CUMBERLAND – Some things just aren’t meant to be explained.

Mountain Valley High School made a living breaking hearts and winning championships this school year. Saturday morning, at the end of a freakish final inning that even Bob Stanley and Bill Buckner might call bizarre, the cleats were on the other feet.

Greely scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh on four walks, a hit batsman and four base hits to steal a 7-6 victory in a Western Class B baseball semifinal at Twin Brook Recreation Center.

Nate Martin’s looping single to center field off reliever Matt Lyons applied the exclamation point and ended Mountain Valley’s dream of sweeping the state football, basketball and baseball titles in 2006-07.

“That group of (six) seniors has done great things this year. You hate to have it end that way, but you know, that’s the way luck has it,” said Mountain Valley coach Steve LaPointe. “I just don’t know what I can say. Never in my life at any level have I seen that.”

The Falcons (14-2) appeared safe with a 4-1 lead after six and starting pitcher Matt Laubauskas in cruise control, having retired 10 of the next 12 batters after a brief hiccup in third.

Life looked even brighter when Justin Staires scored on a wild pitch and Garrett McPherson plated Corey Devoe with an RBI single in the seventh to make it a five-run cushion.

But Sam Stauber – hit by pitches twice earlier in the game – drew a leadoff walk for Greely (16-2). Laubauskas then topped the 100-pitch mark before plunking Martin with a two-ball, two-strike offering.

Andrew Cimino loaded the bases with only the Rangers’ third hit of the day. Ryan Robb ripped a two-run double to left. When Matt Reade walked to put the tying run on base, Laubauskas gave way to Lyons.

“The tide just seemed to turn. I’ve never seen the floodgates open like that,” said LaPointe. “It’s terrible to have to put a kid into the game in that situation. It’s not fair to the kid. But in the same breath, we had to have someone come in and throw strikes.”

Lyons coaxed Caleb Jordan into a grounder to third. Devoe tagged the bag for a force out and narrowly missed a double play at home, but Cimino scored to make it 6-4.

Matt McDonough’s single and a walk by eventual winning pitcher Brandon Gallagher jammed the bases once more. Lyons fanned Adam Norton with a high fastball for the second out. Stauber then squirmed out a walk, however, to push home the tying run before Martin’s heroics.

“When it got to be 6-3 with the bases loaded,” said Greely’s Pat Copp, “we knew we were going to win.”

Greely’s confidence wasn’t necessarily rooted in experience. With few exceptions, the Rangers have rarely known what it’s like to be behind, let alone by more runs than outs remaining.

“In 16 regular-season games, we gave up 16 runs,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “That’s not earned runs. Total runs. I told them going into the bottom of the seventh that stranger things have happened. But not too many stranger things. That was a comeback for the ages.”

Mountain Valley’s first four runners reached base and scratched out a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Devoe delivered an RBI single. Laubauskas later scored on a passed ball, and Staires scampered home when catcher Norton’s subsequent throw sailed wide of the plate. Staires also knocked in a run in the second.

Stauber scored Greely’s first run on a throwing error in the third. Laubauskas stranded three Rangers on base after a brief bout with wildness in that frame.

“Matt Laubauskas pitched six innings like you wouldn’t believe,” LaPointe said. “I wouldn’t trade these kids for anything.”


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