CUMBERLAND – The Patriots kept pace with the Rangers through the first half of the teams’ prelims matchup on Wednesday, June 7, but fell behind in the bottom of the third, when some defensive wobbles – a trio of walks and some missed opportunities in the field – cost them. They never recovered, ultimately falling 6-2.
“Greely is a great opponent,” G-NG head coach Brad Smith said. “So we know them. And we felt pretty good. It’s just one of those things: You play out seven innings, somebody’s going to score more runs. I told [the guys] to walk out of here with their heads held high.”
G-NG looked strong to start the game, and went up 1-0 in the top of the first, a Zach Mann tally. The Rangers answered in their first at-bats, however, Dylan Fried evening the score at 1-1.
“We came up hitting,” Smith said. “That’s what I told them, ‘We have to be aggressive.’ We had three or four hits in a row and were off and running. Unfortunately we turned around and give it right back to them. But it set the tone.”
Greely’s three-run third began when Mann, on the mound for the Patriots, met with some uncharacteristic control issues, walking the bases loaded. A sac fly, a fielder’s choice and a single brought home Fried again, as well as Zach Brown and Jack Saffian, propelling Greely out front 4-1.
Smith commented on Mann’s rough fourth inning. “I don’t know what was going on. It gets a little out of synch, and it doesn’t take much. He was just missing. And there was one situation in, I think it was, that inning, that the runner on first took off and Zach was still holding the ball. That’s a cardinal sin. I reminded him he’s got to freeze that runner.”
But of course, there were eight other guys in the field with Mann, as Smith emphasized. “We had some defensive lapses,” he said. “We missed the cutoff man on the ball that was hit to rightfield, that we had a possible play at the plate. And it may have been that inning, when a runner scored from second base on a ball that was hit directly to left field. In my mind, that shouldn’t happen. It was misplayed.”
Snafus in the field are uncharacteristic of G-NG, who typically play quite reliable defense. “Our outfield has been playing aces all year,” Smith said. “But can kids have a down day? Oh, absolutely. They can have it at the plate, they can have it on the mound, they can have it wherever.”
The Patriots ushered men onto base in four of the final five innings, but managed just one more run, when Nick Chandler squeeze-bunted and brought home Nick McCann, diving, in the sixth. Meanwhile, Luke Miller and Tate Porter both rounded the bases in the sixth for the Rangers, building to the final.
G-NG actually put up nine hits in the contest: Jake Winchester went 1-4, Mann 1-4, John Henry Villanueva 1-1, Will Shufelt 2-4, Eli Winchester 2-3, McCann 1-2 and Tanner Mann 1-3. They simply couldn’t get the timely hits, the ones they needed to wring more runs out of the diamond.
For their part, the Rangers hashed six hits. Fried was 1-3 on the afternoon, Brown 1-3, Miller 1-2, Porter 2-3 and AJ Eisenhart 1-2.
Mann threw three Ks for the Patriots, and Eli Winchester, who took Mann’s place on the mound temporarily in the third (after he gave up those three consecutive walks), threw one. Brown, who pitched a complete game for Greely, threw four.
Smith took a moment to praise a handful of his players. “Josiah Rottari made an outstanding play at third, a diving stop. One of our Co-Captains, John Henry, just steady at short. Good players always make the routine plays, and he makes the routine plays. He didn’t have an opportunity to do anything spectacular, but he made the plays he needed.”
G-NG, who snuck into the tournament ranked 12th, retires till next spring at 7-10. Greely fell to Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals a day later, 5-4. They return to the sidelines till 2018 at 11-7, having entered the bracketing ranked fifth.
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Zach Mann pitched well overall against Greely on June 7; he ran into a little trouble in the fourth, however.
Josiah Rottari unwinds into a throw from third to first after turning a spectacular diving stop on a Greely grounder.
Eli Winchester temporarily took over for Zach Mann on the mound vs. Greely on June 7. Here, Winchester, delivers an bunted ball to first.
John Henry Villanueva leads off first vs. the Rangers.