Gray New Gloucester’s Cooper Winslow tags out York’s Alex Neilson during the baseball game at Gray New Gloucester High School on Wednesday afternoon. Gray New Gloucester ‘s Eli Winchester awaits confirmation of the play. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester significantly bolstered its confidence, and its playoff prospects, with Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Wells, the top team in the Class B South Heal point standings.
On Wednesday, the Patriots encountered another one of the region’s top teams in York, and learned they still have some work to do if they want to challenge the elite in the postseason.
York rocked GNG pitcher Josiah Rottari after his first time through the order, while its own starter, James Henry Bock, got much stronger after his first time through the Patriots’ lineup as the Wildcats pulled away for an 11-1 win in six innings.
Riley Linn and Tommy Carr led York’s 15-hit attack with three hits. He also scored a pair of runs and drove in two. Nick McCann led Gray-New Gloucester with two hits.
Both teams are now 8-6.
Bock wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, then kept the damage to a bare minimum in the second after giving up back-to-back singles to Cooper Winslow and Aidan Sweeney to start the frame. Winslow came around to score the Patriots’ only run on Cam Usher’s ground out.
That started a string of 10 in a row retired by Bock, which coincided with the Wildcats grabbing the lead and pulling away.
York had beaten the Patriots 16-4 earlier this month in York.
“Jack Kelley threw against them the last time and told me to work around the plate and go through their lineup once to see how they swing at the ball and then adjust,” Bock said.
“All of the games he’s thrown, he’s battled through the ups and the downs, but he’s always come out real strong at the end,” York coach Nick Hanlon said.
Linn tied it in the third with an RBI single, then scored the go-ahead run on Tim MacDonald’s double.
York broke it open with a five-run fourth, sparked by Jake Sullivan’s double. An error and a pinch-hit double by Jack Kelley made it 4-1. RBI singles by Linn and MacDonald capped the scoring.
“What we’ve been preaching, against any of the teams we’ve faced, is line drives and ground balls,” Hanlon said. “We’ve got guys who can hit for power, but the field here is huge, so there’s no reason to try and hit it over anyone’s head. We definitely shortened up a little bit and tried to put the ball in play. From there, good things happen.”
The Wildcats kept the bats going against reliever Colby Saunders with four runs over the next two innings.
The Patriots, meanwhile, made solid contact against Bock but didn’t get another base runner until McCann’s two-out single in the fifth.
“We knew that York was going to hit, and they did,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Brad Smith said. “Like I told the kids (Tuesday), put that in the rearview mirror. We’ve got to focus on this game today. And we’ve got another big game coming up. Our last four games are against the top four teams in the Heals (Wells, York, Freeport and Cape Elizabeth), so there’s no place to hide. We answered the bell (Tuesday), and hopefully we can at least get a split in the next two games.”
Bock credited the defense behind him, which — led by Linn and MacDonald on the left side of the infield and outfielders Riley Johnston, Shane Pidgeon and Alex Neilson — made only one error on the day.
“It’s nice when they’re fielding the way they usually are,” said Bock, who allowed one walk, five hits and didn’t strike anyone out. “I’ve got good guys behind me, so when I put the trust in them, it makes it easy for me.”
York’s Trevor Lavigne leaps into the air to catch the ball as Gray New Gloucester Cooper Winslow launches towards second base during the baseball game at Gray New Gloucester High School on Wednesday afternoon. Winslow made it to the base safely. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal))
Gray New Gloucester’s William Shufelt catches the ball before York’s Tim MacDonald can get back to third base during the baseball game at Gray New Gloucester High School on Wednesday afternoon. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)