Baseball: GNG puts up a fight, but narrowly falls to Greely

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CUMBERLAND—G-NG’s playoff drive screeched to a halt vs. Greely on Thursday afternoon, June 7. The Rangers earned a walk-off, 2-1 win when Patriots catcher Nick McCann leapt to grab a desperate throw in from the outfield – leapt and grabbed, but only returned to the dirt too late: McCann swept the tag on runner Matt Strout, but Strout had already touched the plate.

It was the best possible play any catcher could’ve made right then. But Rangers batter Nick Butler’s contact was also an ideal piece of contact, and Strout’s running a flawless 90 feet of running.

Victorious Greely rushed the field.

G-NG head coach Brad Smith praised his boys for their “…effort throughout the season”; he nodded particularly at his seniors “for raising the bar for the underclassmen to follow.”

The first three innings passed scorelessly. Finally, one side – Greely – broke the deadlock in the fourth, Brady Nolin knocking an RBI single. The board hung at 1-0 until the sixth, when the Patriots evened things out: Josiah Rottari and Wil Shufelt kicked off the push with back-to-back singles at the start of the stretch, and Jake Dyer took a pitch in the body for bases loaded.

G-NG tried for the squeeze bunt – unsuccessfully, though a Rangers throwing error nevertheless allowed Rottari to race home.

1-1, and 1-1 is where things stood through the bottom of the sixth and the top of the seventh. In Greely’s last ups, however, Strout launched a perfectly placed ball just fair into leftfield to reach base. The rest – Butler’s follow-up contact, Strout’s rush home, McCann’s a-moment-too-late tag, the 2-1 outcome – is history.

G-NG retires till 2019 at 10-8. The Patriots went 9-7 across their regular schedule and entered the bracketing ranked 11th; they then upended No. 6 Freeport 6-1 in the quarterfinals to earn their shot at Greely, the three-seed. Interestingly – impressively – when the Patriots first met the Rangers this year, hosting them back on April 27, Greely also emerged the winners, but by a much larger margin, 15-2. The Patriots committed a beefy list of errors in that contest, and in general looked nothing like the team they grew into, over the course of the ensuing six weeks. In short: G-NG might’ve lost on Thursday, but in the grand scheme of things, they undeniably won.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Josiah Rottari hurls a pitch toward home for the Patriots.

The Patriots infield confers at the mound between innings.

In the last, fateful play of the game, G-NG catcher Nick McCann reels in a throw from the outfield, hoping to catch G-NG runner Matt Strout out at the plate. Strout easily beat the tag, however, and the Rangers walked off with a W.

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