretty sure it was a curveball,” Pierce said. “I got the thick part of the bat on it. It felt good.”
“The lacrosse coaches said it hit the track (down the hill from the baseball diamond) in the air and bounced onto the lacrosse field,” Halsted marveled. “I wish I could do that.”
Still, Falmouth refused to roll over in the sixth.
After Barns reached on an error, MacDowell chased Sullivan (5.1 innings, 5 runs, 2 earned, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts and 3 wild pitches) with a deep double to left-center, making it a 7-5 game.
“Aidan didn’t have his best stuff, but he gutted it out,” Halsted said.
Wommack, who had only limited experience this season, was then called upon in a big spot and he sparkled, getting Beaulieu to ground out and setting Rogers down with a called third strike.
“When I came in two runs up, I was a little bit worried,” Wommack said. “I don’t have a lot of experience on the mound. This is really the first year I’ve been pitching. I’ve only pitched in spot situations, but not against a team like Falmouth.”
“Hopefully in the future, (Reed) can be the kind of guy to give us one or two good innings before we go to a Nick Whittaker or Campbell Haley to shut it down,” Halsted said. “He’s one of the smarter human beings I’ve ever known. I knew he could get it done.”
Prior to the bottom of the sixth, Halsted pled for his charges to give him two more runs.
They tripled that request.
After junior Campbell Belisle-Haley got things started with an infield single and stole second, senior rightfielder Dan Kameisha hit an RBI single to make it 8-5. Kuklewicz followed with a hit, a wild pitch brought home the ninth run and a Pierce RBI single made it a 10-5 contest, ending the day for Dresser (5.1 innings, 12 hits, 12 runs, 9 earned, 1 walk, 2 Ks, a hit batter and a wild pitch).
“(Dillon) had some good stuff,” Winship said. “Some of his fastballs were up and (Yarmouth) took advantage. He struggled early-on getting a curveball for a first pitch strike, but he battled.”
After the pitching change, a fielder’s choice scored a run, Pierce raced home from second on a sacrifice bunt and King had an RBI single.
Wommack quickly brought the curtain down in the seventh, forcing a ground ball to third, a fly ball to right and a groundout to shortstop.
Yarmouth 13 Falmouth 5
“It was fun to pitch with an eight-run lead,” said Wommack (1.2 innings, no runs, hits or walks and 1 K). “For a pitcher without a lot of confidence, it’s a lot easier to throw strikes with a bigger lead and have fun. I got some help from my defense.”
Pierce had three hits, including his home run. Kameisha, King, Kuklewicz and Sullivan also had multiple hits.
Suddenly, the Clippers felt a lot better about themselves.
“It’s a great win for us,” said Pierce. “(Falmouth’s) a good hitting team. (Dillon’s) a crafty pitcher. Coach emphasized that the other day in our Cape loss, our passion just wasn’t there. We have a really tough stretch here. We hoped to get two out of three this week and we did.”
“I think we do feel like there’s pressure and we put the pressure on ourselves.,” Wommack said. “We had a relatively easy schedule until now, but the Cape loss was a wakeup call. We recovered from that loss and moved on. I think when we face them again, we’ll give them a much better game.”
“Falmouth’s a good team,” Halsted added. “We definitely respect them. Falmouth, Cape, Greely, York, if you don’t have a great effort against those teams, you’ll lose. We did the little things right.”
The Yachtsmen had four doubles among their seven hits, but not at the optimal time.
“It comes down to they made the plays and we didn’t,” Winship said. “They had some timely hitting. I was really happy with the way my guys came back. Down three early, we battled back. We just didn’t make the big play when we had to. They capitalized every time we made a mistake. We have to give those guys credit. They swung the bats great today. I don’t think the score was reflective of how the game was played.”
Burnes led Falmouth with three hits, including two doubles. Beaulieu had two hits, including a two-bagger.
The Yachtsmen (fifth in the Western B Heal Points standings) look to return to form Monday at Fryeburg.
“I’m having a great time,” Winship said. “The kids are working hard for me. We get (Yarmouth) again at our place. We’re looking forward to it. I think any team can beat any team in this league. You run into a good pitcher and that’s all it’s going to take.”
The Clippers (third in Western B) continue to run their gauntlet next week when they play at defending Class B state champion Greely and have a rematch at Cape Elizabeth Wednesday. Yarmouth visits Falmouth May 26.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com
Falmouth junior Matt MacDowell slides into third base while Yarmouth junior Joey King receives the throw during Friday’s game. The Clippers did most of the hitting and running, winning 13-5.
In the top of the sixth inning, with the game still in the balance, Falmouth senior Mitch Beaulieu tried to elude the tag of Yarmouth senior first baseman Nick Whittaker to no avail.
Yarmouth senior Jeff Kuklewicz slides safely into second base for a steal before Falmouth junior shortstop Joe Barns can apply the tag.
Falmouth junior first baseman Nick Goffin stretches to complete the out on a ground ball hit by Yarmouth senior Nick Whittaker.
Yarmouth junior Luke Pierce’s fifth inning home run snapped a tie game and got a “low five” from coach Marc Halsted.
Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted hits the ground to make sure junior Campbell Belisle-Haley slides in safely during the sixth inning Friday. The Clippers scored six times in that frame to pull away.