BOX SCORE 

Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

G- 000 000 2- 2 3 1
Y- 000 000 0- 0 4 2

Bottom 7th
Kelso flew out to center, Williams scored. Cook scored on error.

Multiple hits:
G- Williams

Runs:
G- Cook, Williams

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RBI:
G- Kelso

Double:
G- Williams

Stolen bases:
G- Williams 2, Johnston, Soucie

Left on base:
G- 4
Y- 4

Johnston and Kolben; Hickey, Sullivan (7) and Bradford.

G:
Johnston (W, 6-0) 7 IP 4 H 0 R 1 BB 14 K

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Y:
Hickey (L, 3-1) 6.1 IP 3 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 8 K 1 WP
Sullivan 0.2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 BB 2 K

Time: 1:50

YARMOUTH—This one had it all.

Dominant pitching, two rivals battling for seven innings and even some fog to spice up the ambiance.

And ultimately, a game of inches was decided on a bounce that proved to be fortuitous for the visiting Greely Rangers and disheartening for host Yarmouth.

Greely senior left-handed ace Zach Johnston and Clippers junior starter Liam Hickey engaged in the most impressive pitcher’s duel of the season so far, matching zeroes, striking out opposing hitters and escaping the occasional jam.

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As a result, the game remained scoreless until the top of the seventh inning, when Rangers senior designated hitter Brooks Williams grounded the ball off the third base bag for a double and he’d score the first run on a sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Mason Kelso. Greely tacked on another run on an error and in the bottom half, Johnston slammed the door and closed out a most-entertaining 2-0 victory.

The Rangers avenged their only loss of the season, improved to 11-1 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 7-4.

“It was a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel,” longtime Greely coach Derek Soule said. “Both of them were outstanding. I found myself at times just standing back and enjoying both teams compete. Obviously, the pitchers were the center of the game, but it just was a fun game to be a part of.”

A different story

Two weeks ago, Greely was flying high and looking unbeatable when Yarmouth came to Twin Brook Recreation Center and humbled the Rangers, 7-2, as Hickey shut down Greely’s bats and senior Matt Waeldner ripped a two-run double, while sophomore David Swift had a two-run single.

But before and after that game, the Rangers have been unstoppable.

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Greely started with a 10-0 home win over Fryeburg Academy. After an 8-2 victory at Brunswick, which was Soule’s 300th, came an 18-0 (five-inning) win at Wells. After beating visiting Poland (6-1), the Rangers enjoyed a 13-0 (six-inning) triumph at Gray-New Gloucester, then shut down visiting Edward Little, 10-0, in five-innings.

Following the loss to Yarmouth, Greely won at Cape Elizabeth (10-3), beat host Lake Region (12-2, in five-innings), edged visiting York (4-3) and Friday, blanked visiting Cape Elizabeth (11-0, in five-innings), behind a no-hitter from senior Ryan Kolben.

Yarmouth, meanwhile, opened with a 9-0 home loss to Oxford Hills, but responded with a 6-1 home win over Mt. Ararat and a 15-0 (five-inning) victory at Lake Region, as Hickey threw a no-hitter. After losing at home to reigning Class B South champion Freeport (5-2), the Clippers beat host Fryeburg Academy (3-0), upset host Greely (7-2) and after dropping a close one at York (5-4), they downed visiting Poland (3-1) and won at Gray-New Gloucester (12-0, in five-innings) and at Wells (19-1, in five-innings).

Greely had gone 14-3-1 in the teams’ last 18 meetings (see sidebar, below) and Monday, found a way to win again, but Yarmouth yet again gave the Rangers all they could ask for.

Yarmouth junior pitcher Liam Hickey throws a strike to Greely senior Max Cloutier to begin Monday’s contest. Hoffer photos.

As he did in the teams’ first meeting, Hickey flustered the Rangers at the start of the game, striking out senior shortstop Max Cloutier on a foul tip, getting sophomore third baseman Marky Axelsen to ground out to third, then fanning Kolben, the catcher.

In the bottom half, Johnston reminded everyone why he’s Division I college-bound (Wake Forest University), fanning senior leftfielder Matt Robichaud, sophomore shortstop Andrew Cheever and senior first baseman Gibby Sullivan with near 90 mile-per-hour heat.

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Williams worked the count full leading off the top of the second, then drew a walk. Hickey then fanned Johnston, with Williams stealing second on the play. Kelso then looked at strike three before freshman second baseman Wyatt Soucie lined out to left to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Johnston struck out senior third baseman Jack McCosh swinging, caught Swift, the designated hitter, looking at strike and fanned senior rightfielder Quin O’Meara.

After Hickey got sophomore rightfielder Sam Almy to pop to third leading off the top of the third, sophomore centerfielder Jackson Leding lined a single between first and second, but Hickey quickly erased him with a pickoff throw. Cloutier then flew out to right to retire the side.

In the bottom of the third, sophomore catcher Sam Bradford led off with a single to right-center and moved to second when Waeldner, the centerfielder, laid down a sacrifice bunt on an 0-2 pitch. When Johnston threw wildly on a pickoff attempt, Bradford was able to take third, but with sophomore  second baseman Matt Gautreau at the plate, Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted rolled the dice and called for a squeeze bunt on an 0-2 pitch, but Gautreau couldn’t make contact and Kolben threw to Axelsen, who tagged out Bradford for a double play to end the threat.

“I wasn’t really expecting a bunt with two strikes, but I know with the lower part of their lineup, they could bunt whenever, so I just elevated the fastball and hoped for a pop-up or a miss,” Johnston said. “I’m glad we got out it.”

“Yarmouth’s infamous for those kind of plays, so you have to expect the unexpected,” said Williams.

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Greely had a great chance to break the ice in the top of the fourth, but Hickey escaped the jam.

After Axelsen grounded to short leading off, with Sullivan making a nice stab at first on the throw, Kolben popped up to short left and while Cheever got to the ball, he dropped it and the error allowed Kolben to stand at second. Williams then checked his swing and hit a slow roller to short for an infield hit, moving Kolben to third. After Williams stole second, Hickey reared back and threw strike three past Johnston, then Kelso hit a fly ball to shallow right, which O’Meara raced in and caught to keep the game scoreless.

“We missed a few opportunities today,” said Soule. “Just last week, I complimented our team on how well we did situational hitting, but today we missed them.”

Greely senior Zach Johnston delivers to Yarmouth senior Matt Robichaud, who flies out.

In the bottom half, Robichaud flew out to left and after Cheever worked the count full, he watched strike three. Sullivan followed by going the other way and singling to right, but on a 3-2 pitch, Johnston fanned McCosh.

Hickey returned to his dominant ways in the top of the fifth, fanning Soucie on a high fastball and after somehow making a play on a ball Almy lined right back off his body to throw him out, Hickey struck out Leding swinging as well.

Swift led off the bottom half by beating out a slow grounder to deep short for an infield single, but he couldn’t advance, as junior Stevie Walsh hit for O’Meara and chased strike three, Bradford flew out to deep center and Waeldner grounded out to Cloutier unassisted.

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Greely brought up the top of the order in the top of the sixth, but Hickey got Cloutier to line out to Waeldner in center with the first pitch, Cheever went back to catch a pop-up off the bat of Axelsen and Kolben struck out on a high fastball.

In the bottom half, Johnston struck out Gautreau, Robichaud fouled out to Axelsen and after Cheever drew a walk, Johnston fell behind Sullivan 3-1, threw a strike, then struck him out to send the game to the fateful top of the seventh.

Where the Rangers finally broke through.

Williams led off and grounded the ball down the third base line. He likely would have reached with an infield single regardless, but in a stroke of fortune for Williams and his team, the ball deflected off the third base bag and past McCosh, down the line for a double.

“I never think I’m going to be out,” Williams said. “I knew I had to run hard, so I couldn’t see. I just picked up my coaches.”

“The third baseman was playing deep and it was going to be a single either way because Brooks would beat that out easily, but it clipped the bag,” Soule said.

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Hickey then threw a wild pitch and just like that, the go-ahead run was at third. Johnston then drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and stole second, bringing up Kelso. Kelso followed with a fly ball to medium center, which Waeldner caught, but the speedy Williams beat the throw home for the game’s first run.

Greely junior first baseman Mason Kelso launches a sacrifice fly to center.

Bringing home senior designated hitter Brooks Williams with the game’s first run.

“No way I would be denied,” Williams said. “I knew I’d make it. I just had to get there and score the run.”

“I knew the offense would pick me up,” Johnston said. “It’s always a little hairy when you can’t score for six innings, but I had faith someone would pick us up.”

“Mason’s really been heating up lately,” Soule added. “I was happy to see that. I felt very confident that he had a good chance to deliver.”

That proved to be it for Hickey, who was replaced on the mound by Sullivan.

Senior Owen Cook ran for Johnston at second and he’d come home and score when Soucie’s ground ball up the middle bounced off Gautreau’s glove for an error. Sullivan caught both Almy and junior pinch-hitter Cam Irish looking at strike three, but the damage was done.

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Johnston then took the mound to close it out and after giving up a leadoff single to center off the bat of McCosh, he struck out both Swift and O’Meara, then got Bradford to ground up the middle to Cloutier, who stepped on second and that brought the curtain down on Greely’s 2-0 victory.

Greely senior catcher Ryan Kolben hugs winning pitcher Zach Johnson as their teammates join in the postgame celebration.

“We had a lot of energy coming into today and we needed it,” Williams said. “We knew we had it in us. It’s fun to play on a day like today. We had revenge on our minds. We have a lot of vengeance in us and we wanted to put it out in the field and we did that today.”

“We definitely needed a game like this,” Johnston said. “It was super-fun to have to go out there every inning and battle. Whenever we lose a game, we always want to get back at them the next game.”

“I thought one team was going to cash in on an opportunity and it would be a 1-0 or a 2-0 game,” Soule added. “Yarmouth’s very good and Hickey has been really good against us, but he’s been really good against everybody.”

Johnston earned his sixth win of the spring , with no losses, throwing a four-hit shutout, walking just one and striking out 14.

“I just knew Yarmouth beat us on our home field and today, I was extra into it and you could see it,” Johnston said. “I absolutely wanted to finish the game. Today, everything was good straight from warmups. All my pitches were working.”

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“Zach is just an excellent pitcher,” Williams said. “He’s always composed and that carries over to everyone else. He’s a leader on this team.”

Offensively, Williams had two hits, stole two bases and scored a run. Cook also touched home plate and Kelso had the game’s lone RBI.

Greely stranded four base-runners.

Rematch desired

For Yarmouth, Hickey was the hard-luck loser, falling to 3-1 after giving up two runs (just one earned) on three hits in 6.1 innings. Hickey walked two and struck out eight.

“I was just throwing pitches,” Hickey said. “My curveball was spinning pretty well and I was just trying to locate my fastball. I was feeling good. I was motivated to pitch for my team and they were trying to hit for me.”

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“It’s such an overused term, but Liam’s just tougher than most,” Halsted said. “He’s just not afraid to take on future college baseball players. He has zero fear and he wants to be on the mound and he’s upset with me when I take him out and I love that about him.”

Sullivan pitched a perfect 0.2 innings of relief with two Ks.

Yarmouth has played Greely as tough as anyone this year and that should breed confidence going forward.

“Zach’s probably one of the best pitchers anyone on the team has ever seen and we fought hard and didn’t back down,” Hickey said. “Coach kept saying, ‘Stare down the beast’ and we tried to do that today. We didn’t get a win, but the loss taught us more than a win would have anyway.”

“We just made a couple more mistakes than they did,” Halsted said. “It was a fun game. It was competitive. Our kids respect their kids. It was a good high school sporting event.

“The most important thing with kids is you cannot be afraid to stare down the beast. When you face a good team like Greely, with a Division I pitcher, a Division I catcher, a Division I shortstop and probably a Division I third baseman, if you’re excited, that’s half the battle.”

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Final push

Yarmouth won’t have long to lick its wounds, as the Clippers host Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday, then visit Poland Friday before going to Freeport Monday of next week.

“We have to get back to practice tomorrow and focus on the next game,” Hickey said.

“We have five games left,” Halsted said. “It gets late early out here. We put 35 runs on the board last week, so we know what we’re capable of offensively. When the bats are hot, we’re a fun team to watch.”

Greely will host Freeport Wednesday in rematch of last year’s Class B South Final, won by the Falcons.

“I can’t wait to play Freeport Wednesday,” Johnston said. “It’s going to be a great game between two rivals. Our team chemistry is great. This is one of the best teams I think we’ve had in years. Everyone works really well together and I like our chances.”

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“We’re looking forward to that game,” Williams said. “Our senior class has a lot of experience with Freeport. We really want to give it to those guys. We’re looking forward to it. There’s pressure this year, but there’s pressure in everything. Without pressure, it’s hard to find that inner motivation. We know we’re good, so we just try to work as a team.”

“You can’t help but think about the regional championship game last year when you see Freeport on the schedule,” Soule added. “We’ll see how the pitching lines up. We have a lot of options.”

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

Recent Greely-Yarmouth meetings

2022
Yarmouth 7 @ Greely 2

2021
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 12 Greely 8
Greely 13 @ Yarmouth 3

2019
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 1
@Greely 6 Yarmouth 5

2018
@ Greely 13 Yarmouth 2 (5)
@ Yarmouth 3 Greely 2

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2017
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 1

2016
Greely 4 Yarmouth 4 (9-inning tie)
Class B South quarterfinal
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

2015
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 2
Western B quarterfinal
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 3 (9)

2014
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
Western B quarterfinal
@ Greely 4 Yarmouth 0

2013
Greely 10 @ Yarmouth 7 (8)
@ Greely 1 Yarmouth 0

2012
Greely 3 Yarmouth 1 (@ OOB)
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 3

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2011
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
@ Yarmouth 6 Greely 5
Western B Final
Greely 7 Yarmouth 5

2010
Yarmouth 5 @ Greely 4
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 2

2009
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 7
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5

2008
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 3
Western B quarterfinals
Yarmouth 9 @ Greely 2

2007
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 4
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

2006
@ Greely 9 Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 2 (6)

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2005
@ Greely 8 Yarmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1

2004
Greely 9 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 8 Yarmouth 0

2003
@ Greely 6 Yarmouth 5
Greely 4 @ Yarmouth 3

2002
@ Greely 11 Yarmouth 11 (tie)
Western B preliminary round
Yarmouth 8 @ Greely 5 (8)

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