BOX SCORE 

Greely 10 Cape Elizabeth 3

G- 301 220 2- 10 13 1
CE- 000 000 3- 3 6 0

Top 1st
Kolben doubled to left, Axelsen scored. Almy grounded out, Kolben scored. Williams scored on passed ball.

Top 3rd
Johnston grounded out, Kolben scored.

Top 4th
Kolben homered to center, Axelsen and Kolben scored.

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Top 5th
Leding doubled to left, Sheff scored. Axelsen singled to left, Leding scored.

Top 7th
Kolben doubled to right, Simpson and Axelsen scored.

Bottom 7th
Harmon walked, Bryant scored. Smith singled to right, Dell’Aquila scored. Brooking scored on double play ground ball.

Multiple hits:
G- Kolben 4, Axelsen, Williams 3
CE- Harmon, Smith

Runs:
G- Axelsen, Kolben 3, Leding, Sheff, Simpson, Williams
CE- Brooking, Bryant, Dell’Aquila

RBI:
G- Kolben 5, Almy, Axelsen, Johnston, Leding
CE- Harmon, Smith

Doubles:
G- Kolben 2, Leding

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Home run:
G- Kolben

Stolen bases:
G- Sheff, Williams

Left on base:
G-9
CE- 8

Johnston, Axelsen (6), Almy (7) and Kolben; Smith, Bischoff (4), Bryant (5) and Song.

G:
Johnston (W, 4-0) 5 IP 4 H 0 R 2 BB 9 K
Axelsen 1 IP 0 H 0 R 1 BB 1 K
Almy 1 IP 2 H 3 R 1 ER 2 BB 0 K

CE:
Smith (L, 1-1) 3 IP 5 H 4 R 4 ER 3 BB 2 K 2 HBP 1 WP
Bischoff 1 IP 3 H 2 R 2 ER 1 BB 0 K
Bryant 3 IP 5 H 2 R 2 ER 2 BB 1 K 1 WP

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Time: 1:59

CAPE ELIZABETH—Greely’s powerhouse baseball team learned earlier this week that it isn’t invincible.

So, the Rangers responded by reminding everyone that they don’t like losing very much.

And in the process, delivered the warning that it might not happen again.

Four days after being knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by rival Yarmouth, Greely paid a visit to another longtime foe, Cape Elizabeth, Friday afternoon at Holman Field and got back in the win column.

With a flourish.

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Senior catcher Ryan Kolben hinted at a huge day to come with an RBI double in the top of the first and two more runs came home via a ground ball and passed ball, meaning that by the time senior ace Zach Johnston took the mound, he had a three-run cushion.

Johnston kept the Capers off the scoreboard early and the Rangers soon poured it on, as Kolben walked and scored on Johnston’s ground ball in the third, then Kolben crushed a two-run homer to center in the fourth to make it 6-0.

And Greely wasn’t done.

Sophomore centerfielder Jackson Leding doubled in a run and sophomore third baseman Marky Axelsen singled in another in the fifth, then Kolben capped his four-hit, five-RBI afternoon with a two-run double in the seventh.

To its credit, Cape Elizabeth scrapped back for three runs in the bottom half before the Rangers put the finishing touches on their 10-3 victory.

Greely improved to 7-1 at the midway point of the season and in the process, dropped the Capers to 3-4.

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“I think it’s really good to lose a game in the sense that it was a good example that we’re certainly capable of being beaten by anyone in this league if we don’t come to play, “said longtime Rangers coach Derek Soule.

An unfamiliar feeling

Greely steamrolled through its first six games, outscoring the opposition, 65-3.

Johnston, the Wake Forest University-bound standout, threw a five-inning no-hitter, with 11 strikeouts, to open the season with a 10-0 home win over Fryeburg Academy. Kolben, who will play next year at the University of Massachusetts, then fanned 17 in an 8-2 victory at Brunswick, which was Soule’s 300th, Next up was an 18-0 (five-inning) win at Wells, in which Johnston threw a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts and also launched a home run. After beating visiting Poland (6-1), Kolben returned to the hill and threw a one-hitter with 14 Ks in a 13-0 (six-inning) triumph at Gray-New Gloucester and last Friday, Johnston beat visiting Edward Little, 10-0, in five-innings.

Monday, however, the Rangers lost at home to Yarmouth, 7-2.

As for Cape Elizabeth, it opened with home wins over Brunswick (6-4) and York (5-4), then lost at Fryeburg Academy (4-3) and Freeport (1-0). After blanking visiting Gray-New Gloucester (7-0) on a no-hitter from junior Curtis Sullivan, the Capers lost Thursday at Mt. Ararat, 4-0.

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Last spring, the teams played three times, with the Capers prevailing in Cumberland, 6-0, and Greely sweeping a doubleheader in Cape Elizabeth, 8-0 and 13-0 (in five-innings).

Friday, on a day which featured temperatures in the mid-50s, the Rangers made quick work of the Capers to make it three straight and take a 25-21 advantage in the series over the past 20 seasons.

Senior Colin Smith got the start for Cape Elizabeth and he got senior shortstop Max Cloutier, who will play next year at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, to line out to center leading off, but Axelsen singled up the middle and Kolben drove the ball to deep leftfield for a double which brought home Axelsen to open the scoring. Senior designated hitter Brooks Williams beat out an infield single on a slow roller to third, putting runners at the corners and sophomore rightfielder Sam Almy followed with a slow roller to short which resulted in an out at first, but Kolben scored and Williams raced all the way to third on the play. That loomed large when, with Johnston at the plate, a pitch got away from sophomore catcher Charles Song for a passed ball, allowing Williams to score. Johnston drew a walk and junior first baseman Mason Kelso was plunked by a pitch before Smith avoided further damage by getting senior second baseman Liam Sheff to fly to center.

Johnston started the bottom of the inning by getting freshman second baseman Brady Inman to chase strike three. He then walked sophomore shortstop Gabe Harmon on a 3-2 pitch, but got Smith to ground into a third-to-second force out before striking out Song swinging.

“It’s great to pitch with a lead,” Johnston said. “It gives me a little cushion. I love to see that.”

Leding bid for a hit leading off the second, but senior rightfielder Hayden Webber ran the ball down for the first out. After Cloutier singled to left, he was caught stealing and Axelsen struck out to retire the side.

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The Capers then put a couple runners on in the bottom half, as after Johnston caught junior first baseman Owen Tighe looking at strike three, senior first baseman Aidan Connolly singled up the middle on the first pitch he saw, then Webber drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Johnston fanned freshman third baseman Jameson Bryant on three pitches before getting junior centerfielder Antonio Dell’Aquila to ground back to the mound to end the threat.

The Rangers then added to their lead in the top of the third, as Kolben walked on four pitches leading off and he took second on a single to center by Williams and after both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Almy popped out to second, Johnston grounded out to second and on the play, Kolben came home and Williams took third. Kelso drew a walk, but Sheff struck out looking to keep the score 4-0.

Cape Elizabeth made some noise again in the bottom half, as after Inman grounded to third, Harmon singled between first and second and Smith lined a single into the hole between short and third, but Song watched strike three go by and Johnston caught Tighe looking at strike three as well.

Kolben then took center stage in the top of the fourth against new pitcher, junior Sam Bischoff.

Leding popped to third and Cloutier grounded out to second to start the frame, but Axelsen singled through the hole between short and third bringing up Kolben, who sat on a fastball and crushed it to dead center. Even though the wind was blowing in, the ball was hit so hard and so well, it had no trouble sailing over the fence for a two-run home run.

“I barreled it up and I just took a good hack,” Kolben said. “I was sitting fastball, anything in the zone. I didn’t want to let it go past me. It felt different and I could just tell it was going out. It felt great.”

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“That ball, I thought too bad, the wind’s going to hold it up, but I was surprised,” Soule said. “That was a very well-struck ball to hit it out here in centerfield with the wind blowing.”

Williams kept the inning going with a single to right and he stole second before Almy drew a walk, but Johnston lined out to left, where Connelly made a nice lunging catch to keep the score 6-0.

Johnston made quick work of the Capers in the bottom of the fourth, getting Connelly to ground back to the mound on the first pitch before fanning both Webber and Bryant.

Bryant came on to pitch in the fifth where Greely kept the offense coming.

After Kelso popped out to short, Sheff singled up the middle and stole second and Leding followed with a double to left to score Sheff. Cloutier flew out to right, where he was robbed by a nice diving catch, but Axelsen brought home Leding with a single to left. Kolben singled to right-center for his third hit, putting runners at the corners, but Williams’ sharp grounder up the middle was snagged by Inman with his backhand and he threw to first to retire the side.

Regardless, the Rangers led, 8-0, and Johnston protected that lead in his final inning of work.

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After striking out Dell’Aquila swinging, Johnston got Inman to ground out to third. Harmon followed with his second hit, a single up the middle on the first pitch, but Smith lined out to center.

Greely went quietly in the top of the sixth, as senior pinch-hitter Owen Cook grounded out to short, junior pinch-hitter Cam Irish bounced out to short and sophomore pinch-hitter Ethan Robeck grounded back to the mound.

In the bottom half, Axelsen came on to pitch and he got Song to ground to third and Tighe to chase strike three before Connelly walked on a 3-2 pitch. Axelsen ended the frame by getting Webber to ground back to the mound.

In the seventh, the Rangers added their final two runs.

Sophomore Ryder Simpson pinch-hit leading off and drew a walk. After junior pinch-hitter Tyler Piesik flew out to right, pinch-hitter Alex Gamache grounded out slowly to second, allowing Simpson to move up. Axelsen then drew a walk, bringing Kolben to the plate and again, Kolben delivered, this time going with a pitch the other way and lining it down the rightfield line for a double to score both Simpson and Axelsen to make it 10-0. Junior leftfielder Sam Carter then watched strike three to send the game to bottom of the seventh.

Where Almy put it away, but not before a few anxious moments.

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Bryant led off and grounded to second, but he reached on an error. Dell’Aquila then singled to left on the first pitch and sophomore pinch-hitter Alex Brooking drew a walk to load the bases. That brought up Harmon, who also walked, scoring Bryant with Cape Elizabeth’s first run and reloading the bases in the process. Smith was next and he grounded a seeing-eye single into rightfield to score Dell’Aquila and load the bases again. Freshman pinch-hitter Jimmy Hollowell was next and he grounded into a short-to-second-to-first double play, with Brooking scoring. Tighe then popped to second to end it and Greely had a 10-3 victory.

“We put Monday behind us,” said Kolben. “We had a great start to the season and that game told us if we don’t come to play, we can lose to any team. We came out here today and got back to what we do.”

“It was a nice bounce back,” said Soule. “I thought the pregame focus and the energy in general was better. The guys were ready to play from start to finish. We had three good days of practice. We don’t want to take anything for granted. Just a couple years ago we lost an entire season. Every one of these 16 regular season games is precious.

“We have a talented team, but that doesn’t really mean much, especially in baseball where things change in a flip of a switch. Pitching and defense are things you can do consistently. Monday, we didn’t play good defense and made quite a few errors. Today, we didn’t make one until the seventh inning.”

The Rangers finished with 13 hits, as Kolben had four and Axelsen and Williams each produced three.

Axelsen and Kolben also scored three times, while Leding, Sheff, Simpson and Williams all touched home once.

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Kolben had five RBI, while Almy, Axelsen, Johnston and Leding also drove in a run.

Greely stranded nine base runners.

Johnston earned his fourth win of the season (with a 0.00 earned run average so far) after pitching five shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out nine.

“I don’t really care how many hits I give up,” Johnston said. “As long as there’s a zero when I’m throwing then it’s fine with me. My fastball was definitely my best pitch today. My change-up was OK. My slider needed some work.”

“He looked good as always,” Kolben said. “He left a couple over the plate and they battled, but it was good to see him battle back.”

“Zach’s  a good student of the game,” Soule added. “He knows he has things he needs to do better to be effective at the next level. He’s working through some adjustments.”

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Axelsen pitched one hitless, scoreless inning of relief, walking one and striking out one.

Almy closed it out by giving up three runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks.

Cape Elizabeth got two hits apiece from Harmon and Smith. Brooking, Bryant and Dell’Aquila scored runs and Harmon and Smith had RBI.

The Capers left eight runners on.

Smith fell to 1-1 after giving up four earned runs on five hits in three innings. He walked three, fanned two, hit two and threw a wild pitch.

Bischoff gave up two earned runs on three hits in one inning of relief. He walked one.

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Bryant threw three innings of relief, giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two, struck out one and threw a wild pitch.

“I mean obviously, (Greely’s) a super ball club and they’re always going to be tough,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Glenn Reeves. “They can do it all. They can hit, they can pitch, they can play defense, they have a great catcher. It was going to take our ‘A’ game to beat them and unfortunately, today we didn’t have it.

“We had some good at-bats. We put the barrel on the ball and that breeds confidence. It’s always to show fight and it’s at least somewhat of a respectable score.”

Same time, next week

Cape Elizabeth will go to Greely next Friday, but both teams have a couple challenges to overcome first.

The Capers visit Wells Monday and go to Old Orchard Beach Wednesday.

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“It’s crazy how fast it’s going,” Reeves said. “Obviously, we want to win every game, but with an open tournament, we treat (the regular season) like a six-week spring training and the goal is to be healthy and firing on all cylinders for the playoffs. We’re learning every day. It’s like taking a test every day. We’ll correct our errors and hopefully be ready on June 1. It’s a great group of guys. They work hard.”

The Rangers travel to Lake Region Monday, then host York Wednesday. After welcoming the Capers, Greely gets a chance to avenge its lone loss when it visits Yarmouth May 16.

“We have great team chemistry,” said Kolben. “Everyone loves coming out to play. We couldn’t ask for a better start to the season.”

“We need to show up to practice every day with the mentality that we won’t stop until we get to the final game,” Johnston said. “If we don’t try to win every game, we can get surprised.”

“We need to continue to pitch and play good defense,” Soule added. “It’s unusual to have so many games so early. I just hope the weather starts getting better.”

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

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