AJ Wolverton of Brunswick gets ready to swing at a pitch during a game against Yarmouth on Tuesday in Brunswick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — Championship aspirations once again are a reality for high school spring sports teams after the pandemic shuttered the 2020 season.

The Yarmouth baseball team is one of those teams that has lofty goals. 

The Clippers took the first step with a 4-3 victory over Brunswick on Tuesday, behind a masterful pitching performance from senior ace Jake Gautreau.

“The plan was to execute first pitch strikes to get ahead and stay ahead, it all came together out there today (Tuesday),” said Gautreau, who allowed just three hits in six shutout innings. “I adjusted during the game and started pitching to contact, the boys in the field took care of the rest.”

Gautreau figures to be one of the better pitchers in Class B South this season, after a standout sophomore campaign in which he had a 1.95 ERA. 

“We want to win and know we are capable of doing so,” said Gautreau. “The energy was great today from the guys, it gave me and the rest of us the boost that we all needed.”

Tanner Ropoza (2) and AJ Wolverton, center, of Brunswick watch as Will Cox and Gibby Sullivan, right, of Yarmouth celebrate after Cox scored a run Tuesday in Brunswick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

The Dragons scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but it too little and too late. 

“We just have to keep the energy up and get the bats going early,” said Brunswick starting pitcher Sam Masse. “We got them going late, now we just have to keep that momentum on offense rolling into our next game.”

Masse finished with five strikeouts and three runs allowed in five innings. 

The Dragons and Clippers squared off in a season opener that looked much different than previous ones. For example, the home plate umpire is now positioned behind the pitchers mound to call balls and strikes, instead of behind the catcher. 

“It’s tough for everyone, including the umpires,” said Gautreau. “Strike zones might be a little here and there, but if it means we get to play, the umpire can be in center field for all I care.”

Added Masse: “It’s a bit different, I’ve already noticed the outside corner is tending to be called less, but I know I’ll adjust accordingly.”

The Clippers jumped out to a lead in the second inning, while Gautreau continued to silence the Dragons bats. An RBI single from Max Brewer that scored Will Cox in the seventh inning proved to be the difference. 

The Dragons bats woke up in the final inning. After a leadoff walk, Henry Burnham tripled to right to bring in a run.  Quin McCaffrey then walked and Wes Cooper singled to center to plate Burnham. After a strikeout for the second out, Jack Nussbaum singled to center to score Alex Thompson, who ran for McCaffrey. However, the comeback fell just short when AJ Wolverton flew out to right field. 

“We had a lot of momentum at the end; it was good to see our guys show resilience till the final out,” said Brunswick head coach Craig Rogers. 

Max Brewer of Yarmouth starts his swing during a game against Brunswick on Tuesday in Brunswick. Umpires calling balls and strikes are positioned behind the pitcher’s mound this season to allow for social distancing. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Will Dickinson pitched the seventh for the Clippers to earn the save. 

“We showed our toughness and our talent today,” said Yarmouth first basemen Gibby Sullivan, who reached base twice, including an RBI single in the third inning. “Keeping that same approach for us is key. Don’t chase, wait for your pitch, and good things will happen. We all did that today, and good things did happen.”

Will Cox paced the Clippers with two hits and a stolen base, while Gautreau reached base three times. 

Brewer, Sullivan, Will Dickinson and Jack McCosh all drove in runs for the Clippers. 

“We’ve had a lot of scrimmages and intrasquad games, but nothing beats the feeling of winning a game that counts,” said Sullivan. “I hope the boys relish this feeling, it’s been too long since we last felt it, and I know we want to do the same thing again next time out.”

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