CAPE ELIZABETH—One strike was all that stood between Cape Elizabeth’s baseball team and its first setback of its storybook season Friday evening against ancient rival Greely at Holman Field.

But that strike that never came.

The Capers capped a perfect first half of the 2023 season with their most dramatic and improbable victory to date, thanks in large part to a couple of players who knew nothing but frustration most of the day.

Until it mattered most.

Sophomore starter Jameson Bryant didn’t allow the Rangers a hit in the first four innings and Cape Elizabeth took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when senior centerfielder Antonio Dell’Aquila was hit by a pitch, stole second, then scored on an RBI single from sophomore catcher Jimmy Hollowell.

Greely finally broke through in the top of the fifth, as first baseman Alex Gamache led off with a double and came home with the tying run on a sacrifice fly from second baseman Liam Coull.


Both teams had their chances in the later innings, but couldn’t break through and the game needed an eighth inning (and eventually a ninth and a 10th).

In the top of the eighth, with two on and one out, junior shortstop Marky Axelsen grounded into a force out, but beat the throw to first to avoid a double play and catcher Wyatt Soucie came home with the go-ahead run.

Axelsen hoped to close it out in the bottom half and appeared poised to do so when leftfielder Ryder Simpson threw out the tying run at the plate, but with two out and two strikes on senior first baseman Owen Tighe, Tighe made contact and crushed a double to deep left to tie the score.

Senior Curtis Sullivan then set Greely down in the ninth and 10th and after having another runner thrown out at home by Simpson in the ninth, the Capers finally ended it in the bottom of the 10th.

With two on and two outs, Dell’Aquila, who twice failed to come through after the Rangers intentionally walked the hitter in front of him, junior rightfielder Charlie Song, this time played the hero, lining a single to right to plate junior shortstop Gabe Harmon and give Cape Elizabeth a dizzying and dazzling 3-2 victory.

The Capers stayed perfect, beat Greely for the second time in a week and dropped the Rangers to 5-4 in the process.


“It’s a big win for us,” said Cape Elizabeth’s first-year coach Donny Dutton, who has pushed all of the right buttons so far this spring. “These guys are resilient and they won’t go down without a fight. You just have to stay in it. We’re good and I think everyone is starting to take notice of that. It’s been special so far.”

A little of everything

Last Friday, in Cumberland, the Capers eked out a 4-3 victory behind Harmon’s three hits and Sullivan’s strong work in relief. Cape Elizabeth had previously defeated visiting Old Orchard (7-1), host York (6-4), visiting Fryeburg (7-4) and visiting Freeport (2-1). After a 3-2 win at Gray-New Gloucester Saturday, the Capers downed visiting Wells Monday, 5-0.

Greely, meanwhile, 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). After losing at home to Cape Elizabeth, the Rangers beat visiting Lake Region (11-1, in six innings) and host York by the same score (in five-innings).

Friday, on a very pleasant mid-May afternoon (71 degrees at first pitch with limited winds, a rarity for the location), Cape Elizabeth was pushed to the brink, but somehow rose off the deck and not only won the game, but in the process, swept a regular season series from Greely for the first time since 2017 and started season 8-0 for the first time since 2010.

Cape Elizabeth starter Jameson Bryant delivers the game’s first pitch to Greely catcher Wyatt Soucie. The Capers would eventually prevail in 10 innings, 3-2. Hoffer photos.

Bryant, who started but was ineffective against the Rangers in the teams’ last meeting, last week, got off to a much more auspicious start, striking out both Soucie and Greely starter Sam Almy. After hitting Axelsen with a pitch, Bryant got Simpson to pop out to third.


In the bottom half, Almy walked sophomore second baseman Brady Inman to start, then Inman stole second. Harmon then picked up where he left off against the Rangers last time, hitting a sharp line drive to the right of second base, but it was right at Coull for the first out. Senior third baseman Ben Altenburg then drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Almy got Tighe to hit a sharp ground ball to short, where Axelsen flipped to Coull for one out and Coull threw on to Gamache at first for an inning-ending double play.

Bryant made quick work of Greely in the top of the second, getting third baseman Cam Irish to ground out to short before catching Gamache looking at strike three and fanning rightfielder Ethan Robeck.

Cape Elizabeth then went on top in the bottom half, with a little controversy mixed in.

Song struck out swinging leading off, then Dell’Aquila was awarded first base when a pitch appeared to brush his uniform. The home plate umpire ruled the pitch a ball, but upon appeal, the base umpire called it a hit-by-pitch. Rangers coach Derek Soule argued to the contrary, but Dell’Aquila took first base. Dell’Aquila promptly stole second, then Hollowell went the other way and singled to right, scoring the speedy Dell’Aquila for a 1-0 lead. Hollowell tried to steal as well, but Soucie threw him out, and Sullivan, who began the game in leftfield, chased strike three for the third out.

In the top of the third, Bryant caught designated hitter Wes Piper looking at strike three and after Coull reached on an error, at third, Soucie bunted the ball in the air. Bryant couldn’t catch it cleanly, but with Coull having to hold to see if the ball landed safely, Bryant threw easily to second for the force out. Almy then grounded to third to end the frame.

Greely starter Sam Almy throws a strike.

In the bottom half, Almy settled in and struck out senior designated hitter Phil Coupe, got Inman to ground out to third and Harmon to fly out deep to center.


Greely couldn’t generate any offense in the top of the fourth, as Bryant got Axelsen to ground out to short before blowing strike three past Simpson and getting Irish to pop out foul to third.

In the bottom of the frame, Altenburg led off with a single up the middle, but for the second time, Tighe grounded into a short-to-second-to-first double play and after Song singled sharply to left and stole second, Dell’Aquila struck out swinging to end the threat.

The Rangers then drew even in the top of the fifth.

Gamache got things started by going the other way and lining a double down the rightfield line. Dan Ferrelli came on to run. Bryant then plunked pinch-hitter Jerik Phillips with a pitch, putting two on. Pinch-hitter Tyler Piesik struck out swinging, but when Hollowell couldn’t handle strike three, both runners moved up on the passed ball. That set the stage for Coull, who flew out to right, easily scoring Ferrelli, with Phillips taking third.

Dan Ferrelli comes home with the game-tying run.

Phillips would be stranded, however, as Soucie chased strike three, but Greely had tied the game, 1-1.

In the bottom half, Almy continued to deal, getting Hollowell to ground out to third before fanning Sullivan and catching Coupe watching strike three.


The Rangers had a chance to go on top in the top of the sixth, as Almy drew a walk leading off. Courtesy runner Sam Carter stayed put as Axelsen took a high strike three, then he stole second with Simpson at the plate. Simpson then drew a walk, but Bryant got a break when he caught Carter leaning and picked him off second. Irish then hit a flare that appeared ticketed for leftfield and an RBI, but Harmon ran it down to retire the side.

Inman then singled into the hole on a 1-2 pitch leading off the bottom half and the Capers were in business. Senior Sam Lombardo came on to run and after Harmon flew out deep to left, he stole second. Altenburg was then walked intentionally, bringing up Tighe’s place in the order, but Dutton had Andy Choi come on and hit instead. Almy then appeared to have Lombardo picked off, but he took off for third and slid under the tag, with Altenburg taking second on the play. Choi had a chance to put the ball in play and deliver the go-ahead run, but Almy struck him out swinging. That brought up Song, who was walked intentionally to load the bases for Dell’Aquila. Dell’Aquila got ahead in the count 3-1, then it went full before he struck out swinging to keep the game tied.

In the top of the seventh, Harmon replaced Bryant on the mound and he made quick work of the Rangers, getting Gamache to ground out to second, Robeck to fly out to center and battling back from a 3-0 count to fan Piper swinging.

Cape Elizabeth then had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the seventh, as Hollowell led off with a grounder to short that resulted in an error. Andrew Libby came on to run, but was thrown out trying to steal. After pinch-hitter Sam Bischoff struck out swinging, Almy’s final pitch of the day resulted in a grounder to short off the bat of Bryant.

Greely then took the lead in the top of the eighth.

After pinch-hitter Zach Vanni popped out foul to Tighe at first on the first pitch, Soucie singled past Altenburg, who had moved to second base. Soucie promptly stole second, then went to third when Almy singled sharply to right. That brought up Axelsen, who hit a ground ball to short that at first appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball, but the ball was hit so hard to Inman, who had moved over to short, that he had to wait for Brooking to get to second to cover and while Cape Elizabeth easily recorded the force out, Axelsen beat the throw from second, which got away for an error, allowing Axelsen to move to second while Soucie scored. Simpson had a chance to add an insurance run, but he grounded to short, keeping the score 2-1.


Axelsen then took the mound in the bottom half, looking to close it out and after getting Inman to pop to third, he got Harmon to hit a shot right at Irish at third, but Irish couldn’t handle the ball and Harmon reached safely. Harmon then stole second and appeared poised to score the tying run when Altenburg followed with a single into left, but Simpson charged the ball and fired the ball to the plate where Soucie came up the line to retrieve it before tagging out Harmon.

For a split second following the tag, the Rangers thought they’d won the game when they tagged out Altenburg at second, but interference was ruled and instead, Altenburg went to third.

“I thought we had the win until the interference call,” said Soule. “I’ve coached in over 400 games and I’ve never had the last out taken away by an interference call. My understanding is that if the ball is in the air, a fielder can be in the basepath. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

That brought Tighe to the batter’s box with the contest hanging in the balance.

Axelsen got the count to 2-2 and was on the verge of giving Greely an inspirational victory, but Tighe turned on a fastball and sent it deep to left, over the head of Simpson and one hop off the fence. Altenburg came home easily with the tying run while Tighe took second with the game-tying double.

“I was talking to myself the whole time, telling myself I was ready to hit it,” Tighe said. “I knew my pitch was coming and I put all I had into it. I didn’t even feel the ball hit the bat, so I knew I hit it well. It was awesome.”


“That’s just him being a senior leader, not letting his previous at-bats dictate how the rest of the game would go,” Dutton said. “No one better in that spot to come up with that hit.”

From the brink of defeat, the Capers now had a chance to win it and Song was intentionally walked again, bringing up Dell’Aquila. Dell’Aquila couldn’t play the hero, however, flying out to center, but the game was deadlocked, 2-2.

Sullivan then came in to pitch and the Rangers could do nothing with him in the top of the ninth, as Irish lined to right on the first pitch he saw, Gamache grounded to second and Robeck chased strike three.

Plenty of drama would ensue in the bottom of the ninth, but Cape Elizabeth couldn’t end the game.

Cape Elizabeth’s Brady Inman lines a single late in the game.

Hollowell hit the first pitch he saw from Axelsen up the middle for a single, then Sullivan bunted him to second. Jack Carignan came on to run and after Bryant struck out swinging, Inman bid to win it, as he singled to left on the first pitch he saw. Carignan rounded third and headed for the plate. Again Simpson delivered a strong throw, slightly up the third base line. Soucie got the ball and while Carignan was able to jump over the tag, he also overshot the plate and he’d be tagged out by Soucie to send the game to the 10th inning.

“My mindset is to be aggressive and make those guys make those plays,” Dutton said. “Tip your cap to Ryder. He’s a good outfielder, but we’re going to roll the dice every time we can.”


Sullivan started his second inning of relief by catching Piper looking at strike three, then getting Coull to line to short, but Soucie went the other way and doubled to left to put the go-ahead run on. Almy then made solid contact, sending the ball deep to left, but Bryant ran it down.

With daylight dimming by the minute, the umpires and coaches had a quick chat before the bottom of the 10th and while they agreed to attempt to play an 11th inning if necessary, there was no guarantee it would happen.

That proved to be a moot point as the Capers finally delivered resolution.

Harmon led off with a single between short and third on a 3-2 pitch. Axelsen then tried to pick him off but threw wildly for an error, allowing Harmon to take second. Altenburg then bunted the ball and while Axelsen threw him out in a bang-bang play at first, Harmon took third.

Tighe, who had already played the hero once, had a chance to end the game and he managed to put the ball in play, but with Greely’s infield playing in, his sharp grounder was right at second and Coull threw to first for the second out with Harmon having to hold at third. Then, for the third time, the Rangers intentionally walked Song, bringing up Dell’Aquila.

And the third time would be the charm.


Dell’Aquila worked the count in his favor, then made solid contact, lining the ball toward rightfield. The only question was whether or not the ball would land safely, but it would do just that and at 7:42 p.m., after more than two-and-a-half hours of grueling and scintillating baseball, the Capers were able to rush the field and celebrate their 3-2 victory.

Let the celebration begin. Cape Elizabeth rushes to congratulate Antonio Dell’Aquila after his game-ending single.

“I was just trying to put it in play,” said Dell’Aqula, who admitted after the game he felt disrespected after Song was walked intentionally in front of him. “I was just looking for one down the plate that I could put on the ground or get in the air and bring Gabe in. I knew it was going to drop. That was one of the greatest feelings ever. I wanted to be there. I was excited to have the bat in my hands.”

“It feels awesome to beat them,” Tighe said. “It’s always a tough game against Greely in every sport. It’s a confidence-booster if we see them in the playoffs.”

“With (Tony), all he has to do is put a bat on the ball and his speed takes care of everything else,” Dutton added. “He barreled that up pretty well and it found a hole.

“Greely’s a good team. I’ve had the privilege of coaching almost all of those guys in the travel world, so every time I play against them, it’s always a little something extra for me.”

Cape Elizabeth got two hits apiece from Altenburg, Hollowell and Inman.


Altenburg, Dell’Aquila and Harmon scored runs.

Dell’Aquila, Hollowell and Tighe all had clutch RBI.

Cape Elizabeth stranded nine base runners, but was able to overcome.

Bryant didn’t get a decision despite giving up just one unearned run on one hit in his six innings of work. He walked two and struck out nine.

Harmon gave up one run on two hits in his two innings of relief.

Sullivan earned the victory in relief, pitching two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and fanning two.


“Jameson is developing into that number two pitcher behind Curt,” said Dutton. “He comes out start after start and gets the job done. Getting into the later innings, Gabe kept things at bay, then we rolled it over to the ace and we’ll ride Curt as long as we can.”

Everything but a win

For Greely, Soucie had two hits and scored a run. Ferrelli also touched home plate. Axelsen and Coull had RBI.

The Rangers stranded six runners.

Almy didn’t earn a decision, allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings. He walked four and fanned nine.

“Sam settled down and threw great,” Soule said.


Axelsen took the loss after giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits in 2.2 innings of relief. He walked two and struck out one.

“It was definitely a roller-coaster in terms of emotions,” said Soule. “We had two tough calls. The hit batter appeal was overturned by someone over 100 feet away and that was a run as well. It’s tough, but that’s part of the game. Even though there were frustrations, it was a fun game to be a part of and there was some stuff to get excited about, like Ryder throwing two runners out at the plate. It’s important for us to have these tight games. Dealing with emotions and high-pressure at-bats and pitches and making defensive plays in high-pressure situations should only benefit us. We’ve had two one-run games against (Cape) and we know we can compete.”

No time to dwell

Both teams have multiple challenges awaiting them in the days to come.

Greely has a home showdown versus Yarmouth Monday, then goes to Freeport for a regional final rematch Tuesday.

“This is rivalry week,” said Soule. “Cape (today), Yarmouth Monday, then Freeport Tuesday. We’ll get back to work tomorrow morning.”


Cape Elizabeth plays four times next week, Monday at Poland, Wednesday at Brunswick, Thursday at home versus Mt. Ararat and Friday at Freeport.

“We knew we’d be good and going 8-0 is good to see,” said Dell’Aquila. “We’re working hard at practice and we bring it every game.”

“We think we can go super-far,” Tighe said. “We’re building confidence game-after-game.”

“We have a busy week coming up,” Dutton added. “We have four games in five days. We have to make sure we’re ready to go.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

Recent Greely-Cape Elizabeth results

Cape Elizabeth 4 @ Greely 3

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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