FALMOUTH – Hand it to Thomas Fortier and Ryan Conley of Falmouth. They make the most of their chances.
Fortier, a left-hander, pitched a two-hitter on three days’ rest, and Conley followed a missed bunt with a two-run homer to lead Falmouth past Morse 3-0 in a Western Class B baseball semifinal Monday.
The game was rescheduled from Saturday because the field at Falmouth High was too wet after downpours Friday.
The second-seeded Yachtsmen (15-3) next play No. 9 Cape Elizabeth (10-8) in the regional final at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College.
Falmouth Coach Kevin Winship said Nick Spencer was set to start against Morse (13-5) on Saturday. With the delay, Winship played a hunch.
“Thomas said he felt good,” Winship said. “So we said, ‘OK, let’s see what you’ve got.”‘
Turns out, he had plenty. Fortier allowed a single in the third inning and a double in the sixth, both to Morse starting pitcher Aaron Bartlett. Fortier struck out nine and walked one, and that was intentional.
“I found out around 3 p.m. and I said, ‘OK, let’s do this,'” Fortier said of his pitching assignment.
“In the beginning, my fastball wasn’t going out as well as I like it to. Once I started getting warm, I started throwing it in there.”
Bartlett, meanwhile, was just as strong early on. Also a lefty, he gave up only two hits through five innings before Falmouth broke through in the sixth with Conley’s two-run homer and two doubles. Bartlett struck out six.
The Yachtsmen’s first big hit was Connor Murphy’s single to left in the sixth. Conley then tried to drop a sacrifice bunt but missed.
“I had to do something to make up for it,” Conley said.
He got his chance: Winship scrubbed the bunt for a hit-and-run.
“It was a fastball right down the middle,” Conley said. “And I got good contact.”
Conley’s first career home run, over the center-field fence, brought home Murphy and gave Falmouth a 2-0 lead. Drew Proctor followed with a double to left-center, and Matt McDowell came on as a pinch runner. After a strikeout, Grayson Beressi’s shot to left-center dropped in for a double that drove home McDowell.
A groundout moved Beressi to third, but Morse catcher Wade Hunt ended the inning by catching Will D’Agostino’s foul in front of the Shipbuilders’ dugout.
All this came moments after Falmouth escaped Morse’s one real scoring chance. Bartlett doubled in the top of the sixth, but miscommunication wasted a bunt that would have moved him to third. Fortier caught C.J. Hardin’s foul popup for the second out. After a catcher’s interference call put men on first and second, and Falmouth elected to intentionally walk Morse’s best hitter, Zack Groat, to load the bases. Fortier then got his glove on Trent Moore’s hard-hit ball, which died in the infield and resulted in a forceout at second.
“It came down to that one pitch,” Morse Coach Garrett Olson said. “We were two inches from scoring on a line drive, and it hit the pitcher. Things like that happen in baseball.
(The team) is hurting right now, but they’ve come a long ways. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Falmouth, meanwhile, is now preparing for the Capers, who reached the regional final with wins over top-ranked Greely and No. 4 Yarmouth.
“Cape’s a solid team,” Winship said. “Cape’s playing well. We know each other well. It’s a big rivalry, I’m expecting a really good game. I’m looking forward to it.”