STANDISH — The ninth-seeded Yarmouth Clippers continued their run through the Class B South playoffs Tuesday, holding on to defeat second-seeded York, 5-3, in the regional final at Larry Mahaney Diamond on the campus of St. Joseph’s College.

The Clippers have defeated No. 8 Leavitt, No. 1 Bridgeway, and No. 3 Cape Elizabeth in addition to the Wildcats in the past eight days to reach the Class B state final.

This is Yarmouth’s first trip to a state final game since 1995, when it won the Class C title.

Yarmouth starter Luke Waeldner set the tone on the bump, mixing in a variety of pitches and keeping the Wildcats’ hitters in check, despite issuing eight walks. he gave up just four hits over 4 1/3 innings. 

“I can’t say enough about Luke. He’s thrown like this for us all year, he’s one of those crafty lefties,” Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted said.

“That kid was great today, he battled,”  York coach Chuck Chadbourne said. “I’m a lefty, so I had hoped to have our kids prepared, but he did a fantastic job keeping them off balance.”

Waeldner threw 111 pitches last Thursday in a quarterfinal contest against Bridgeway.

“I’ll be honest, I was pretty tired after Thursday’s game,” Waeldner said. “I knew over the weekend I was going to pitch today, so I took it easy and I was ready today.”

Yarmouth (15-5) manufactured the game’s first run when James Waaler reached first after being hit by an Andrew Rodrigues pitch to lead off the second. Aiden Hickey was hit two batters later, bringing Dom Morrill to the plate.

Morrill hit a grounder between first and second, and second baseman Jacob Nelson snagged the ball, but no one was covering first base, allowing Waaler to come around to score. Nate Dealaman then laid down a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second. On the throw to first, Hickey attempted to score all the way from second but was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.

“They’re a well-coached team. This is playoff baseball and you have to make things happen and Yarmouth did just that,” Chadbourne said.

York scored the equalizer after Trevor LaBonte led off the second with a walk. Following a groundout and another walk, LaBonte came in to score on Waeldner’s second balk of the inning. After a brief meeting on the mound with his head coach, the pitcher composed himself and got Chris Neilson to look at strike three to end the inning.

“That kid battles for us,” Halsted said.

Waeldner led off the third with his second hit of the game between first and second. Chris Romano ripped the very next pitch up the middle and Gibson Harnett looped one behind second base to load the bases with no outs. Cleanup hitter John Romano took a 3-2 pitch and lined it down the left field line for a two-run double.

“I was down 0-2 and I was looking for anything I could get a bat on,” Romano said.

A Waaler suicide squeeze and another single that dropped into no-man’s land in the outfield pushed across another Clippers run, giving the visiting team a 5-1 lead.

They tried to add to their lead in the top of the fourth when Waeldner smacked his third leadoff hit of the game. A steal and a passed ball landed the junior on third. With the infield back, Chris Romano hit a grounder to short and Waeldner broke for home. A quick throw to the catcher and Waeldner was caught in a rundown for the inning’s second out. York catcher Dawson Gundlah recorded the third out of the inning gunning down Romano while attempting to steal.

Meanwhile, Waeldner continued his attack on the York hitters. Despite getting a leadoff single by LaBonte, the Wildcats (15-4) couldn’t get that “big” hit with runners on base, getting three straight ground outs to end the inning.

“We thought if we could get runners on, make things happen, we could make it a game,” Chadbourne said. “Unfortunately, our hitters didn’t come through with the big hit that we normally do.”

Approaching 75 pitches, Waeldner began to tire in the fifth, keeping his throws up in the zone. Shane Pidgeon drew a leadoff walk and stole second. After a comebacker for the frame’s first out, Rodrigues delivered an RBI single. Two more singles loaded the bases for LaBonte. The first basemen hit a sacrifice fly scoring Rodrigues for their third run.

A Riley Linn single loaded the bases again and Morrill replaced Waeldner on the hill after the started had thrown 91 pitches.The burly righthander came in and promptly struck out Tomas Carr to end the threat.

“Dom came in and does what he does,” Halsted said.

York managed a couple of base runners over the last two innings, but wasn’t able to push any across, stranding nine runners on the game.

“If we could have cut it to 5-4, I would have liked our chances a lot better the last inning, but we just weren’t able to get that big hit,” Chadbourne said.

The Clippers will face Old Town at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at St. Joseph’s College.

“We have fun, and I think that helps us on the field. We don’t get all tensed up and it shows when we play,” Morrill said.


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