YARMOUTH—Whether or not good fortune is on the side of Yarmouth’s baseball team, rest assured that the Clippers are going to remain confident and aggressive.

And those qualities paid huge dividends Thursday afternoon in a Class B South quarterfinal round tournament game against upset-minded, visiting Leavitt.

Second-ranked Yarmouth got another stellar pitching performance from senior Liam Hickey, who held the 10th-seeded Hornets scoreless for five innings, but despite multiple chances, the Clippers couldn’t solve Leavitt junior pitcher Will Keach.

Then, in the top of the sixth, Keach scored on a throwing error and the Hornets were on the brink of the biggest upset of the tournament so far.

But Yarmouth refused to let it happen.

In the bottom of the sixth, senior centerfielder Jonny Cody walked, moved to third on an error, then scored on a sacrifice fly by junior rightfielder Jack Janczuk to tie the score.


Leavitt got the go-ahead run to third in the top of the seventh, but junior shortstop Andrew Cheever came on in relief of Hickey and recorded a strikeout to end the threat.

Then, in the bottom half, Cheever walked, stole second, moved to third on a deep fly ball, then with senior third baseman Stevie Walsh at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Cheever to race home and the Clippers had a palpitating 2-1 victory.

Yarmouth won a quarterfinal round game for the first time in six years, improved to 12-5, ended Leavitt’s season at 9-9 and advanced to host No. 6 Greely (11-7) in the semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m.

“You take the win, move on and survive and advance,” said longtime Clippers coach Marc Halsted. “We’d like to score more than two runs, but that’s so Yarmouth baseball to win that way. Ultra-aggressive, attack, attack, attack. You can attack even when you’re not hitting missiles all over the field.”

Any means necessary

Yarmouth rode a nine-game win streak to an eventual 11-5 record and the No. 2 ranking in the region (see sidebar for links to previous stories).


Leavitt, meanwhile, was 6-2 at the midway point, then lost five of six games to drop in the standings.

Tuesday, in the preliminary round, the Hornets upset No. 7 Freeport, 6-3, to end the Falcons’ reign as regional champion.

Leavitt and Yarmouth didn’t meet this spring, but they had played twice previously in the playoffs, with the Hornets winning a wild 13-12 (nine-inning) decision in the 1998 Western C quarterfinals and the Clippers prevailing, 8-1, in the 2017 Class B South preliminary round en route to the state championship.

Thursday, on a cloudy but dry 60-degree day, after three straight losses in the quarterfinal round, Yarmouth got over the hump.

But not without a mighty scare.

Hickey surrendered a leadoff single to center off the bat of Keach to start the game, but he settled in and got junior shortstop Noah Carpenter to fly to right, then got senior centerfielder Connor DeCoster to ground out to third and junior catcher Luke Gladu to ground to short.


In the bottom half, Keach caught junior second baseman Matt Gautreau looking at strike three, then got Cheever to ground out to first, but he plunked junior first baseman David Swift with a pitch, then Walsh drew a walk. That brought up senior designated hitter Sam Lowenstein, who grounded out to short to end the threat.

Hickey was dominant in the top of the second, catching junior second baseman Colton Taylor looking at strike three, then fanning junior first baseman Kade Knight and junior third baseman Brandon Bilodeau.

In the bottom half, Cody bounced out to short and junior leftfielder Sam Bradford grounded out to third, but Janczuk singled to left. Keach stranded him by getting junior catcher Graeme Roux to fly out to center.

Hickey began the top of the third by getting senior designated hitter Aidan Lind to ground back to the mound, but he walked senior rightfielder Jake Mellen to snap a string of seven straight batters retired. Hickey then got Keach to fly to center and Carpenter to fly out to right.

In the bottom half, Gautreau popped out to second, but Cheever reached on an error by Carpenter only to be caught stealing. Swift kept the inning alive with a walk, but Walsh popped out to second to keep the game scoreless.

Yarmouth senior pitcher Liam Hickey delivers to Leavitt’s Connor DeCoster during the Clippers’ victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

In the top of the fourth, DeCoaster grounded out to second, but Gladu followed by crushing a drive over the head of Janczuk in right. Gladu rounded second and hoped to stretch a double into a triple, but Janczuk fired the ball to Gautreau, who relayed it to Walsh, who applied the tag for the out.


“Jack made a great throw right to my glove hand and from there, I just saw Stevie calling for the ball and I just threw it,” said Gautreau.

Taylor then grounded to second to end the inning.

Lowenstein struck out swinging to start the bottom of the fourth, then Cody fouled out to Gladu on a 3-2 pitch before Bradford drew a four-pitch walk. He’d be stranded, however, as Keach got Janczuk to fly out to right.

The Hornets threatened in the top of the fifth, as Knight drew a walk leading off and was sacrificed to second by Bilodeau, then took third when Lind grounded out to second, but Hickey got Mellen to bounce out to short to escape.

Yarmouth then had a golden opportunity to go on top in the bottom half, loading the bases with one out.

Senior Truman Peters pinch-hit leading off, but grounded back to the mound. Gautreau then got things started by lining a base hit down the leftfield line and when the ball was juggled, he raced to second. Cheever then hit a shot to center that DeCoster dove for but couldn’t reach. Gautreau had to hold on the play, however, and couldn’t advance. Swift was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for Walsh. Walsh fell behind in the count 0-2, took a couple balls, then chased strike three.


Yarmouth junior designated hitter Sam Lowenstein hits a sharp line drive with the bases loaded.

That set the stage for Lowenstein, who crushed the ball, but it was right at DeCoster in second for the final out, keeping the score 0-0.

But not for long.

Keach helped himself leading off the top of the sixth with a single over Gautreau’s head into right-center. Carpenter then hit a sharp grounder up the middle that deflected off Hickey’s leg to Walsh at third. Walsh threw to first to narrowly get the runner, but Keach rounded second and headed for third, which caused Swift to throw wildly and that brought Keach home for the game’s first run. DeCoster grounded out to second and Gladu bounced out to third, but the damage was done and the Hornets had a 1-0 lead.

The Clippers were on the ropes, but they responded like the champions they hope to become.

Cody sparked the rally by walking on a 3-1 pitch. Bradford flew out to center, where DeCoster caught the ball, then he attempted to double up Cody, but the throw got away and Cody went all the way to third. That loomed huge, as Janczuk was next and he hit a fly ball to right that was deep enough to bring Cody in with the tying run.

Yarmouth’s Jonny Cody dives in to tie the score.

Roux then reached safely on an error on a slow roller, bringing up Gautreau, who nearly put Yarmouth ahead with a blast to deep center, but DeCoster was there to record the out to send the game to the seventh deadlocked, 1-1.


“It was a little frustrating, but I knew other guys would get the job done,” Gautreau said.

Hickey then walked Taylor leading off and after Knight sacrificed pinch-runner John Oliver to second, Hickey came out in favor of Cheever.

Cheever got Bilodeau to swing at the first pitch and ground out to Walsh, who had moved to short, putting Oliver at third base. That brought up Lind hoping to play the hero, but Cheever struck him out on three pitches, with the third called, to send the game to the fateful bottom of the seventh.

“I actually like having runners on,” Cheever said. “It gets my adrenaline going. I just had to pick a spot and throw it by him.”

“Cheever likes guys on base, so I knew he would get the job done,” said Gautreau.

Cheever led off the bottom of the seventh against Taylor, who had come on in relief, and he drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch. With Swift at the plate, Cheever took off for second and appeared in trouble, but he managed to slide in safely with the steal.


“I got thrown out in the fourth inning and I knew the baseball Gods wouldn’t let me get thrown out twice,” Cheever said.

“Andrew Cheever lives his life on the attack and I appreciate that so much about him,” said Halsted. “That was just a little bit of good luck.”

Swift then nearly ended it with a deep drive to center, but DeCoster ran it down. On the play, Cheever moved to third.

That brought Walsh to the plate and everyone on hand expected “Stevie Wonder,” who has spent his high school career providing heroics in soccer, basketball and baseball to produce the winning run.

That run would score, but not in the way anyone expected.

Taylor delivered to the plate, but his low pitch was in the dirt, got away from Gladu and Cheever steamed home to win it, 2-1, setting off a wild celebration.


Andrew Cheever comes home to win it as Leavitt pitcher Colton Taylor looks on in dismay.

“I just saw the ball in the dirt, read it and ran,” Cheever said. “It was an awesome feeling knowing all the boys were coming to give me a hug. I think we knew from the beginning that we could put up runs no matter the situation. We just needed a momentum starter and I got on. Stevie had a great take at the end. I’ve been on the team since my freshman year and we’ve gone through ups-and-downs and the downs are not fun, so it’s a great feeling knowing we’re moving on.”

“We’ve showed we can handle adversity,” Gautreau said. “We all believed and we knew we could do it. Coach just told us to stay on the attack. It’s a huge win. It was win-or-go-home.”

“You know what kids are going to come through,” Halsted said. “As a coach, it’s so much fun.”

Yarmouth only mustered three hits, but it was enough, as Cheever and Cody scored the runs and Janczuk had an RBI.

The Clippers left 10 runners on.

Hickey didn’t earn a decision, giving up one unearned run on three hits and three walks in 6.1 innings. He struck out three.


“That’s what we expect from Liam,” Cheever said. “We trust him. Even with guys on, he does not care and he’s just going to be Liam.”

“Of course Liam only gave up one run and did his job,” Halsted said. “He did his job and made that last play on the bunt too. That was pretty cool.”

Cheever earned the victory in relief, retiring the only two hitters he faced.

“Andrew Cheever has no conscience, he’ll just go to work,” Halsted said. “Good luck with the radar gun on that last pitch.”

Leavitt got two hits from Keach, who also scored Leavitt’s lone run. The Hornets stranded four runners.

Keach got a no-decision after six strong innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.


Taylor gave up the winning run in relief.

Back in conference

Yarmouth swept Greely this spring for the first time in 13 years, prevailing in Cumberland (12-2) and at home (4-2). The Clippers have lost five of seven prior playoff meetings, with a 2-0 setback in the 2016 Class B South quarterfinals the most recent.

The Rangers are playing well and have nothing to lose and Yarmouth knows that beating a good team, not to mention one of its biggest rivals, three times will be a daunting chore, but the Clippers can’t wait to return to action.

“We’ll be back here Saturday and we’ll be confident,” said Gautreau. “We’ll be ready.”

“We need to go into the next round with swagger and have confidence we can beat anybody, anytime,” Cheever said.

“Any of the teams can win,” said Halsted. “It’s baseball, the hardest sport to win. The best, most athletic team doesn’t always win. We can’t wait to play Greely. We love them, we respect them. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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