POLAND —   Need a five o’clock rally? Go with the five o’clock shadow.

Hey, in baseball, game of eccentricities and age-old superstitions, Cape Elizabeth’s strategy for snapping out of a late-season slump makes sense. As much sense as having chicken every night for dinner or wearing the same sanitary socks in back-to-back-to-back games.

“We had a spell where we lost four straight games by a total of six runs, and two of those games we were ahead late and fell apart. So we took desperate measures and we haven’t shaved in a week-and-a-half,” Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Hayward said. “It’s given the kids something. You’ve got to change something after four straight losses, and they don’t want to listen to me after a loss.”

The razors will collect rust in the medicine cabinet for at least another week. Cape collected three runs in the top of the eighth inning Wednesday to claim a 3-0 WMC stare down with Poland.

A one-out walk by No. 9 hitter Mattty Pierce, an infield single by middle-inning replacement Tim Stack and two wild pitches fueled the rally.

Max Gore broke the deadlock with his second hit of the game against Poland ace Jed Quint. Chris Robicheaw’s textbook placement of a squeeze bunt scored Stack and left everyone safe, setting up Will LeBlond’s sacrifice fly.

LeBlond, Cape’s No. 1 hurler, retired Poland in order to close it out. He combined with Sam Koslowski on a three-hit shutout, allowing only a seventh-inning single to Jake Simard after entering in the fifth.

“The first walk (by either team) was the winning run,” Poland coach Mike Connor noted. “Good pitching, good defense. They executed. They pulled off the squeeze to give them the cushion late. They had the opportunities and they picked it up.”

Cape (8-8) likely claimed the No. 8 seed in the Western Class B playoffs and expects to host Gray-New Gloucester in a preliminary game Tuesday.

Poland, which wouldn’t have made the playoff cut even with a victory, finished 7-9 and bid farewell to three seniors —  Quint, Dillon Douglass and Pat Summers.

“This year was fun because I got to see what’s coming,” Connor said. “The two, three, four and five (pitchers) this year were sophomores. It bodes well for the future.”

Quint went out in style. The right-hander responsible for four of the Knights’ seven wins blanked the Capers on four hits until the eighth.

Only two Cape runners advanced to scoring position prior to the extra frame. Quint struck out five against the lone walk and one hit batsman.

“I was happy to find out he’s a senior,” Hayward said of Quint.

“That’s a good way to go out,” Connor added. “He had 72 pitches through out six innings and I told him, ‘You’re going until you can’t go anymore.'”

Cape’s tandem was equally untouchable. Beginning with a 1-4-3 double play in the second inning, Kosloswki and LeBlond retired 15 consecutive Knights.

Koslowski struck out two, surrendering only singles to Simard in the first and Shawn Murphy in the second.

LeBlond struck out the side in the sixth. Simard stole second base as the potential winning run in the seventh, but LeBlond lured Murphy into a groundout to extend the game.

“I said early in the year in preseason that I liked our pitching and I liked our defense and if we could score runs we’d be alright,” Hayward said.

Quint had two strikes on both Pierce and Stack before they reached base in the eighth. The Knights got a glove on Stack’s slow roller between first and second base but couldn’t handle it cleanly.

Gore slapped a first-pitch line drive past diving shortstop C.J. Martin. The resulting run made it an easier decision to have Robicheaw bunt.

“We squeeze frequently,” Hayward said. “It’s indefensible when you do it right.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: