OLD ORCHARD BEACH—The Greater Northeast Collegiate Baseball League (GNCBL)’s playoff stretch kicked off late last week: The five-seed Patriots (4-14) and the four-seed Nor’easters (8-10) clashed at the Ballpark on Thursday afternoon, with the Nor’easters emerging triumphant 10-0 in five innings. Ben Malgeri (Stratham, New Hampshire/Holy Cross) led the team’s attack, going 2-3 on the day on two huge, run-scoring triples.
“Our team’s played close games all year,” said Nor’easters head coach Tony Miner. “If you look at our record, it doesn’t really reflect what we’ve done. Every game that we’ve lost, we’ve been within two or three runs; we’re in every game that we play.”
“We feel confident that we can stay in games,” Miner said. “We’ve got some guys out of position, but guys have battled all year, and I don’t expect anything less from them.”
The Patriots suffered a one-two-three top of the first: Brody Dupuis (Hooksett, New Hampshire/Bridgton Academy/University of Maryland, Baltimore County) struck out vs. Nor’easters starting pitcher Gavin Arsenault (Dirigo/University of Maine Farmington), Arlo Pike (Bonny Eagle/University of Southern Maine) grounded out 5-3 and Sean Adams (Massabesic/Southern Maine Community College) flew out to centerfield.
The Nor’easters, though, ignited in the bottom of the first, putting up a pair of runs, one each by Josh Goulet (Nashua, New Hampshire/Plymouth State) and Max Salevsky (Bonny Eagle/Plymouth State). Goulet doubled into right to reach base, and moved to third when Salevsky bunted successfully; he crossed home on a Patriots’ error at second when Anthony DiPrizio (Rochester, New Hampshire/St. Joseph’s) grounded in that direction. Salevsky shortly followed him onto the scoreboard on a passed ball.
“It really starts in the first inning,” Miner said. “We kind of went out, swung the bats a little bit. And then, of course, Gavin on the mound, he’s been solid for us all summer. Throws a lot of strikes, sets the tempo early. Having a quick inning like that, to build some momentum, was great.”
The Patriots continued to struggle as the game went on, going one-two-three again in the top of the second and the top of the third. Adams did reach base in the top of the fourth – on a Nor’easters’ error at second – but, of course, never got all the way around. Likewise, Tommy Joyce (Portland/St. Joe’s) singled into leftfield in the top of the fifth, tallying the team’s only hit of the day, but soon found himself caught out at second when Sean Lavery (Brentwood, New Hampshire/Southern New Hampshire University) grounded into a 5-4-3 double-play. Ben Gravel (Rochester, New Hampshire/St. Joe’s), at third for the Nor’easters, as well as Ben Conti (South Portland/USM), at second, and Salevsky, at first, combined for the DP.
Miner remarked on his boys’ work in the field. “If you think about, throwing a lot of strikes on the mound, it keeps the defense ready to go,” he said. “Gavin’s not walking guys, and our guys are making the plays behind him. If you’re walking guys, the defense is going to have periods where they’re not going to be as focused. That’s when we make mistakes. Tonight you could see they were focused; they made some really nice plays out there.”
The Nor’easters logged a scoreless inning in the second, but otherwise put up runs at every other opportunity. Goulet and Salevsky both crossed the plate again in the third as did DiPrizio and Ben Malgeri (Stratham, New Hampshire/Holy Cross); DiPrizio and Malgeri scored in the fourth. Troy Bogdahn (Bonny Eagle) and Justin Rodrigue (Cony/UMF) in the fifth. After that, the mercy rule took effect, and the team claimed victory.
Miner nodded approvingly at the Patriots’ efforts. “These guys come out here ready to play, and they only had nine guys. They’re going to give us their best. Tonight, they don’t feel like it was their best, of course. They made some mistakes. But that happens; it’s baseball.”
Goulet finished 1-3 for the Nor’easters. Salevsky finished 2-4, Malgeri 2-3 with that pair of triples and four RBIs, and Conti and Rodrigue 1-3 each.
The Patriots suffered their second defeat of the double-elimination tournament on Sunday, Aug. 5, when they fell 5-1 to the No. 3 Windjammers (11-9).
The Nor’easters, meanwhile, picked up a second postseason win with a 7-5 upset of the No. 1 Spartans (13-7) that same day; the team then battled the No. 2 Norsemen (11-9) on Tuesday the 7th.
The GNCBL also plays at the Wainwright Sports Complex (in South Portland), at Southern Maine Community College (South Portland again), at St. Joseph’s College (Standish) and at the University of Southern Maine (Gorham). The League is online at www.gncbl.net; they’re on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gncblBaseball/ and Twitter at @GNCBLBaseball.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Troy Bogdahn (Bonny Eagle/St. Joe’s) slides into home for the Nor’easters.
Patriots second basemen Arlo Pike (Bonny Eagle/USM) catches Nor’easter Ben Conti (South Portland/USM) out on an attempted steal.
Nor’easter Ben Conti (South Portland/USM) leads off first.
Colton Lawrence (Farmington/USM) pitches for the Patriots.
Anthony DiPrizio (Rochester, New Hampshire/St. Joe’s) arrives home for the Nor’easters.