Hitting, pitching send Clippers to Division 3 South finals

BUZZARDS BAY — Falmouth’s bats came alive Thursday against Dennis-Yarmouth, but that was nothing new. The Clippers came into the Division 3 South baseball semifinals having scored 26 runs in their first three playoff games, all against teams with higher seeds.

That revitalized offense, coupled with solid pitching, is the reason Falmouth went from a 10-10 team in the regular season to the first squad under 25-year coach Tom Kelliher to reach a sectional championship.

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Alex Fratantoni pitched a complete-game one-hitter, and Kevin Peters led an 11-hit attack with a 3-for-3 day as the No. 18 Clippers upended the No. 11 Dolphins 8-1 on Thursday at Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Commodore Hendy Field.

“The last couple weeks, two or three weeks at the end of the season, we just said, ‘Guys, we have to be more focused in our approach up at bat,” Kelliher said. “It couldn’t happen at a better time.”

Falmouth (14-10) will face No. 4 Dedham, a 7-0 semifinal winner over Medway, in the South finals Saturday at 11 a.m. at Braintree High School.

D-Y finished its season 13-10.

Falmouth’s offense averaged just over four runs per game in the regular season. They scored in double digits just twice, and their three games against Atlantic Coast League-rival D-Y, of which Falmouth won two, were all decided by three runs or fewer.

The nadir of the season was a 12-day stretch in May in which the Clippers failed to score more than two runs in five straight games. Falmouth lost four of those games, including three against ACL opponents.

“Everybody just seemed flat, and I feel that me as a senior, being voted as a captain, I have to provide that spark,” Peters said. “I have to do that by hitting the ball. If I’m not hitting the ball, make the plays in the field. If I can’t do either of those, I have to be up on the row (cheering) from the dugout.”

Falmouth, seeded 18th out of 20 teams, has been on the road this entire postseason. The Clippers beat Holliston 11-4 in the preliminary round, No. 2 Hanover 2-0 in the first round and No. 10 Old Rochester 13-10 in extra innings in the quarterfinals.

Falmouth needed barely three innings to establish its offense this time around. Peters’ double with Max Roman (three runs) on base put two in scoring position in the top of the second, and Colby Davis and Eli Harris (2-for-3) each drove in a run for a 2-0 lead.

The Clippers added four runs in the third. Jared Chorches’ single to right drove in a run when Gates Kelliher slid in just ahead of the tag of D-Y catcher Sam Capobianco, Chris Perito doubled in a run, and Peters’ RBI single and a double steal pushed the lead to 6-0.

Fratantoni, meanwhile, was coming off a complete-game shutout against Hanover. He didn’t give up a hit this time until Andrew Campbell’s single in the bottom of the fifth, allowing one unearned run while walking four, hitting a batter and striking out two in seven innings.

“I lost my curveball about halfway through the game and then got it back when I needed it, but definitely the fastball was working,” Fratantoni said. “I faced D-Y two times this season. I’d say this is the team I’m most confident against.”

Campbell reached on an error for D-Y and scored on Cam Duffy’s groundout to cut the deficit to 6-1 in the third. Fratantoni helped his own cause with four strong defensive plays on the mound, including starting a double play to end the second and leaping high off the mound to corral Brandon Dunn’s bouncer in the third inning, throwing to first to strand a runner in scoring position.

Peters added an RBI double in the fifth and scored on Davis’ groundout to finish 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a hit-by-pitch.

The loss went to D-Y starter Cam Taubert, who allowed five runs on six hits, a walk and two strikeouts over the first two-plus innings.

D-Y’s postseason saw the Dolphins also win twice on the road, including a 2-1 upset of No. 3 Ashland in the quarterfinals.

“We met a team that played better than us today,” Dennis-Yarmouth coach JD Stone said. “We were last in the ACL somehow this year, and we ended up going almost the farthest. It’s nothing to hang our heads about this season. I’m proud of every one of these guys.”