CUMBERLAND – For six innings, Jake Pelletier and the defense behind him stymied Greely.

But with fatigue settling in and the Rangers threatening to steal Poland’s first Western Maine Conference title, Pelletier needed one of his teammates to slam the door.

With the tying runs on second and third and nobody out and a 3-1 lead to protect, Poland coach Dave Jordan called on Will Griffiths to preserve the first conference championship in school history.

Griffiths delivered, inducing a ground ball, then snaring a line drive back to the mound and doubling the runner off second to end the game and give the Knights a 3-2 win.

“I didn’t even know the situation when he called me, but I love coming in when the pressure is on,” said Griffiths, who was victimized on a similar snare by Greely pitcher Brandon Gallagher in the sixth. “I figured a ground ball out, like we got, would work for us. I didn’t want any gap hits, so I kept (the pitches) low.”

Jordan had Griffiths, a right-hander, and lefty Joe Douglass warming up at different points throughout the game in case he needed to pull his starter. But from Matt Reade’s RBI single that tied the game at 1-1 in the first until Matt McDonough’s double put the tying runs on in the seventh, Pelletier didn’t give up a hit.

It was clear after a leadoff walk to pinch hitter Pat Copp and McDonough’s two-bagger to right field that Pelletier had nothing left, so Jordan went to Griffiths to protect against a possible squeeze play and keep the ball in the infield.

“Will is very good at keeping the ball down. He’s got a great change-up and curve, so we’re looking at trying to get them off-balance a little bit and trying to get a pop fly or something like that,” Jordan said. “We have a lot of confidence in Will and Joe Douglass. We have a lot of guys that we could use in that situation.”

Douglass’ RBI triple in the second inning put the Knights (15-1) in front for good. Greely (14-2) starter Caleb Jordan did not come back out for the third inning due to an injury and was replaced by Gallagher, who allowed only one unearned run in four innings of work. That run, resulting from a well-executed suicide squeeze bunt by Jake Sproul, proved to be the game-winner.

“We have some big sticks, but sometimes when you get in a game like this, you can really hit a ball hard, but the ball is going to find a glove. You saw that here,” Jordan said.

Pelletier (two hits, five Ks, two walks) retired seven Rangers in a row after Reade’s first inning single. He experienced some wildness in the fourth, yielding a walk and hitting a batter with one out, then got out of the inning with a couple of fly balls. That settled him back into a groove, as he struck out the side in the fifth en route to retiring another eight in a row.

“My fielders are what saved me, to tell you the truth,” Pelletier said. “Getting those fly balls with the outfield tracking them down was awesome.”

“Jake pitched a great game,” Jordan said. “He’s a competitor. He stays so calm on the mound. His presence is awesome. He’s had some big games for us, so we knew he was a good guy to start this game because he’s so calm and collected.”

The Knights will be the No. 1 seed and will have a bye heading into next week’s Western B playoffs. Yesterday’s win completed a season sweep over their closest pursuers in the WMC.

“It’s just kind of the beginning,” Griffiths said. “We worked really hard all season. We’ve improved a lot. We just want to keep going and keep advancing on in the playoffs.”


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