GORHAM and PORTLAND – Gorham charged 5-0 past Sanford on Thursday, June 9. Jason Komulainen kicked off a six-hit, four-run third for the Rams, an offensive explosion the team rode to victory. Two days later, however, they suffered the reverse fate. Despite going up early over Cheverus on a Ben Nelson run, they relinquished three in a problematic third to ultimately fall 5-1.
No. 3 Gorham vs. No. 11 Sanford
Gorham head coach Chuck Nadeau expected a competitive matchup against the Spartans, despite their low seed. “When I talked to other coaches, we all recognized Sanford had lost a lot of close ballgames,” Nadeau said. “:They’d lost like five or six or seven one-run games, and they played us tough, when we went down there. So we knew this wouldn’t be an easy game.”
The Rams topped the Spartans 5-3 in the regular season. But Sanford earned their shot at Gorham by upsetting No. 5 Thornton in the prelims. So while the prospect of the Spartans’ facing off with the Rams looked lopsided on paper, the potential certainly existed for a close game to play out.
“As the opposing coach,” Nadeau said, “you do worry, ‘Is this the team that’s on a hot streak?’ And it doesn’t take much for kids at this age. One good swing, piecing together two good swings, and all of a sudden it’s a big inning. Lucky for us, Logan (Drouin, Gorham starting pitcher) stayed out of that and made it difficult for them, as he’s done for everybody. So we had the right guy on the mound today.”
Sanford held the Rams at bay through the first two innings. That all changed in third, however, when leadoff hitter Komulainen belted a double to rile his boys up. Brogan McDonald followed with an RBI single, and Nolan Brown and Lucas Roop posted singles as well, Roop’s a two-RBI. Will Prescott and David Drew added Gorham’s other two hits in the stretch, a further pair of singles. Drew’s brought home Roop.
Ben Nelson added the Rams’ final run in the sixth, scoring on a Kyle King single.
Komulainen, King and McDonald all finished the day 1-4. Brown and Roop went 2-3. Prescott and Drew went 1-3.
Logan Drouin, on the mound, performed excellently, as usual. Nadeau had words of praise for Drouin. “He’s done a great job changing speeds. After his first or second outing of the year, where he was in the mindset that he was just going to overpower people, he’s really settled into a good mix of pitches. He does a good job working with (catcher) Jason Komulainen, setting up hitters, and he can make all three of his pitches at any point in the count – which, at the high school level, is definitely a weapon for a pitcher.”
Nadeau applauded a couple of his other players as well. “Brogan McDonald made a couple picks for us early, over at first, on throws that were not right on the mark, so he kept us in good shape. Ben Nelson’s always just solid at short. I thought Nolan Brown did a great job in centerfield as well.”
Sanford bounced from the postseason at 6-12.
No. 3 Gorham vs. No. 2 Cheverus
However tough the Rams expected the Spartans to prove, they expected the Stags to prove still tougher.
“We understood going in that we would need to play clean defensively and take advantage of each opportunity offensively,” Nadeau said of his boys’ contest with the Stags. “Cheverus is a very solid team with experienced, competitive kids. I think we got what we expected to get from them – we just didn’t match them.”
Nelson opened the game with a single for Gorham. He reached second on a Komulainen single, third on a pass ball during Kyle King’s at-bat and home when King sac-flied.
1-0. From there, however, the action turned against the Rams: Logan McCarthy scored for the Stags in the second to tie things up, and Griffin Watson scored in the third to inch them ahead. Then, in the fourth, Cheverus exploded for three, one each from Watson, Justin Ray and Jack Casale. Gorham starting pitcher Adam Peterson checked out midway through the stretch, and Komulainen stepped in as relief, but Cheverus had simply found a rhythm.
Nadeau expressed confidence in his pitchers, who, except for stumbling in the third, otherwise looked solid. “I thought our pitching was good enough to win the game,” Nadeau said. “We cracked the door open a few times for Cheverus, and (Maxx) St. John hurt us both times. Otherwise, I like the way our guys competed and kept us within striking distance. We just couldn’t support their efforts with enough offense.”
St. John went 2-3 with a single and double on the day.
Casale, the Stags’ ace on the mound, held Gorham largely silent at the plate, giving up just four hits total – King added a single in the sixth and Roop a single in the seventh. Sure, Casale clipped Nolan Brown in the first and walked Roop in the fifth, but he tallied seven Ks as well, effectively stomping out any Rams’ spark before it could catch fire.
Of course, Casale’s defense backed him up admirably. “Casale did a nice job of settling into his rhythm after our fast start,” Nadeau said. “Cheverus got the big play from their third baseman to end the top of the first with the bases loaded – from then on it was difficult for us to get any momentum again. I credit Casale for that.”
Gorham retires for the year at 15-3. Cheverus, now 17-1, will play Falmouth in the Regional final on Wednesday, June 14.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Gorhamite Ben Nelson heads for home in the top of the first vs. Cheverus.
Gorham’s Will Prescott grabs after a throw, an attempt to catch Stag Griffin Watson stealing second.
Lucas Roop takes a turn at the plate.
Jason Komulainen whips around on the mound to fling a ball toward Logan Drouin at first, looking to freeze a would-be Cheverus base-stealer.
Ball in hand, David Drew cuts through rightfield vs. the Stags.
Ben Nelson fires a ball from short to first in Gorham’s win over Sanford.
Gorham’s Logan Drouin runs down Cheverus’s Cam Dube, midway between third and home; both boys catch air.
Brogan McDonald lays a tag on a Sanford runner, diving back to first.