Rangers hold off Yarmouth, 8-7

Ever since they were upset in last year’s quarterfinals, the Greely baseball team has longed for revenge against the Yarmouth Clippers.

It took nearly a whole year and then an extra 43 minutes Tuesday afternoon (the umpires had the wrong starting time), but the Rangers were able to strike back, rallying from a 5-2 deficit and beating the host Clippers, 8-7.

Senior Sam Stauber overcame a tough start on the mound and went the distance, closing the game with his best inning of the contest and junior Luke Booth delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the seventh inning that proved to be the difference as Greely improved to 9-2 and dropped Yarmouth to 5-5.

“We talked about how they beat us in the playoffs last year and how we wanted to get them back,” Stauber said. “It feels good to beat them.”

“I expected a tight game with these guys,” added Rangers coach Derek Soule. “They’re definitely one of the better teams in the conference. It’s a rivalry now. It’s fun to be in a game that see-saws back and forth. I liked how our kids, each time we got down, tied it up or took the lead. I especially liked it when we did it in the seventh inning and then kept it.”

Renewing acquaintances

Greely’s run as Class B champion came to an end last June 12 when Yarmouth came to Cumberland and shocked the Rangers 9-2. Greely has bounced back nicely in 2009, winning eight of its first 10 (losing only to Cape Elizabeth and Gray-New Gloucester).

The Clippers, meanwhile, entered the season as one of the favorites, but have been up-and-down. Last week was a great example. Last Wednesday, Yarmouth beat visiting defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth, 7-2, but Saturday, the Clippers were stunned, 5-3, at Freeport (a team Yarmouth beat 12-0 just a week before).

Once the men in blue arrived Tuesday, an entertaining contest ensued.

The hosts went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first thanks to a single from sophomore catcher Luke Pierce, a wild pitch and an errant pickoff throw from Stauber.

Greely’s offense came to life against Clippers sophomore starter Nick Whittaker in the top of the second. Senior first baseman Pat Copp led off with a walk. Senior third baseman Kevin Hart then doubled to left-center. After senior catcher Ryan Howland tied the score with an RBI groundout, a Whittaker wild pitch put the visitors ahead, 2-1.

Yarmouth then seemingly took control in the bottom half, taking advantage of two errors to score four times. Junior centerfielder Jeff Kuklewicz had an RBI base hit and senior second baseman Chan Arndt hit a bloop double to score a pair and make it 5-2.

The Rangers came right back, however.

After Whittaker hit freshman rightfielder Pete Stauber to start the inning, Greely loaded the bases, scored once on a wild pitch, got a two-run single from Hart, and went up 6-5 when junior leftfielder Ben Russell walked with the bases loaded.

“The last couple games, we’ve gotten down early and had to battle back,” said Hart. “We’ve gotten used to it. Quality at-bats got us back in the game.”

The visitors tacked on another run in the fourth when, after an error prolonged the frame, Hart hit a two-out RBI single.

Yarmouth pulled within 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI groundout from sophomore first baseman Aidan Sullivan, then tied it in the sixth when with two outs, Arndt doubled and raced home after senior leftfielder Andrew Totta’s single was misplayed in the outfield.

Whittaker was over 100 pitches when the seventh inning dawned, but he was given the chance to finish the job. After Copp reached on an infield single, Whittaker threw a pair of wild pitches to move him to third. Then, with two outs, Booth came up big, smacking a full-count pitch into rightfield to put Greely ahead, 8-7.

“It’s always difficult to come off the bench without time to warm up,” Soule said. “That was huge. It was a hard-hit ball. It was ripped. That was big.”

Stauber also had thrown more than 100 pitches entering his final inning, but he wasn’t about to pass up the chance to close it out. Stauber struck out sophomore designated hitter Dustin McCrossin looking, induced junior shortstop Reed Wommack to bounce out to first, then got Sullivan to fly to right to end it.

“I talked to (Sam) and he very quickly said he felt great,” Soule said. “He obviously did feel good. His stuff was as good in the seventh inning as any.”

“I was pretty fired up at the end there after we got the nice hit from Luke,” Stauber said. “I figured I could ride the momentum and shut them down and I did. Early on, we came out a little soft defensively and the errors made me fumble a little bit. I recovered all right. I found the pitches at the end.”

Stauber gave up seven runs on seven hits with five walks, a wild pitch and a hit-batter, but he struck out six and made the pitches that counted the most.

“Sam deserved every bit of the credit today,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted. “He was the story. He was excellent.”

Hart had three hits and senior centerfielder Nate Martin added a pair to lead the Rangers’ offense. Arndt was the lone repeat hitter for the Clippers, ripping a pair of doubles. Whittaker went 6.2 innings and allowed eight runs on 10 hits and four walks with four wild pitches and a hit-batter. He fanned seven.

“We hit a guy to lead off an inning after getting four runs,” Halsted lamented. “We know that’s a backbreaker. We also had kids who made mistakes who won’t make those mistakes that often. We have great, competitive kids. Their best kids got the job done. It was fun. We expected to win today. That says something about our kids. This is Class B West right now. Anyone can beat anyone.”

The Clippers (sixth in the latest Heals) were right back in action Wednesday (too late for print) at Gray-New Gloucester. Friday, Yarmouth is home against Fryeburg. Monday, the Clippers are at Falmouth.

Greely (which is first in Western B) hosted Freeport Wednesday (too late for print), is at Poland Friday and is home against Western C contender St. Dom’s on Monday.

The Rangers host the Clippers in a rematch May 29.

“They’re all big,” Soule said. “Freeport’s found themselves and won a couple games. Then we have Falmouth again, Cape, St. Dom’s. That’s good. We’ll get ready for the playoffs and see a lot of good pitching.”

“Yarmouth’s one of the top teams,” Hart added. “We feel pretty good. We need to tighten our defense. We have a lot of room for improvement.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]

Greely@Yarmouth-10.jpgYarmouth’s Ethan Gray stole second while Greely sophomore Matt Labbe took the throw during the third inning of the Rangers’ 8-7 win Tuesday afternoon. (Jason Veilleux photo)