Falmouth junior catcher Ike Kiely, right, is congratulated by senior first baseman Sam Manganello after hitting a go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh inning Friday. The run held up and the seventh-seeded Yachtsmen upset No. 2 Thornton Academy, 5-4, in a Class A South quarterfinal.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.


Class A South quarterfinal

Falmouth 5 Thornton Academy 4

F- 002 020 1- 5 6 0
TA- 003 010 0- 4 10 3

Top 3rd
Ford scored on error. G. Tracy flew out to right, Kidder scored.

Bottom 3rd
Christoforo singled to center, Seymour scored. Cross tripled to right, Smith and Christoforo scored.

Top 5th
Kiely reached on infield single, Kidder scored. Manganello singled to right, Kiely scored. 

Bottom 5th
Pydych singled to center, Smith scored.

Top 7th
Kiely homered to left, Kiely scored.

Multiple hits:
F- Kidder, Kiely
TA- Chessie, Christoforo, Cross

F- Kidder, Kiely 2, Ford
TA- Smith 2, Christoforo, Seymour

F- Kiely 2, Manganello, G. Tracy
TA- Cross 2, Christoforo, Pydych

TA- Seymour, Smith

TA- Cross

Home run:
F- Kiely (4)

Stolen bases:
F- Kidder, Kiely 2, Ford

Left on base:
F- 5
TA- 7 

Smith, D. Tracy (6) and Kiely; Chessie, Bowker (6) and Seymour.

Smith 5 IP 10 H 4 R 4 ER 1 BB 2 K
D. Tracy (W, 1-1) 2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 1 K 

Chessie 5 IP 4 H 4 R 2 ER 5 BB 5 K
Bowker (L, 2-1) 2 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 2 K 

Time: 1:51

SACO—The moment called for a hero.

And Ike Kiely was happy to enter his name into lore.

Falmouth and Thornton Academy’s baseball teams engaged in a Class A South quarterfinal round thriller Friday afternoon.

A game which featured twists and turns, lead changes and momentum swings.

And this instant classic was ultimately decided by one swing.

Courtesy Ike Kiely.

The seventh-seeded Yachtsmen took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning against Golden Trojans senior ace Luke Chessie, scoring one run on a throwing error and another on a sacrifice fly from senior rightfielder Garrett Tracy.

Second-ranked Thornton Academy answered back in the bottom half of the frame against Falmouth freshman starter Bennett Smith, riding some two-out magic, as senior designated hitter Calvin Christoforo hit an RBI single and senior rightfielder Cameron Cross crushed a two-run triple.

The Yachtsmen went back on top in the top of the fifth, as Kiely, Falmouth’s junior catcher, lined a shot that Golden Trojans junior third baseman Joe Reny couldn’t handle and senior first baseman Sam Manganello added an RBI single.

Again, Thornton Academy responded in the bottom half, drawing even at 4-4 on a two-out single from senior first baseman Toby Pydych.

After freshmen reliever Dom Tracy held the Golden Trojans at bay in the bottom of the sixth, Falmouth got the run it needed in the top of the seventh, as with two outs and no one on, Kiely crushed a home run to left.

This time, Thornton Academy couldn’t answer, as Tracy slammed the door and for the second year in a row, the Yachtsmen had a seismic quarterfinal round upset, as they prevailed, 5-4.

Falmouth improved to 11-7, ended the Golden Trojans’ campaign at 14-3 and advanced to visit No. 3 Scarborough (13-4) in the Class A South semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m. 

“People keep underestimating us,” Kiely said. “We have a great group of guys and great coaches. No one believes that we can do it but us. We’re happy to be out here, having fun, playing baseball and winning games.” 

Down to the wire

Friday marked the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams and just the third all-time since Falmouth joined the Southwestern Maine Activities Association in 2018.

This spring, Thornton Academy has set the pace as one of the league’s elite teams, while Falmouth has hung tough.

The Yachtsmen started with a 2-0 loss at Portland, then dropped a 9-4 home decision to Windham and lost, 2-0, at South Portland, before getting in the win column at Massabesic, 10-0, in six-innings. Falmouth followed that up by edging visiting Deering (2-1), downing host Marshwood (7-3) and outlasting visiting Gorham in 12-innings, 2-1. After letting a late lead slip away in an 8-3, eight-inning home loss to Scarborough, the Yachtsmen bounced back and downed host Westbrook (13-6) and Biddeford (8-0). Falmouth lost, 8-7, at Cheverus, then downed visiting Bonny Eagle (3-1) and Sanford (15-0, in five-innings, behind Garrett Tracy’s no-hitter). After falling at home to Thornton Academy, 3-2, and Noble (8-2), the Yachtsmen closed with a 2-0 win at Kennebunk.

Falmouth then blanked 10th-ranked Gorham, 4-0, in Tuesday’s preliminary round.

Thornton Academy won its first three outings, 5-2 at Gorham, 7-4 at home over Marshwood and 4-1 at Noble before falling at home, 1-0, to Kennebunk. After a 4-2 win at Portland, the Golden Trojans defeated visiting Deering (5-3) and edged visiting Cheverus (9-8) before falling at South Portland, 11-1. Thornton Academy then downed visiting Bonny Eagle (10-8), host Massabesic (14-4), visiting Westbrook (6-4), visiting Scarborough (5-4), host Sanford (13-3), host Windham (4-2) visiting Biddeford (8-5) and host Falmouth (3-2) in the finale.

The teams were scheduled to play Thursday, but rain Wednesday night left Thornton Academy’s field unplayable, moving the contest to Friday afternoon, where Mother Nature was most kind to both teams and the fans on hand, producing a 72 degree afternoon.

And as pleasant as the weather was, the game was even better.

Sophomore centerfielder Sam Kidder drew a walk from Chessie leading off, but junior shortstop Connor Coffin popped up a bunt to Reny at third and after Kidder stole second, Kiely flew out to left and Garrett Tracy chased strike three.

Chessie led off the bottom half with a single to left off Smith, but the freshman bounced back and got freshman centerfielder Cody Bowker to line out to short, senior catcher Cam Seymour to ground into a second-to-short force out and senior shortstop Tim Smith to line out to right on a 3-2 pitch.

Falmouth went quietly in the top of the second, as Manganello struck out, junior designated hitter Jackson Quinn bounced out to short and junior third baseman Josh Lefevre grounded out to third.

Christoforo led off the bottom half by grounding a single past Lefevre into left and Cross followed by beating out a bunt down the third base line. Smith bore down, however, and got Pydych to pop out to short, junior leftfielder Ryan Penney to watch strike three and junior second baseman Christopher Balzano to ground out to Coffin at short for the final out. 

The Yachtsmen then got the scoring going in the top of third.

Freshman second baseman Brady Coyne led off with a grounder down the first base line which Pydych slid to snare before touching first for the out. Sophomore leftfielder Gus Ford then walked and stole second and Kidder walked as well. With Coffin at the plate, each runner took off and stole their respective base and when Seymour’s throw to third was high and rolled into leftfield, Ford raced home with the game’s first run. Coffin then walked and Kiely did as well to load the bases and Garrett Tracy followed with a line drive to right for an out, but Kidder came home on the sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead and Coffin went to third. Kiely stole second, but Manganello couldn’t break the game open, watching strike three.

Thornton Academy answered, thanks to a two-out rally, in the bottom half.

Smith got Chessie to fly out deep to center on the first pitch, then induced a fly ball to right off the bat of Bowker. Seymour got the rally going with a drive over the head of Kidder in center for a double. Smith walked and Christoforo followed with a ground ball single up the middle to score Seymour. That set the stage for Cross, who launched a drive to deep right that Tracy couldn’t quite catch up to in front of the fence and the triple scored a pair to put the Golden Trojans on top. Pydych flew out to center, but the lead had changed hands.

Quinn led off the top of the fourth with an infield single up the middle for the Yachtsmen’s first hit, but after he took second on a ground out to third off the bat of Lefevre, Coyne watched strike three and Ford did the same.

In the bottom half, Smith caught Penney looking at strike three, then got Balzano to ground back to the mound. Chessie kept the inning going with a single to center and Bowker singled to center as well, but Seymour flew out to left, where Ford juggled the ball before catching it to retire the side.

Falmouth then regained the lead in the top of the fifth.

Kidder singled to left leading off, then stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Coffin. Kiely then hit a sharp grounder at Reny which bounced off the third baseman, allowing Kiely to reach and Kidder to cross the plate to tie the score. After Kiely stole second, Garrett Tracy grounded to Balzano, who bobbled the ball for an error and the Yachtsmen had runners at the corners. Manganello, after failing to lay down a squeeze bunt, then hit a rocket which skidded past Balzano at second and Kiely came home for a 4-3 lead. On the play, Bowker couldn’t handle the ball cleanly and Falmouth had runners at second and third, but Quinn popped out to second and Manganello was doubled off second to end the inning.

Smith led off the bottom of the frame with a double to left and after Christoforo lined out to center and Cross flew out to deep center, Pydych came up big in the clutch, singling up the middle to score Smith to tie the game at 4-4. Penney bid for a hit as well, but Lefevre went back and while falling, caught the pop up to preserve the tie and send the game to the sixth inning.

Bowker replaced Chessie to start the frame, with Chessie moving to second.

Bowker then set Falmouth down in order, getting Lefevre to line out to right, Coyne to chase strike three and Ford to chase strike three as well.

Dom Tracy replaced Smith in the bottom half and he also produced a 1-2-3 inning, getting Balzano to fly out to left, Chessie to fly out to right and Bowker to fly out to right.

And that set the stage for the fateful top of the seventh.

Kidder appeared to spark a rally when he led off with a single up the middle, but when he tried to steal second, Seymour threw him out.

“We took a chance because Seymour hadn’t thrown anyone out all game,” Falmouth coach Kevin Winship said. “He made a good play.”

Coffin then hit the ball hard, but it was right at Penney in left for the second out.

And up came Kiely.

Kiely took a ball, then turned on a Bowker fastball and crushed it deep to left. Penney went back, but could only watch as the ball sailed over the fence and the Yachtsmen had the lead.

“That was pretty exciting,” Kiely said. “I knew when Sam got thrown out and Connor made an out that I had to do something big to get us going again. I got an inside fastball. I didn’t know it was gone until I was rounding second base and I heard my teammates yell. Luckily, it kept going and went over the fence. It’s a dream come true. What a feeling! I love these guys, so it was fun to celebrate with my teammates.”

“Ike bailed me out,” Winship said. “I felt good with him up. He’s our clutch guy. He’s such a game-changer for us, whether it’s behind the plate where people can’t run on him, or at the plate, like he showed today with the home run to win it for us. He’s a tremendous hitter and he’s a great kid who works hard.”

Garrett Tracy lined out to right for the third out, but Falmouth was on the brink.

And Dom Tracy went out and slammed the door in the bottom half.

Seymour led off and grounded out to second.

Smith was next and he bounced out to third.

That brought up Christoforo as Thornton Academy’s last hope, but Tracy got him to chase strike three and the Yachtsmen celebrated their 5-4 victory.

“It was absolutely euphoria,” Kiely said. “I knew Dom could get him out one way or another, but to have it as strike three as extra special.”

“This is up there as a top win for me,” said Winship. “It’s a great win for the kids. In 2016 and 2017, we were the 1 seed and there’s a ton of pressure. I told the kids there’s no pressure on us as the No. 7 seed. There were just 18 guys who thought we’d win and I told them to have fun and play. We got hits when we needed them and we made the plays.”

Kidder and Kiely paced the Falmouth offense with two hits, two runs and two stolen bases apiece. 

Ford also scored a run and stole a base.

Kiely had two RBI, while Manganello and Garrett Tracy each had one.

The Yachtsmen stranded five base runners.

Smith didn’t earn a decision, giving up four earned runs on 10 hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out two.

Dom Tracy evened his record at 1-1 after two flawless innings. He fanned one.

“Dom started on JV this year and came up when we needed pitchers,” said Kiely. “He has a great curveball and no one can really hit him. He pitched a great two innings and hats off to Bennett too, he kept us close.”

“We pitched two freshmen who came out and pitched their tails off,” said Winship. “They had an unbelievable effort. (Pitching coach) Dan Stephinillo called a great game today, kept (Thornton) off-balance.”

Thornton Academy got multiple hits from Chessie, Christoforo and Cross.

Smith scored two runs, while Christoforo and Seymour each touched home once.

Cross had two RBI, while Christoforo and Pydych had one apiece.

The Golden Trojans left seven runners on.

Chessie didn’t get a decision, giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits in five innings. He walked five and fanned five.

Bowker fell to 2-1 after giving up a run on two hits in two innings of relief. Bowker didn’t walk a batter and struck out two.

Red Storm brewing

Scarborough rallied to beat Falmouth, 8-3, in eight-innings May 17 in Falmouth, after the Red Storm tied it up in the seventh inning. The teams met just once prior in the playoffs, a 9-2 Yachtsmen victory in the 2017 Class A South quarterfinals.

Falmouth will likely start Garrett Tracy and looks to keep its roll going.

“Scarborough is a great team, really well-coached,” said Kiely. “They have solid players and they can hit. We have to come out and be ready because they’ll take advantage of our mistakes. We’re sky-high right now, but we know we still have a job to do. Anyone can beat anyone on a given day.”

“It was a good game the first time,” said Winship. “I’m sure we’ll see Nick Thompson, their number one, as it should be.

“It’s going to be a good day.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Falmouth freshman starting pitcher Bennett Smith throws a strike.

Falmouth sophomore Gus Ford steals second as Thornton Academy second baseman Christopher Balzano takes the throw.

Falmouth sophomore Gus Ford slides home with the Yachtsmen’s first run.

Falmouth junior Jackson Quinn (29) and sophomore Sam Kidder (15) congratulate freshman Dom Tracy at the conclusion of the game.