FALMOUTH—It was more of struggle than a statement, but Falmouth’s highly touted baseball team managed to begin the 2024 season with a victory Wednesday morning at Croker Field against another top Class A South contender, the Gorham Rams.

Along the way, the Navigators reminded everyone why they’re the favorite, as strong pitching and timely hitting carried the day.

Falmouth’s University of Maine-bound senior ace Brennan Rumpf got the only run he’d need in the bottom of the second inning when senior centerfielder Tony Severino belted an RBI double.

Rumpf worked around three walks and three Navigators errors to hold the lead and then, in the bottom of the fifth, Rumpf walked with the bases loaded to drive in an insurance run and junior second baseman Thomas Healey did the same to make it 3-0.

In the bottom of the sixth, junior shortstop Josh Polchies, a former Ram, essentially put it away with an RBI single and when the game went to the seventh, the biggest remaining question was if Rumpf could complete a no-hitter.

He did surrender two hits, but after junior Tyler Simmons came in to slam the door, Falmouth had a 4-0 victory and a strong start to the new season.


“It was a big game to open the season,” said Max Salevsky, a Navigators assistant who was filling in as coach with Mike D’Andrea out of town. “To come out on top against a really good Gorham team, we’re really excited.”

Here we go

Falmouth lost its season opener a year ago, at Scarborough, then turned around and won 16 straight before letting a late lead slip away in a 3-2 semifinal round loss to Thornton Academy.

With an abundance of talent returning, the Navigators are viewed by many as the team to beat in Class A South this season.

Gorham, meanwhile, is also highly considered after an 11-7 season, which ended with a quarterfinal round loss to Thornton Academy.

Last spring, Falmouth rolled to a mercy-rule victory at the Rams, 11-1, in six-innings.


Wednesday, on a pleasant mid-April day (49 degrees and breezy), Gorham sought its first win over the Navigators in six years, but instead, Falmouth got the job done despite some anxious moments.

Falmouth senior ace Brennan Rumpf delivers the game’s first pitch to Gorham’s Cole Whitehead in the Navigators’ 4-0 victory Wednesday. Hoffer photos.

Rumpf began the game by walking Rams senior catcher Cole Whitehead, but he got sophomore shortstop Miles Brenner to pop a bunt back to the mound, junior third baseman Mason Finck to fly out to left and junior first baseman Jack Karlonas to chase strike three to retire the side.

In the bottom half, against Gorham junior starter Casey Skolfield, Polchies grounded out to first on the first pitch he saw and after senior catcher Ethan Hendry drew a walk, Simmons grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch and sophomore first baseman Jacoby Porter bounced back to the mound to keep the game scoreless.

In the top of the second, Rumpf retired freshman second baseman Hunter Finck on a grounder to second, which resulted in a close play at first, then he got Skolfield to line to right where junior Nick Wyse made a fabulous running, diving catch.

“That play was huge,” said Rumpf. “If he didn’t make that play, things might have gone a different way. I’m always grateful for great defense.”

Sophomore centerfielder Caden Smith drew a walk, but Rumpf got senior leftfielder Brady Arsenault to strike out swinging.


In the bottom of the frame, Falmouth went on top.

Skolfield got Rumpf, his opposite number, to ground out to third leading off, but Healey drew a walk, then Severino squared up a fastball and drove it over Smith’s head to the centerfield wall for a double, allowing Healey to come all the way around.

Falmouth junior Thomas Healey comes home with the game’s first run off a double from Tony Severino.

Sophomore leftfielder Caden Berry grounded out to third, with Severino moving to third, then Wyse struck out to keep the score 1-0.

Rumpf then protected the lead by striking out the side in the top of the third.

Rumpf started the frame by getting senior rightfielder Izak Young to swing and foul tip strike three into Hendry’s glove. Whitehead then grounded the ball up the middle and he reached when Polchies couldn’t handle it. Rumpf wasn’t fazed, however, getting Brenner to watch strike three before fanning Mason Finck on a 3-2 pitch.

In the bottom half, Polchies watched strike three on a 3-2 pitch, Hendry grounded out to second and after Simmons reached on an infield hit off the glove of Skolfield, Porter struck out swinging.


Falmouth first baseman Jacoby Porter takes a mighty swing.

Rumpf made quick work of Gorham in the top of the fourth, getting Karlonas to bounce back to the mound, Hunter Frink to ground in front of the plate where Hendry pounced on the ball and threw him out, then striking out Skolfield looking.

The Navigators put their leadoff runner on to start the bottom half, as Rumpf reached on an error by Mason Finck at third, but he couldn’t advance, as Healey flew out deep to center, Severino grounded out to third, then Berry watched strike three.

The Rams had a golden opportunity to pull even or go ahead in the top of the fifth, as Smith led off and reached on a Polchies throwing error and after Smith stole second, Arsenault drew a walk, but Rumpf got Young to bunt back to the mound, which resulted in a force out at third, then Rumpf got Whitehead to fly out routinely to rightfield before punctuating the escape by fanning Brenner.

Falmouth got some breathing room in the bottom half.

Wyse struck out looking leading off, but Polchies singled to left-center, then Hendry walked and Simmons was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Skolfield appeared poised to escape the jam when he struck out Porter on an off-speed, 3-2 pitch, but Rumpf hung in there, worked the count full, then took ball four, allowing Polchies to score. Healey then drew a walk on a full count pitch as well as Hendry came home to make it 3-0, ending Skolfield’s outing.

Brenner came on to pitch and struck out Severino, but Rumpf suddenly had a cushion.


“That was big to get those runs there,” said Rumpf.

Rumpf fanned both Mason Finck and Karlonas to start the top of the sixth, but Hunter Finck reached on an error when Simmons bobbled his ground ball. Rumpf then got Skolfield to ground into a shortstop-to-second force out to send the game to the bottom of the inning.

There, junior Brandon White pinch-hit and reached on a throwing error. Berry then re-entered and stole second. Junior pinch-hitter Sam Shapiro struck out swinging, but Polchies’ second hit, a line drive single to center, easily scored Berry with Falmouth’s fourth run.

“I’m always looking to go over the shortstop’s head,” said Polchies. “I poked it out there for an RBI.”

Hendry grounded into a short-to-first double play, but the Navigators were on the brink of victory.

Rumpf’s bid for pitching immortality ended quickly in the top of the seventh, as Smith led off with a solid single to center. Freshman pinch-hitter Cooper Whitehead then singled past third and Rumpf was replaced for Simmons.


Simmons then closed it out quickly, fanning senior pinch-hitter Thomas Curtis, getting Cole Whitehead to fly out to right and after throwing a wild pitch that moved up the runners, Simmons struck out Brenner swinging to bring the curtain down on the 4-0 victory.

“This is my favorite game of the year,” said Polchies. “I played for Gorham freshman year, so I got to see all my friends. I was hyped for it.”

“This time of year, the pitching is definitely ahead of the hitting, so we came out and put the ball in play and made routine plays,” Salevsky said. “That’s what it’s about. Our veterans came up huge for us.”

Polchies had two of the Navigators’ four hits and also had a run scored and an RBI. Berry, Healey and Hendry also scored. Healey, Rumpf and Severino also drove in runs. Falmouth left seven runners on base.

Rumpf earned the victory, giving up just two hits in six-plus scoreless innings. Rumpf walked three and struck out nine.

“I was definitely nervous,” Rumpf said. “It was my first Opening Day varsity start. The jitters were there but I just tried to go out and do the best I could to help my team out. I had no idea (I had a no-hitter going). We got the win and that’s all that matters.”


“We love having Brennan on the mound,” said Polchies. “He makes the defense better.”

“(Brennan) made big pitches,” Salevsky added. “He’s our senior leader out there. With him on the mound, we’re confident in every game.”

Simmons’ perfect inning of relief saw him fan two.

“For (Tyler) to come in close game, he did the right thing, throwing strikes,” said Rumpf.

“Getting those last three outs is never the easiest thing to do,” Salvesky said. “For (Tyler) to shut the door, that was huge.”

Gorham had its opportunities, but couldn’t score any of its eight baserunners.


Skolfield took the loss, surrendering three earned runs on three hits in 4.1 innings. He walked five and struck out six.

Brenner gave up one unearned run on one hit in 1.2 innings of relief, fanning two.

Friday fun

Gorham plays its home opener Friday against Kennebunk.

Falmouth, meanwhile, remains home Friday to face Noble.

“We want to show teams we’re the number one team,” said Polchies. “We have to keep playing hard and keep training and get better every game.”

“The expectations are something we embrace, but we just want to go out and compete every single game,” Rumpf said. “In my four years, we’ve always had good seasons. This year means a lot, so we’re going to make everything count.”

“We’re focusing on business as usual,” added Salvevsky. “We look forward to getting back out there Friday.”

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

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