CUMBERLAND—New Cape Elizabeth baseball coach Donny Dutton calls his team’s early success, “just 18 dudes trying to have a good time.”

A good time indeed.

The Capers have taken the field five times so far this spring and each time have emerged victorious, by any means necessary, and Friday afternoon at Twin Brook Recreation Center, they turned to a familiar recipe to hold off longtime rival Greely.

Strong pitching, flawless defense, a few big hits and making things good happen on the basepaths.

Cape Elizabeth squandered a golden opportunity in the top of the first inning, when it loaded the bases with none out but failed to score and when the Rangers pushed across two runs in the bottom half, on RBI singles from junior shortstop Marky Axelsen and junior leftfielder Ryder Simpson, it could have been a long afternoon.

But instead, the Capers immediately answered with three runs in the top of the second, taking advantage of a pair of Greely errors, while getting a key two-run double from hot-hitting junior shortstop Gabe Harmon and a go-ahead sacrifice fly from junior designated hitter Charles Song.


The Rangers drew even in the bottom of the third on a two-out RBI single from senior third baseman Cam Irish, but in the top of the fourth, Harmon scored on an error to put Cape Elizabeth back in front.

Senior ace Curtis Sullivan then relieved sophomore starter Jameson Bryant and did the rest, throwing four shutout innings and the Capers went on to a 4-3 victory.

Harmon had three hits, two RBI and a run scored as Cape Elizabeth improved to 5-0 on the season and in the process, dropped Greely to 4-3.

“I think it’s just a mindset that these guys want to be successful,” Dutton said. “Every day, 18 guys trying to make the best of it. We’re installing a system that puts everybody on the same page. Everyone knows their role.”

Playing with confidence

Greely wound up one painful run shy of the state final a year ago, losing, 2-1, to Freeport in the Class B South Final. In the previous round, the Rangers ended Cape Elizabeth’s season at 11-8 with a 2-0 triumph.


The Capers welcomed a new coach this spring in Dutton, a former assistant with the program, who played at Old Orchard Beach High School and Thomas College. He’s enjoyed the Midas Touch early, as Cape Elizabeth opened with a 7-1 home win over Old Orchard Beach, then downed host York (6-4), before beating visiting Fryeburg (7-4) and visiting Freeport (2-1) in its last game, a week ago.

The Rangers, conversely, have the region’s most veteran coaching staff and despite losing Division I talents Ryan Kolben and Zach Johnston, as well as other key contributors to graduation, are very much in the thick of contention again this season.

Greely started with a 4-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy and after falling at home to Wells and Brunswick by 4-1 scores, bounced back to defeat host Gray-New Gloucester (10-0, in five-innings), Edward Little (5-4, in eight-innings) and Poland (12-1, in five-innings), in its most recent game, last Saturday.

Last year, in addition to the playoff victory, the Rangers beat the Capers 10-3 in Cape Elizabeth and 11-0 (in five-innings) at home.

Friday, on a 62-degrees, sunny afternoon, Greely looked to beat Cape Elizabeth for a sixth straight time, but instead, the Capers got the job done, cutting the Rangers’ advantage to 27-wins-to-22 dating to the start of the 2002 campaign (see sidebar, below, for results).

Greely sophomore starting pitcher Keeler Vogt delivers to Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Altenburg to start the contest. Hoffer photos.

Senior third baseman Ben Altenburg led off the game by drawing a four-pitch walk from Greely sophomore starter Keeler Vogt, then Harmon singled to right before Song took ball four on a 3-2 pitch to set the stage for a potential fast start.


But Vogt settled in, catching senior first baseman Owen Tighe looking at strike three, doing the same to Bryant, then striking out senior centerfielder Antonio Dell’Aquila with the bat on his shoulder to end the threat.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore starter Jameson Bryant delivers a pitch.

The Rangers then got the jump in the bottom half against Bryant, as sophomore catcher Wyatt Soucie went the other way, doubling down the leftfield line and after sophomore designated hitter Wes Piper popped out foul to the catcher, Axelsen grounded the ball the other way, between first and second, and Soucie came home with the game’s first run. Junior second baseman Sam Almy lined out to center on the first pitch he saw, but after Axelsen stole second, Simpson dropped a single into left and Axelsen came in to score. Irish fouled out to first, but Greely had a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the second, the Capers bounced right back.

With a little help.

After Vogt blew strike three past sophomore catcher Jimmy Hollowell, senior rightfielder Sam Lombardo grounded the ball to second, but Almy juggled it for an error. Sophomore second baseman Brady Inman then dribbled the ball up the middle and while Axelsen got a glove on it, he couldn’t do anything with the ball and both runners were safe. Altenburg then hit a slow roller to short. Axelsen came in and got to the ball, but his throw to first was high and the error loaded the bases. That brought up Harmon, who crushed a Vogt offering deep to left-center for a double, which scored both Lombardo and Inman and put runners at second and third.

“I’m just trying to take it one pitch at a time, be ready for fastball and adjust to curve,” said Harmon. “I’m just confident up there. See-ball, hit-ball, having fun. I’m just trying to not do too much and put the ball in play. We’re a resilient team and we don’t get down on ourselves and stay positive.”


“Gabe’s the best player in Class B, no doubt about that,” said Dutton. “He finds barrels. He’s a guy I love to coach. You need a leader like him on your team.”

Song was next and hit a deep fly ball to center which junior Jackson Leding ran down for the out, but Altenburg came home on the sacrifice fly for the lead. Vogt then fanned Tighe, but Cape Elizabeth had a 3-2 advantage.

In the bottom half, Bryant settled in and got first baseman Alex Gamache to bounce out to third and rightfielder Sam Carter to ground out to short and after walking Vogt, he caught Soucie looking at strike three.

In the top of the third, Bryant watched strike three, Dell’Aquila grounded out back to the mound and after Hollowell drew a four-pitch walk, Vogt battled back from a 3-0 count to get Lombardo to ground out to second.

Greely drew even in the bottom, with some two-out magic.

After Bryant caught Piper looking at strike three, he fanned Axelsen on an off-speed pitch, but Almy lined a pitch up the middle, off Bryant’s foot, for an infield single, then courtesy runner Dan Ferrelli stole second. Ferrelli was injured on the play and Almy replaced him. Simpson then drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and Irish followed with a single to right to score Almy with the tying run. A wild pitch moved the runners up, but Gamache popped out foul to Tighe at first to keep the game tied, 3-3.


Cape Elizabeth showed its resiliency again in the top of the fourth, retaking the lead with a two-out uprising of its own.

Almy entered the game to pitch and struck out both Inman and Altenburg looking, but Harmon battled back from an 0-2 count and singled to center, then stole second. Song was walked intentionally and with Tighe at the plate, Almy threw a wild pitch, moving Harmon to third. The Capers then forced the action, as Song took off for second, hoping to draw a throw and Almy did fire to second, hoping to end the inning, but his throw was wild and the ball went into centerfield, allowing Harmon to come home with the go-ahead run.

“The same play happened in our win over Freeport,” Harmon said. “The runner gets off first early and we read the situation and hope good things happen. They made an error and we got the run.”

“We work on those plays every day in practice offensively and defensively, so we know what we’re doing in that first-and-third situation,” Dutton said. “It helped us against Freeport and it helped us again today.”

Tighe eventually struck out, but the Capers were back on top, 4-3.

Sullivan then came on to relieve Bryant in the bottom of the fourth and produced the first 1-2-3 inning of the contest, fanning junior Ethan Robeck on an off-speed pitch, getting Liam Coull to ground out to third, then inducing a grounder to second off the bat of Soucie, which Inman stopped with a nice stab before throwing to first to retire the side.


Cape Elizabeth went quietly in the top of the fifth, as Bryant struck out swinging, Dell’Aquila popped out to short and Hollowell watched strike three.

Senior Curtis Sullivan comes on in relief and shows his form.

In the bottom half, Piper flew to right, Axelsen popped out to Inman in shallow right and Almy grounded out to second.

The Capers had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the sixth, as Lombardo drew a four-pitch walk, Inman sacrificed him to second and after Altenburg watched strike three, Harmon was intentionally walked, but Song flew out deep to right to keep it a one-run contest.

In the bottom of the frame, Simpson led off and drew a walk and suddenly, the Rangers had the tying run on, but with Irish at the plate, Simpson took off for second and was thrown out by Hollowell, with Harmon making a nice scoop and tag.

“That was a huge play,” Sullivan said. “They saved me there.”

“Jimmy had a good throw there,” said Dutton. “Brought him up the line a little there and Gabe just had to catch and tag and it’s easy.”


“Unfortunately, that was supposed to be a bunt, but we had a missed sign there,” Greely coach Derek Soule lamented. “Another mental mistake.”

On the next pitch, Irish popped out to second, then Coull grounded out to second for the third out.

Cape Elizabeth again had an opportunity to open it up in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t do so.

Sophomore Andy Choi pinch-hit to lead off and couldn’t hold up on strike three, but Bryant lined the first pitch he saw to left-center for a single. Bryant then stole second and after Dell’Aquila struck out swinging, Hollowell beat out an infield single to put runners at the corners. Hollowell also stole second to put two runners in scoring position, but Lombardo fanned.

Sullivan then slammed the door in the bottom of the inning, getting pinch-hitter Zach Vanni to line out to center on a 3-2 pitch, fanning Coull, then inducing a grounder to third off the bat of Soucie and Altenburg threw him out to bring the curtain down on the 4-3 victory.

Cape Elizabeth celebrates its victory.

Harmon paced the offense with three hits and two RBI. He also stole a base and scored a run, as did Altenburg, Inman and Lombardo.


Song had an RBI as well.

The Capers were able to win despite stranding 10 runners.

Bryant started the game and earned a no-decision after giving up three runs on five hits in three innings. He struck out three, walked two and threw a wild pitch.

Sullivan was solid, as he earned the win in relief, not allowing a hit or a run in four innings, walking one and striking out two.

“(Relieving is) the same mindset, go out there and do the best I can for the team,” said Sullivan. “Having a lead was nice. I had good stuff. My fastball moved well and my breaking ball felt good. It all worked out. It felt awesome to close it out.”

“It came down to the resiliency of the pitching staff,” Dutton said. “Jameson pitched really well, then we brought in arguably the best pitcher in Class B and it was easy from there. I was trying to save (Curtis) for tomorrow, but here’s the deal with high school baseball, you just have to win every day and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. He’s a good ace in the hole to have.”



Greely’s offense featured RBI from Axelsen, Irish and Simpson and runs scored by Almy, Axelsen and Soucie.

The Rangers left four runners on.

Vogt pitched the first three innings, allowing three unearned runs on three hits. He walked three and fanned six.

Almy took the loss, giving up just one unearned run in four innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out nine.

“Keeler settled right in after loading the bases,” Soule said. “I felt like he was starting to get into rhythm, but we gave away too many outs. Sam pitched great and kept us in the game.”


Greely was doomed by three errors.

“Cape outplayed us defensively,” Soule said. “That’s the bottom line. They made the plays and we didn’t execute. That’s why they got the win. In order to beat a good team, we have to execute in all aspects of the game. We did alright offensively. Pitching was pretty good, but we didn’t make the plays. We practice first-and-third defense on a regular basis, but we didn’t execute that. We haven’t been on our field for a week, but no excuses. Those are plays we don’t need to practice. That’s not Greely baseball. We pride ourselves on pitching and defense first.

“We were in a really good stretch there. We won three games in four days and were swinging the bats well and were playing well overall. Then, the rain came and we lost a little of our mojo.”

Act two

The teams meet again next Friday in Cape Elizabeth, but both squads have a couple tests first.

The Rangers welcome Lake Region Monday and go to York Wednesday.


“It’s been awhile since I think the league has been this wide open,” Soule said. “It’s impressive the number of teams who have at least one high-quality starter. We have to continue to get better having productive at-bats against good pitching. That will be really important for us. We have to keep working at it. It’s a long season.”

The Capers are right back in action Saturday at Gray-New Gloucester, then they host Wells Monday.

“We’ve just got to keep playing good defense and take it one play at a time and keep having fun,” Harmon said.

“The guys are doing a good job of taking things one day at a time,” said Dutton. “Every day is a challenge.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

Recent Greely-Cape Elizabeth results

Greely 10 @ Cape Elizabeth 3
@ Greely 11 Cape Elizabeth 0 (5)
Class B South semifinals
@ Greely 2 Cape Elizabeth 0

Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Greely 0
Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 13 @ Cape Elizabeth (5)


Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
@ Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 0

Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Greely 1 (13)
Greely 7 @ Cape Elizabeth 2
Class B South semifinals
Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 2

Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Greely 3
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1 (8)
Class B South quarterfinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 5 Greely 4

@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 4

Greely 5 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Cape Elizabeth 3 @ Greely 0
Western B Final
Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1 (8)

@ Greely 6 Cape Elizabeth 1
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (8)


@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 4

@ Greely 8 Cape Elizabeth 0
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 9 @ Greely 6

Cape Elizabeth 8 @ Greely 4 (9)
Cape Elizabeth 7 Greely 4 (@ OOB)

@ Cape Elizabeth 6 Greely 5
Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 2
Western B semifianls
@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3 (8)

Cape Elizabeth 5 @ Greely 1
@ Cape Elizabeth 8 Greely 3
Western B semifinals
Greely 1 @ Cape Elizabeth 0 (10)

Cape Elizabeth 6 @ Greely 1
Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 5


@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 0
Greely 4 @ Cape Elizabeth 0

Greely 9 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 0

@ Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 3
@ Greely 3 Cape Elizabeth 1

@ Greely 11 Cape Elizabeth 10
@ Cape Elizabeth 2 Greely 1
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 4 Greely 1

@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 6
Greely 8 @ Cape Elizabeth 4
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 7 Cape Elizabeth 3

@ Cape Elizabeth 1 Greely 0
@ Greely 13 Cape Elizabeth 3 (5)

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