POLAND – Greely had forced Poland to play back on its heels for much of Tuesday’s tilt between Western Maine Conference unbeatens. But when Tyler Merchant found himself sitting on a 3-and-1 count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh of a tie game, the senior knew it was time to be aggressive.

Merchant lined Caleb Jordan’s fastball over the left-fielder’s head and sent the Knights to a 3-2 win over the Rangers in a tight but sometimes sloppy and bizarre affair.

“I was looking for the perfect pitch, and he grooved one right down the middle,” Merchant said. “We came out pretty flat today, but we really picked it up towards the end because we didn’t want to lose to Greely. It’s a big win for us.”

Jordan had battled his way through occasional fits of wildness to limit Poland to just three hits through six innings. He’d settled down nicely after giving up an RBI double in the first to Jackie MacVane and shook off a controversial balk call in the fifth that gave the Knights (5-0) their second run.

Greely’s senior starter looked like he might wiggle his way out of another jam in the seventh when he picked Nick Douglass off third with one out. But an error, walk and hit batter loaded the bases with two outs, setting up Merchant’s game-winner.

“I thought we did a nice job of not letting the peaks and valleys of the game get to us,” Poland coach Dave Jordan said.

There were a lot of peaks and valleys on both sides for such a low-scoring game. Poland took the lead in the fifth on a controversial play. With Jake Pelletier at third. Jordan stepped off the rubber and threw to his third baseman, who was playing well off the bag and, according to the umpire, was not making a play on the runner. That, by rule, is a balk, although Greely coach Derek Soule argued that his fielder was attempting to make a play, and Pelletier scored.

Greely (5-1) tied the game up again on Nate Martin’s RBI double in the sixth but had many other chances to score. The Rangers left two men on in each of the first four innings and 10 overall. They also had a run negated when Andrew Cimino was called out for leaving third base early on a sacrifice fly.

“We were frustrated with that (balk) call, but like I told the team afterwards, we lost that game early on when we had a lot of men in scoring position, and we didn’t deliver the big hit,” Soule said.

Poland starter Joe Douglass held the Rangers at bay despite giving up giving up five hits, five walks and a hit batter in 4 1/3 innings. Pelletier, who got the win in relief, induced a big double play from the first batter he faced in the fifth.

Jordan (four hits, six walks, four Ks in 6 2/3 innings) had to work out of a number of jams and was helped by a couple of Poland baserunning miscues, too. The Knights also had to put their customary running game on the back-burner out of respect for the strong arm of Greely catcher Adam Norton.

“Today the goal was to make (Jordan) work and keep getting guys on base,” Jordan said. “We have some guys at the top of the order that can do that and did a good job today.”


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